30 years, 30 Great State stories: Miss Blues shouts to the heavens

Great State

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — She walks onstage looking every bit a grandmother.

But old blues hands like Tommy Miller and Mitch Trainor know that Dorothy Ellis changes her identity as soon as the music starts and the microphone hits her hand.

Dorothy changes instantly to Miss Blues.

“Blues got me through,” she says. “It really did.”

Ellis sang her first blues song onstage before she turned 7 years old.

“Easter Sunday, 1943,” she recalls. “I went to God’s forum and got up and sang a song, ‘Good Mornin’ Blues’.”

Miss Blues style harkens from the old Texas Shouter tradition, a pattern that started with preachers who said their peace on Sunday mornings.

“You know the black preacher who can whoop and holler on Sunday?” she queries. “Well, I whoop and holler on Friday and Saturday.”

Dorothy’s mother died when she was young.

Miss Blues picked cotton, and ran out of money in Oklahoma City running away from her childhood.

But the blues was always her companion.

She didn’t quit her day job, but she didn’t quit singing either.

“It’s something I enjoyed doing,” she states.

There are those who say the blues only taps into sadness and melancholy.

Miss Blues says that’s not true.

Blues is life itself, and she pours every ounce she can into every note.

“I want to sail my voice to the people,” Dorothy states, “and get a message across to the people that although you might be down one minute, the next minute you can get up, that you can make it.”

‘Is This a Great State or What?’ is sponsored by WEOKIE.

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