Dawn Okeefe Williams
- Artist: Dawn O'Keefe Williams
- Format: CD
- Release Date:3/27/2001
Sometimes when an artist releases their debut CD, it belies the fact that it is the culmination of years of experience and dedication. Such is the case with Dawn O'Keefe Williams. The 10 original songs that comprise this disc show the range of her voice, her diverse musical influences and quality musicianship that only a seasoned veteran could pull off. Favoring a clean, sultry singing voice over growling and shouting, she effortlessly blends blues, R&B, soul & pop. A tireless gigger and dedicated mother, she learned her lessons well, from her youth, to her collaboration with, and later marriage to the late, great Emery Williams, Jr. Growing up on the Northwest side of Chicago, Dawn started early. She developed a sense of timing shaking her head to the radio. 'I remember I was shaking my head to the downbeat, when I got older I realized I was keeping time.' She would sing to her mother's records. One really caught her ear. Connie Francis' 'Who's Sorry Now'. 'She really belted it out and I wanted to do that too.' By her teens she was introduced to the blues via Janice Joplin, Hendrix and Led Zepplin, listening to underground radio. With fake I.D. in hand she would sing in folk rock bands in local clubs with older musicians. At this time Dawn began writing as well. 'I would just pick up a pencil and start writing. It wasn't like oh-let's write a song, it would just flow like that.' Later in 1993 that pencil won her a Billboard certificate of achievement for 'Stone Cold Fool', the first of the last three songs recorded earlier on this disc featuring Emery Williams on guitar and vocals. Moving to Des Plaines, IL to raise a family of her own, she took most of the 80's off. When the kids got a little older she was ready to roll. 'It's comparable to the need to eat.' She joined an all female choral group called Images of Sound at the YMCA. Performing jazz, show tunes, folk and pop, Dawn honed her vocal skills and was featured as a pop soloist. 'It was the best training ground for me.' She also joined Midwest Women in Music, as well as the songwriters committee both a Chicago branch of NARAS, where she started meeting various Chicago music insiders. It wasn't until she sat in at a jam night at River West in Chicago, however, that her career would kick into high gear. Playing guitar in Howard Scott's band one night was Emery Williams. Dawn & Emery soon became collaborators. Emery, a veteran of the south and west side blues scene began taking Dawn to all the down and dirty clubs. Performing together in those rough and tumble clubs as the Slick Willy Crazy Band taught Dawn to be a better performer. 'If I wanted to be on Emery's caliber there's no choice. You have to sing your heart out, dance your heart out, really give it everything. Nothing less than 100%. Dawn and Emery married in 1995. He passed away from lung cancer in 1996. 'I can still feel his presence when I perform' states Dawn. This CD is lovingly dedicated to his memory. By Jim Crombie.