Over 23 years ago (before motherhood, before I Unity) I used to sing in a regional band called Li’l Ronnie and the BlueBeats. We enjoyed lots of success and began recording songs (in the hopes of being signed to a recording label). We attracted the attention of a record label and we were enjoying local radio airplay. It appeared that my dream of being a recording artist was coming true! Then the record label dropped us. The band was discouraged and shortly disbanded. It was a sad time for me, as I lost hope that I could ever become a recording artist. it seemed I had gotten so close and (alas) the door slammed shut.
I was heartbroken, but I moved forward with my dream of becoming a recording artist. Independently I released 3 positively soulful CDs: Out of the Blue, Fearless & Joy Rising.
I had forgotten about the 8 songs the BlueBeats had recorded. However, last year, out of the blue, the band members decided to go back into the studio and complete the CD with the help of Ellersoul Records (a Richmond, Virginia recording label). In April of 2014 we released our recording Unfinished Business (23 years later). This recording is a fun, high energy collection of original soul, funk, ballads and blues. I’m thrilled to report we are already getting radio airplay all over the country on blues programs and receiving great reviews (excerpts below).
I find it amazing that dreams can be resurrected and life is full of surprises!
Below are a few reviews for Unfinished Business.
REVIEW – Unfinished Business, Li’l Ronnie & The BlueBeats featuring Claudia Carawan (Ellersoul Records) by Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
This aptly titled CD ‘unfinished business’ has been a long time in the making.The Blues Beats were a very popular regional band in the 80’s and early 90’s and were in serious negotiations with a well known record label. With all of the songs written, and eight of them already recorded, this CD was supposed to be released in 1991. However, life got in the way and things just didn’t go as planned. Fast forward twenty-three years and, with a release date of April 15th, 2014, the project is finally finished. As the saying goes, good things are worth waiting for…..
….”That’s What A Girl Wants To Hear” is another slow bluesy ballad, and that always means it’ll be one of my favorite as well. Vocally, this is easily Claudia’s best. The changes she makes and the range she spans are absolutely masterful. This should be mandatory listening for aspiring, young female vocalists. Somewhere in this track were a few beautiful piano leads, several strong sax interludes and some great guitar riffs as well but I was just swept away by Claudia’s commanding vocals. Wow! The track may be called that’s what a girl wants to hear but it’s that kind of stuff that this man wants to hear…
EXCERPTS FROM REVIEW BY Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com 2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient
REVIEW – Unfinished Business, Li’l Ronnie & The BlueBeats featuring Claudia Carawan (Ellersoul Records) by Bill Wilson, April 2014
Scheduled for release in 1991, the aptly titled “Unfinished Business” did not get released as scheduled when life took some unexpected twists. Fast forward some 23 years and change the release date to April 15, 2014 and the old adage “good things come to those who wait” becomes pleasantly true. This is a great piece of work on so many levels. The performance is flawless, the vocal work is immaculate and the release has a timeless sound a feel. A great deal of that might be attributed to the fact that the album was essentially done in 1991but the world is a much brighter place for the fact that this piece will finally see the light of day. Comprised of 12 originals and two well-chosen covers, one by Ray Charles and the other by Louis Prima, this is a beautiful piece of work any way you slice it. Claudia Carawan’s work on vocals is a perfect match for the style and the era in which the original style would have been done. It should be noted that she plays alto sax as well. Unfinished Business is a wonderful blend of jump, somewhat traditional blues, hard-driving numbers and soulful, sensuous ballads. The world owes a great deal of thanks to the folks at EllerSoul for making this recording a reality after such a long wait. With the changes in technology and the work that had to done to bring it into a form that could be used in today’s modern studio, it is a minor miracle that this one saw the light of day at all. This is another one of those pieces that belongs in the collection of everyone who might consider themselves fans of jazz, blues or just good music in general. The arrangements are superb, the tunes, though written in 1991 or earlier, have the feel and sound of material written in the 1920s and 30s.
I’ve heard people say that if they were stranded on a deserted island with just a couple albums for their listening pleasure that they would take certain albums. If I found myself in that position, this is one of the pieces I would want to have with me. Needless to say, I recommend Unfinished Business highly. You could do much worse but you could not do much better. Reviewer, Bill Wilson