“Wade In The Water” isn’t a new song, but the way Miss Freddye sings it, it’s like hearing it for the first time. Miss Freddye adds little blues nuances that give this song a bit of a fresh kick, including a Hammond B organ. But when it’s all said and done it’s Miss Freddye herself that is the main instrument of change. Her voice is a wave of emotion, flowing directly to the heart. Even if you’re not a religious or spiritual listener, hers is a voice that makes you believe in the dignity and the audacity of being alive.
Wade in the water, wade in the water…God is gonna trouble these waters, sings a genuine Miss Freddye. If you’re unsure what the song is about, that’s okay. I had to Google it. “Wade In The Water” has been a folk song that has been passed down for generations, and at one time is believed to be sung by Harriet Tubman herself as giving instructions during the days of The Underground Railroad. Over the years, the song has been recorded by several artists and choirs, and the words, taken from both the Old Testament and New Testament, have remained a solid foundation for faith. Miss Freddye honors the echoes of the past when she sings.
I also felt incredibly moved by the tempo. If you compare her work to other versions of this song, it can range from a snappier tone to a more subdued, slow track. I think Miss Freddye’s cover is somewhere in the middle, with that cool organ running through its center. I thought the organ (and piano keys) gave it a more austere tone, a different vibe. Maybe it felt more Harlem than small town-Georgia with the keys. She brings that bluesy vibe to a gospel song. I couldn’t stop myself from humming this song throughout the day. And to be frank, it also made me reflect on some personal feelings and motivation. I didn’t expect that. I felt like this song was just going to be another gospel song that had incredible vocals (which it does) but that I wouldn’t be moved the same way the singer or choir intended. I have to say that I’m certain that this song brought something my way. Be it faith, or just the human condition, I felt very connected to her words.
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Miss Freddye, who is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been awarded numerous blues awards over the years. Included in her hardware are 2008 West Virginia Blues Society for Best Blues, 2012 Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania Best Duo/Solo Act, Iron City Rocks Awards for Best Blues Band (2016, 2017, 2109) and her album, Lady Of The Blues, took home the Iron City Rocks Awards for Best Album in 2017. She also received two Blues Foundation Awards in 2018 for Best Emerging Artist CD and The Koko Taylor Traditional Blues Female. Miss Freddye influences include Koko Taylor, Etta James, Billy Holiday, Big Mama Thornton and “Big” Al Leavitt.