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©AP / Ann Rabson
© AP / Ann Rabson
Co-founder of Saffire women's blues trio dies in Va.

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Pianist and vocalist Ann Rabson, co-founder of the trio Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women, died Wednesday in Virginia after a battle with cancer, her label announced. She was 67.

A barrelhouse blues pianist, Rabson was also a songwriter and guitarist. She recorded eight albums with Saffire and one solo CD for Alligator Records. She made three solo albums for other labels.

Rabson was best known for her work with Saffire, which she formed with one of her guitar students, Gaye Adegbalola. Andra Faye McIntosh completed the trio, which had a loyal following. Saffire disbanded in 2009 after 25 years of performing.

Find: Videos of Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women

While Rabson didn't start playing piano until she was 35, DownBeat magazine said she played "bluesy, honky-tonk piano with staggering authority."

A native New Yorker who grew up in Ohio, she moved to Fredericksburg in 1971 where she gave music lessons on the side. Her father gave her a guitar when she was 17 and she idolized blues greats such as Memphis Minnie and Big Bill Broonzy.

"Blues speaks to me directly," she said. "It wasn't a choice. I was drawn to it naturally, sort of like a sheepdog with sheep."

Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, a friend and producer, described Rabson as a "delightful, smart and funny person" and a dedicated champion of the blues. "We were blessed to have known her," he said in a statement.

Rabson had continued to perform over the last few years, appearing on recordings with Pinetop Perkins and Ani DiFranco. Her most recent was "Not Alone," recorded in 2012 for VizzTone Records.

Rabson is survived by her husband, George Newman, her daughter and a granddaughter.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Jan 31, 2013 2:16PM
ann rabson  was a remarkable woman..her bawdy and oftentimes irreverent sense of humor was infectious..we shared many laughs and great times over the years..she always made new friends feel like family members....a multi-talented singer - song-writer-musician - someone to be admired..and ann rabson was greatly loved...she was truely special....a stand-out..and a really classy woman..uppity to the end....john muller
Jan 31, 2013 1:39PM
My group and I had the opportunity to perform with Ann in Italy a few years back. She was a great talent and as nice as could be. God Speed and thank you for all your fabulous music, Ann.
Elnora and Sumpthin' Cookin"
Jan 30, 2013 8:16PM
Rest in peace Ann Rabson.  I always loved Saffire and the Uppity Blues Women, especially their song;  I'm a 10 minute woman in love with a one minute man.  (or something like that).  
Jan 30, 2013 7:39PM
Very sad.  This group was one of the most entertaining I've had the pleasure to see.  She was a fantastic pianist.  I always wished I could play the blues like that. 
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