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Monday, November 14, 2011

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Valerie Wellington


Valerie Wellington (November 14, 1959 – January 2, 1993) was an African American, Chicago blues and electric blues singer and actress. Her 1984 album, Million Dollar $ecret saw her work with Sunnyland Slim, Billy Branch, and Magic Slim. In her early years, Wellington also worked with Lee "Shot" Williams. In a short career, she switched from opera to the blues.
She was born Valerie Eileen Hall in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Wellington trained as an opera singer, graduating from the American Conservatory of Music, but in 1982 took up singing the blues in her local Chicago clubs. Her work extended to the theater, where she undertook roles portraying earlier blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Wellington's opera training enabled her to project her voice to theater audiences. She appeared at the 1984 San Francisco Blues Festival, on the bill alongside Marcia Ball and Katie Webster.

Her recorded work blended the more traditional vaudeville approach with a contemporary Chicago blues format. Wellington appeared on a limited number of recordings, but her voice was used on several advertisements on both television and radio. Wellington's recording of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On" was used on the soundtrack to the 1989 film, Great Balls of Fire!, in which she briefly appeared depicting Big Maybelle. In the same year, Wellington toured Japan, with Carlos Johnson.

Wellington died of a cerebral aneurysm in Maywood, Illinois, in January 1993, at the age of 33. She was interred at the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

In 1995, Rooster Blues re-issued Million Dollar secret
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