Straight-up soul blues vocalist and guitarist Johnny Rawls was born in 1951 and raised near the Mississippi Gulf coast. He began playing professionally in high school and spent his early years as a guitarist behind Joe Tex,the Sweet Inspirations, Z.Z. Hill and others, then as a bandleader for luminaries O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor before stepping out front in 1985.
Rawls’ first solo recording was on Rainbow Records, followed by two releases on the Rooster label, five releases on JSP, and three on his own Deep South Soul label, in various roles as a musician, singer, songwriter, arranger, and producer. Since 2008 he has released eight recordings on the Cat food imprint, the latest, Waiting For the Train, another outstanding production with the inclusion of a couple of gospel numbers. In his recorded work he has twice paid tribute to his former employ- er, O.V. Wright, rst with Remembering O.V., then Ace of Spades.
Rawls made the cover of Living Blues magazine in 2002, and in 2014 won Most Outstanding Blues Singer honors from that magazine’s Critics’ Poll. He also won three Critics’ Poll awards for Best Album of the Year for Red Cadillac (2008), Memphis Still Got Soul (2010), and Ace of Spades (2012). Ace of Spades also won the 2009 Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Album of the Year. He shares a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker with Little Milton and Tyrone Davis at the site of the Hi Hat Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.