Singer/songwriter Nellie Travis was born in the Mississippi Delta town of Mound Bayou in the early 1960s. Early in her career, she sang in church and also locally with others and did session work in Memphis before arriving in Chicago in 1992. Travis cites as influences Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, and espe- cially the late Koko Taylor, who was a mentor and friend to her.
In 2009 Travis was crowned the “New Queen of the Blues for Chicago” by former WVON personality Pervis Spann, who years earlier had bestowed that honor on the ‘original’ queen of Chicago Blues, Koko Taylor. Since 2000 she and her band have issued self-produced CDs entitled I Got It
Like That and Heart and Soul. And she’s been a one-woman wrecking crew of albums and singles since then, issuing Wanna Be With You (Da-Man, 2005) followed by two on CDS Records, I’m a Woman (2008) and I’m in Love With a Man I Can’t Stand (2009), then I’m Going Out Tonight (2011) and Nellie Sings the Blues (2014). Her latest CD is titled Mr. Sexy Man, for which she also sells a line of Mr. Sexy Man merchandise.
Nellie Travis and her band have long been fixtures on the Chicago blues club scene, and have appeared frequently at the Chicago Blues Fest. She has taken her brand of soulful blues and R&B as far as Europe, South America, and Japan to perform. Last year she sang Slap Yo Weave Off on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, backed by The Roots.