She’s a blazing, soulful force of nature. It could be during Samantha Reed’s regular Thursday night gig with ace cover band Dance Candy, or singing well-crafted originals with her eponymous Sam Reed Syndicate, or at any of her many collaborative projects. Wherever she’s found, her voice cuts through with blowtorch focus.
Reed is one of a very few vocalists who could convincingly pull off her latest project, “Black Janis,” a celebration of the songbook of hyper-intense ’60s blues rock icon Janis Joplin.
But where Joplin was the archetypal, Southern Comfort and heroin-fueled artistic train wreck, Reed is a happily grounded, working mother.
“People told me I would never be successful because I have a husband and children,” Reed says. “But I had my first child at 19. I was someone’s mom before I was a singer. It is what it is. When I found out my oldest son has autism, I thought, ‘OK, what do I need to do now?’ I don’t see myself being anything but what I am.”
There’s no fundamental conflict between picking her kids up at school or going on field trips and having dinner together every day, and then singing her heart out onstage at night.
“People ask me when I sleep,” she says. “There are 24 hours in a day. You divide them whatever way you can.”
Recently that division has included traveling to Denver for an annual gig with Dance Candy leader Mark Ingraham’s cousin, tap-dance master Savion Glover, and sharing vocals with Nigel Hall on a just-released Butcher Brown track.
The pace picks up as the warmer weather brings wedding gigs and festival performances — including the High Sierra Music Festival in California and Lockn’ in Virginia. And, just to keep things interesting, her two boys will be out of school.
“God knew what he was doing when he gave me these babies,” she says. “It’s so I didn’t lose my mind in this world.”