Amy Madden ’75 always has loved music. She played flute, guitar, and sang in bands. One day when a friend handed her a bass for the first time, she felt a strong connection. “I just felt like I was in love. It’s like I was home — I can’t even explain it,” says Madden.
About 30 at the time, she had put music on the back burner for about 10 years — during which time she had worked in the art world and done other things. But the instrument drew her in. She didn’t want to put it down. She taught herself, practiced, and auditioned for a band. “I was so bad,” she says, but she got the gig.
Since then she’s played in many different kinds of bands — from blues and rock to alternative indie and performed with artists including John Lee Hooker and Johnny Winter. For her work in the blues world, she was inducted into the New York City Blues Hall of Fame August 19.
A blues and rock bassist and songwriter, Madden says she was more of a “rock girl” when she started in the ’80s – and played at CBGB in New York. She headed to England for a while and recorded her EP Minor Disturbances. Eventually, she returned to New York. Today she regularly plays in a blues band with Jon Paris at B.B. King Blues Club. She also performs with Alan Merrill’s electric trio and other bands.
Recently she released her first solo CD, Discarded Angels, a collection of 14 original rock and blues based songs that she calls “dark” and “kind of haunting.” New York musicians including Jon Paris, Steve Holley, and Jon Gordon are guest artists on the album.
It has been tough to make ends meet as a musical artist, she admits. “I don’t know how I get by, but I really love my life.” Playing bass is “quietly demanding. … It’s really about feel and about listening,” she says. “I feel that I really understand it now.”
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