Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b c.1950, New York City area) Vocalist, bandleader, and songwriter. When she was a child, she said, 'I didn't play with dolls. I played records.' She pawed through her parents' collection from the Big Band Era, including Louis Prima and Louis Jordan, and began singing and writing songs. When she was ten her parents took her to a dinner-dance at the Glen Island Casino on Long Island Sound, famous for decades for the big bands that played there; she was invited to sing with the house band, and subsequently went out on gigs with small groups, chaperoned by her father. At age 18 she was fronting a big soul band called Ivory and Ebony at the famed Peppermint Lounge. Joey Dee, earlier of the Peppermints' Starlighters fame, was the band's manager.
Singer Tony Orlando was a music business insider connected to the Brill Building; he recorded hit songs 'Candida' and 'Knock Three Times' in the 1970s, but didn't want to tour; they were issued as by Dawn, a phony band name. Then Orlando decided to cash in on the hits after all, and Roxy's friend Frankie Paris put her up for the job of backing singer. Orlando must have been good at promotion: to this day, Roxy says, she doesn't know how he did it, but everywhere they went they were mobbed like superstars.
Roxy had some bad record deals; she didn't like the people in the Heavy Metal scene; she put out an EP called Gimme Gimme Good Lovin' on Personal Records in the 1980s, and the title track, written by Richie Cordell, then Joan Jett's manager, became a disco dance hit, which she found mortifying. She was thinking of quitting music, but she had too much of it in her blood. She ran into Paris at Dan Lynch's club, and began taking part in blues jams; she went to Popa Chubby's jam at the late lamented Manhattan club Manny's Carwash, and ended up playing there regularly until it closed. At last she had found her milieu: with a big belting voice capable of finesse as necessary and a punching big band that can play anything, she does not stray far from an emphasis on the blues. She has shared stages with John Mayall, Buckwheat Zydeco, Rod Piazza, Shemekia Copeland, Leon Russell, Koko Taylor and many others; she sang on CDs by Skillit, Frankie Paris and Cold Sweat, Rhett Tyler (Live At Manny's Carwash), and Rosco Gordon. Tracks from her second solo CD have appeared on compilations called Hobo Jungle on Silk City, Big Apple Blues on Taxim, and Public Domain on Purchase Records (nominated for a Grammy). Her bass player in her very experienced band is her husband of more than 30 years, Bob Fusco. All her CDs contain plenty of fine original songs; they always achieve airplay and excellent reviews, and she may yet turn out to be a legend in her own lifetime.
Her own CDs are Hi Heel Blues (1996) on Monad Records, and NY Blues Queen (1998) and Back In Bluesville (2005), both on Blueperry Hill.