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The Queen's Chronicles 

December 2011
In This Issue
Safety in the Dark
Celtic View of the Dark Time
Where Has All the Darkness Gone?
Ladies Sing the Blues
Global Blues

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Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books and currently writes for the Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she offers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling and works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.
"Henes has a new land for us ladies who want more from life and it's called 'Sovereignty in Midlife.' If you haven't become Queen of yourself yet, this is a must read book."




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My dear sister Queens,
Writing The Queen's Chronicles is a joy and an honor - a labor of true love - but, the fact remains that it takes a great deal of time and effort and requires the services of a techno-cyber Queen to be able to offer it each month. 
Your donations allow me to continue to provide you with a monthly offering of information and inspiration for an influential, passionate and powerful maturity.
I thank you so much for your royal support. With your help, The Queen's Chronicles can maintain its mission to promote meaning, moxie, magic and majesty to women in midlife.
With regal blessings, xxQueen Mama Donna 



Once again you have provided another tremendously healing opportunity. You have so enriched my life and I am extremely grateful. In many situations, being so high energy and seeing things differently has caused me great difficulties and struggles but at your circles and in your presence I feel connected and comfortable.

- Randi, NY


Are you looking for meaning, moxie, magic and majesty in midlife?
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The transition from Maiden and Mother to Queen can be a difficult one, fraught with hard lessons and lots of loss. It takes great determination and courage to confront and embrace the changes brought about by the midlife passage.

It can be really helpful during this confusing time to have the inspiration, advice and encouragement of a counselor/coach/mentor - someone who has been there and done that and is ready to help you do the same.

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Ever since I first introduced The Queen as a helpful archetype for midlife women, I have received hundreds of requests for detailed instructions on how to become a Queen.


"Dear Mama Donna," women would write, "I want to be a Queen, too. How do I access my power? How can I feel good about myself? How do I change my life? How do I find magic and spiritual wisdom? How do I know what to do? How do I learn how to rule?"


The reality is that I cannot possibly know how anyone else will attain her Queendom, I only know how I came into mine, and that is largely through hindsight. The truth, my truth, at least, is that there is no one true truth. We must each find our own way in this world.


As a shaman, I teach through example, but not through dictum. I can and do offer information, exposure, personal experience, encouragement, inspiration, suggestions and support to my constituents, but I cannot - dare not - pass judgment or establish rules and laws. It is simply not for me to say.


When you come to me for help and spiritual guidance, I listen to your concerns and embrace your needs. I pat you on the back, give you a good, swift kick in the butt, or let you cry on my shoulder, as needed. I can tell you what I did in such and such situation, how I did it, what I learned from this or that lesson, but I cannot tell you what you should do. How do I know what your soul needs?


Only you know what you know. I can, of course, aid you in reaching into the well of your own deepest wisdom, and help you to hear the messages from your best inner Self. And I can offer tools and practices to help you develop the confidence to follow your own purpose, path, passion and power.


A woman who I have been working with recently told me that I had changed her life. "Well, no, of course, I didn't, honey," I assured her. "You changed your own life." The fact of the matter remains that I could not give her what was not already hers.




I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.


- Anna Quindlen


with Mama Donna


Red Telephone 





Lessons in practical spirituality that offer no-nonsense approaches and practices to help you live your daily life in

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Crowned Queens at Isis Institute, TX
Crowned Queens

Isis Institute, Austin, TX






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1/3 off reading for December Birthdays. In person or by phone.

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Wednesday, 11:45 PM




With Mama Donna Henes,
Urban Shaman & Friends  

Today is as dark as it gets!
The light will now begin its slow
return to the Northern hemisphere. Let us drum back the sun and reignite the light in our hearts. Let us shine our spirit on the whole world! 
This is a family friendly event. Kids and dogs are welcome. Please bring a candle in a glass container, drums, percussions and lots and lots of spirit. RAIN OR SHINE!

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Saturday, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

TAROT 101 for Beginners

A Spirit Support Skills Workshop

Learn the basics about the tarot and how to rev up your intuitive skills. This introductory workshop will be required for future tarot classes. The next series of 8 classes begins on January 21, 2012.

Mama Donna's Tea Garden
& Healing Haven
Park Slope, Exotic Brooklyn, NY
For info: 718-857-1343

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JANUARY 21, 28 

FEBRUARY 4, 11, 25, no class 2/18
MARCH 3, 10, 17

Saturdays from 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Specialized Study:
Beginner class is required

We will cover the symbolism of the major and minor arcanas and court cards, as well as basic numerology, and spreads.

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"It was wonderful interviewing you on my show. Your story telling is mesmerizing and you really hold an audience!!"

- Laurie Huston, Intuitive Soul Radio, Toronto, ON, Canada


Anita Roddick

The newly renovated Queen's Emporium specializes in all manner of elegant, practical, and frivolous goods to fulfill all the royal needs and fantasies of The Queen of Your Self. Therein you will find a choice collection of goods to augment and accessorize your royal prerogative.

Anoint, Adorn, Enjoy!

Shine your regal spirit 
this holiday season   
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Sparkle with Sovereignty

Brilliant rhinestone crowns dangle from your ears, leaving no doubt as to who is Queen.

1/2 " long.



I wore my rhinestone crown earrings to a party recently and all the women commented on how lovely they were. I really felt like a Queen! Thank you.  

- Sarah, KS



A ritual in a bottle. Use this oil to bless your Self with the sovereignty that you seek. Made by Queen Mama Donna, herself.

2 oz. bottle in gauze bag
(Includes shipping in the USA)


The Queen's Emporium


Just in time for the holidays!    

In addition to the elegant offerings at the original location of
The Queen's Emporium,

There is now also a
Queen of My Self Shop
at CafePress

The Queen of My Self
Travel Mug

The Queen of My Self 
iPhone Case

Do stop by and check out all the amazing new products fit for The Queen of Your Self and every other Queen in your life. Kitchenware, business accoutrements, stylish accessories, and assorted items both useful and whimsical.

The Queen of My Self Journal

Shop till you drop without ever having to get dressed! 

Read and listen to Queen Mama Donna's words of information and inspiration.

Red indicates the most recent additions.


Regular Columns:

Always in Season

The Huffington Post

Ask Your Mama

Pagan Pages
The Oracle
Catalyst Magazine
New Age Journal
UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum
Wisdom Magazine

The Queen of My Self: Meaning, Moxie and Majesty for Midlife Women



Recent Articles about QMD:

The New York Times 


Recent Articles by QMD: 
Recent Radio Interviews:

Living an Organic and Orgasmic Life with Coach Betty 


Amazon Author Page:


The Queen of My Self was named as a Best Ezine! 

Mama Donna's website received a Best Spiritual Site Award!

Queen Mama Donna and The Queen's Chronicles were named Baby Boom Woman Blogger To Watch Out For by Virtual Woman's Day!


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It is my hope that as more and more women rise to reign in the fullest potential of our supremacy, we will harness our purpose, passion, and power and direct it toward creating a more balanced and peaceful world. This is the legacy of Her majesty.

Turn Your
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Sending all Queens everywhere blessings of illuminating light in the dark and greetings for a sensational holiday season!
Black and Blues

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Hail Queens!



Surely the essential quality of winter is its absence of light. And that, so much more than the attendant cold weather, is what so many people dread about it. The long, dark, isolating chill of winter understandably renders many of us susceptible to sadness. Seasonal Affective Disorder is considered to be an affliction, which is treated with intense doses of light.


Despite this solstice time being marked by many festivals and displays of light, the winter holidays are dark times for many folks. The commercial pressures of the holidaze are depressing in the best of times, and now it is exacerbated by the dire economic situations that so many of us are dealing with.


The seasonal dark only intensifies the dark feelings engendered by the state of the world these days. The planet and 99% of Her species are just holding on by a thread under constant bombardment by war, violent weather, pollution, bigotry, hunger, disease, and short-sighted, greedy, cynical development and resource exploitation. 


On top of that, many of us are suffering from a midlife crisis, a dark night of the soul as we adjust - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually - to the huge changes in our life and circumstances, dealing as we are with empty nests, divorce, death of loved ones, ageist glass ceilings and the rude truth of our own mortality.


Sad woman Sad woman with glass


Dark. Dark. Dark. Black. Deep. Depressing.


It feels especially hard, because our culture just doesn't do dark. The problem with that is if we only embrace the light, we will miss experiencing half of each day; half of each year; half of our range of emotions; half of our lives. And, my sisters, there are just some things that you can only learn in the dark.


There is something very bittersweet about sadness. It can be soothing and comforting, offering safety in a consuming cocoon of sorrow. I always say that pain is the midwife of compassion. Sadness, depression, grief, regret, guilt, have a language all their own. And if you have not experienced these emotions, you do not have the vocabulary to recognize the feelings in others, and to offer the succor born of having been there and done that.


Winter is an excellent time to think of the dark as a place of quiet and repose, where we can experience our frightening and unhappy feelings. Really feel them. Embrace them. Own them. And once we do, we can begin to loosen their paralyzing grip on us. We can't release something if it is not ours.


The best way to release dark feelings is to express them honestly, unabashedly, and with deep feeling. Let us write, paint, dance, sing, moan, wail, lament, shout, belt out our damn moody blues!


With blessings of dark and light, black and blues,


Safety in the Dark


The dark is our friend. As we get older and have had more terrible and disastrous things happen in our lives, we begin to realize that there are just some things that you can only learn in the dark. The dark nurtures the richest veins at the extreme depth of our feelings. Like any seed, we need the dark to grow. And like any tree, we do our most growing underground - sending our roots through the dark, ever deeper, wider; extending our reach in search of nourishment through the long cold night of winter.


"Plants die after producing their seeds, which are buried in the ground, storing precious energy. During the darkest days of winter, these seeds begin to germinate, thus completing Nature's cycle. So, too, this dark night of the soul will produce new growth in time. At no other moment are you more deeply in

Sprouttouch with your will to survive. The darkness of night can be terrifying, but it can also bring blessed sleep and relief from the day's troubles. Perhaps the most peaceful time of life is experienced in the darkness of the womb as life's potential begins to take form. The winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, brings hope and the return of the Sun's life. Likewise, your darkest moments hold the power of healing. Conserve your energies. Sink deep into your inner Self to find that seed of new life."


- M.E. Warlick

From The Alchemy Stones 

Celtic View of the Dark Time


This comes from a sister Queen, Jo Coffey. It is in response to an article that I wrote for my daily column on Beliefnet. 



Jo Coffey
It was really a lift to read your piece about the Dark Time. I have been feeling out of sorts, but it helps just to realize that other people are in the same situation, and that there are ways to work with this time.


I'm passing on these thoughts from the Irish sense of the year as a way of perhaps participating in your work at a distance.


The New Year begins at Samhain (around November 1) with death. Death is probably the most powerful portal to the Otherworld, not just for the one who dies, but for those who have some connection with the dying one.


Samhain is the death of the year, so this is the time of year that the veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest. That's where our Halloween festivities come from, of course. Death is also a time of dissolution, a time of breaking of form, in that sense, a time of destruction.


The very next significant moment in the year is the Winter Solstice, when the elements that have been liberated by death are brought back into the cycle of life through the marriage - the cosmic sexual union - of light and darkness. The 5,000-year old temple at Newgrange celebrates just this marriage, when the light from the sun enters the womb of the earth at sunrise, the junction point of night and day.


Around the solstice and just after, the period we are now in, all things - the creatures of the earth and even the sun - are quietly and mostly out of sight growing, gathering energy and strength, getting ready to be born.


Light and dark, day and night, are the two primary energies as the Irish understand space/time. Male and female present themselves in the first instance in these forms. I found an interesting confirmation of this recently in a piece entitled "The Golden Age" that Yeats published in his Celtic Twilight:


"A while ago I was in the train, and getting near Sligo. The last time I had been there something was troubling me, and I longed for a message from those beings or bodiless moods, or whatever they be, who inhabit the world of spirits. The message came, for one night I saw with blinding distinctiveness a black animal, half weasel, half dog, moving along the top of a stone wall, and presently the black animal vanished, and from the other side came a white weasel-like dog, his pink flesh shining through his white hair and all in a blaze of light; and I remembered the peasant belief about two fairy dogs who go about representing day and night, good and evil."


Yeats makes the patriarchal identification of dark with evil. It's so important to work to correct that, just as you are doing.


 - Jo Coffey, CA/Ireland

Where Has All the Darkness Gone?

                        Where has all the darkness gone?


                        What Maestro Dylan Thomas called "the close & holy dark?"


                        The midnight hour & the hours before & after?


                        Where can we go to see a starry sky,


                        the pearls of the Milky Way,


                        the glittering constellations


                        set off by darkest night?


                        Our whole civilization conspires


                        to show us everything in the glaring light-


                        the street lights, the store signs,


                        the porch lights, the driveways, the highways,


                        the headlights.


                        Where has the mystery of night gone?


                        I adopted a black mother cat once,


                        & named her Mystery a.k.a. Ms. Tree.


                        Wisely, she fled from civilization.


                        If I knew how, I would too,


                        I would too.


- Karen Ethelsdattir, NJ 

For Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman

Thank you, Queen Ethel, for the dedication. I am honored.




The Ladies Sing the Blues


When we think of blues music, we envision the image of a weathered old black man in overalls hunched over his guitar in some southern rural state. Not!


The first blues stars were women.


A woman, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, was the first person to perform the blues on stage as popular entertainment in about 1902, hence her moniker "Mother of the Blues." Rainey had heard a woman singing about the man she'd lost, learned the song, and began using it as her closing number, calling it "the blues."


A woman, Mamie Smith, was first to make a commercial blues recording, "Crazy Blues," in 1920. The record was a phenomenal success by the standards of the day. It sold 75,000 copies in the first month, and this was at a time when much of the U.S. population, and an even higher percentage of the African-American population, didn't own a record player.


Mamie Smith became known as "America's First Lady of the Blues," and her success opened the floodgates for numerous blueswomen - Ida Cox, Sippie Wallace, Victoria Spivey, Lucille Bogan, Ethel Waters, and Alberta Hunter are some of the most famous - who dominated the recorded blues market, bringing the blues to a national audience. 


A woman, Tennessee-born Bessie Smith was the most popular of the classic blues singers. Smith, who was not related to Mamie Smith, was known as the "Empress of the Blues." Her large, raw, emotional voice, her "T'ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do" attitude, and her 160 recorded songs made her the highest-paid black artist of the 1920s.


Of course, it was women who first sang the blues. The blues belong to women! These women were brave enough to bare their pain in public. They wrote and sang from a female perspective about sex, infidelity, money, and drink. They lamented their problems with a palpable hurt. A bleeding heart.


The craze for female blues singers peaked in the mid 1920s, and then came the Depression. The record business crumbled, labels not wanting to invest in a "race" audience, as the African-American fans were poorer than ever. Times were hard all around. Mamie Smith, died penniless in 1946. Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey would themselves be dead by 1940.


The original female blues stars of the '20s didn't always disappear entirely. Alberta Hunter, for instance, became more popular after the 1920s, and made an unexpectedly successful comeback as a senior citizen in the 1970s and 1980s, after about 25 years of retirement.


Alberta played at a club in Greenwich Village and I got to see her live a couple of times. She was in her eighties and was most definitely and undeniably the hottest mama in the room. Her energy was like electric honey - thick, slow, sweet, sad, seductive, and oh, so exciting. The excruciating sweetness of sorrow.


Yes, women sure do know how to sing the blues!


1. Mamie Smith

Born: May 26, 1883, Cincinnati, Ohio

Died: October 30, 1946, New York, New York


Mamie Smith was primarily a cabaret and vaudeville singer, but she made blues history by being the first singer to record a blues song. "Crazy Blues," recorded in 1920, was a huge hit, selling more than one million copies within a year of its release. This success inspired the release of further blues recordings by female artists. So, although Mamie Smith technically wasn't a blues singer, she was a groundbreaking and influential artist for the genre. Her majestic stage presence and ornate costumes and jewelry also influenced other female blues singers of the twenties.


Essential listening: "Crazy Blues," "It's Right Here for You," "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down," "That Thing Called Love"



2. Ma Rainey

Born: April 26, 1886, Columbus, Georgia

Died: December 22, 1939, Rome, Georgia


She began performing at the age of 12 or 14, and recorded under the name Ma Rainey after she and Will Rainey were married in 1904. They toured with F.S. Wolcott's Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. From the time of her first recording in 1923 to five years later, Ma Rainey made over 100 recordings. 


Ma Rainey was known for her very powerful vocal abilities, energetic disposition, majestic phrasing, and a 'moaning' style of singing similar to folk tradition. Though her strong voice and disposition are not captured on her recordings, the other characteristics are present, and most evident on her early recordings, Bo-weevil Blues and Moonshine Blues. Ma Rainey also recorded with Louis Armstrong in addition to touring and recording with the Georgia Jazz Band. Ma Rainey continued to tour until 1935 when she retired to her hometown.


Essential listening: "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Blues Oh Blues," "Oh, Papa Blues," "Big Feeling Blues"



3. Bessie Smith

Born: April 15, 1894, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Died: September 26, 1937, Clarksdale, Mississippi


Bessie Smith's talent as a vocalist is legendary, and she has influenced generations of blues singers, from Billie Holiday to Janis Joplin. She was enormously successful throughout the twenties as a blues and sometimes jazz singer, and beyond that she was an inspiration to the black community, as she lived her life with confidence and uncompromising self-respect, on no one's terms but her own. This self-assurance was part of the appeal of her rich, expressive vocals. Smith sometimes wrote her own material, such as "Back Water Blues." Her career was impacted by the Depression, as were the careers of many artists, but she continued to perform. She was probably on the verge of a comeback, reportedly having been scheduled to play Carnegie Hall at John Hammond's legendary concert "From Spirituals to Swing," when she was killed in a car accident in 1937.


Essential recordings: "Lost Your Head Blues," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," "'Tain't Nobody's Business if I Do," "Back Water Blues," "Broken Hearted Blues"



4. Ida Cox

Born: February 25, 1896, Toccoa, Georgia

Died: November 10, 1967, Knoxville, Tennessee

Also known as: Ida Prather


Ida Cox was one of the great 1920s blues singers. She began her career as a teenager, traveling throughout the south as a singer with tent and vaudeville shows. Cox was also a versatile businesswoman - for a time she ran her own touring company, working as a producer and manager as well as performer. She was a prolific and popular recording artist throughout the 1920s who wrote many of her own songs, one of which is the well-known "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues." Cox tended to direct her shows toward black female audiences, with songs that examined various issues from a female perspective. Cox's career was active throughout the 1930s, when health problems reportedly forced her into retirement, although she did manage an additional recording session in the early 1960s.


Essential listening: "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues," "Last Mile Blues," "Pink Slip Blues," "Cemetery Blues"



5. Victoria Spivey

Born: October 15, 1906, Houston, Texas

Died: October 3, 1976, New York, New York


Victoria Spivey's career lasted much longer than that of most other female blues singers of the 1920s. She was a clever songwriter who unflinchingly addressed diverse topics, and as a vocalist her delivery of the blues was sincere and convincing. Spivey started out as a performer in Houston, and is rumored to have played with Blind Lemon Jefferson. For a time she worked as a songwriter for the St. Louis Music Company, and later was based in New York, where she performed constantly. Spivey was artistically influenced by blues great Ida Cox, and she may have also been influenced by her on a more practical level - both women are reputed to have had formidable business acumen. Spivey took a hiatus from music during the fifties, but managed a comeback in the early sixties, starting her own record company just in time for the mid-sixties blues revival to breathe new life into her career as a performer. She released predominantly classic blues on her record label, and continued to tour until her death in 1976.


Essential listening: "Dope Head Blues," "Black Snake Blues," TB Blues," "Organ Grinder Blues"



6. Billie Holiday

Born: April 7, 1915, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died: July 17, 1959, New York, New York

Also known as: Eleanora Fagan Gough


Billie Holiday was a legendary vocalist whose uncompromising artistry and highly original, personalized style - which included an innovative sense of phrasing, rhythm and harmony - has had a tremendous impact on generations of vocalists from all genres. Holiday's life was fraught with difficulty, which may be why she was able to sing the blues so convincingly. A huge part of her appeal was her ability to convey the meaning of the lyrics, giving the impression that she had lived her material. Holiday has acknowledged Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong as two of her primary influences, and during her career she worked with legends Artie Shaw, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman. Among her many classic recordings are the disturbingly evocative "Strange Fruit," which controversially addressed the violence of racism, and her own composition "God Bless the Child."


Essential listening: "Lover Man," "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," "Good Morning Heartache"



7. Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Born: March 20, 1921, Cotton Plant, Arkansas

Died: October 9, 1973, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Sister Rosetta Tharpe mastered the guitar by the age of 6, and grew up singing gospel with her mother. Tharpe was a riveting performer with a flair for showmanship and a definite blues influence in her phrasing and musicianship. She signed a recording contract with Decca while still a teenager and her recordings were huge hits. Tharpe's talent and appeal were so outrageous and contagious that it was inevitable her talents would one day extend beyond the gospel community. Her later career embodied the early, ongoing battle between sacred music and a more secular sound - a struggle that many black artists from the gospel tradition have had to face. Eventually Tharpe caused great controversy in the gospel community and lost much of her loyal audience when she recorded pure blues in the early 1950s (along with gospel artist Madame Marie Knight). It took about a decade before Tharpe made her way back to acceptance from the gospel community. She continued to tour until her death in 1973.


Essential listening: "Rock Me," "This Train," "Down by the Riverside," "Didn't it Rain," "Up Above My Head



8. Big Mama Thornton

Born: December 11, 1926, Montgomery, Alabama

Died: July 25, 1984, Los Angeles, California

Also known as: Willie Mae Thornton


Big Mama Thornton was a great blues vocalist in the tradition of Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Ma Rainey, and was also a drummer and harmonica player. She had considerable success with her 1953 recording of "Hound Dog," which reached number 1 on the R&B charts and stayed there for seven weeks. (Three years later the song was immortalized by Elvis Presley.) Thornton began her professional singing career at the age of 14, touring the South with the Hot Harlem Revue. She later moved to Houston, Texas where she did some recording and worked with Johnny Otis and Junior Parker, among others. In the early sixties she settled in San Francisco, playing in local blues clubs as well as touring with blues festivals. Thornton continued to perform until her death in 1984. Among her recordings is "Ball 'n Chain," recorded in 1965, which Janis Joplin covered three years later.


Essential listening: "Hound Dog," "Ball and Chain," "Just Like a Dog," "I Smell a Rat," "Stop Hoppin' on Me"



9. Koko Taylor

Born: September 28, 1935, Memphis, Tennessee

Died: June 3, 2009, Chicago, Illinois

Also known as: Cora Walton


Koko Taylor was a testament to blues history and could belt out a song powerfully and joyfully. A warm, charismatic performer, she was the undisputed Queen of Chicago Blues for decades. Taylor's career began after she and her husband moved from Memphis to Chicago, where they frequented the local blues clubs. Once she began sitting in with bands it quickly became obvious she could hold her own not only among female vocalists, but with any of the male heavy hitters, such as contemporaries Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Among her fans was blues great Willie Dixon, who was instrumental in the advancement of her career. Her recording of his original song "Wang Dang Doodle" climbed the rhythm and blues charts, was a million-plus seller, and remains one of her classics. For almost 20 years running, she garnered the prestigious W.C. Handy Award. A legend in her own right, she has been compared to blues greats Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton. In the late 1980s Taylor overcame health challenges and adversity to maintain her reputation as a performer and recording artist of passionate, soulful blues.


Essential listening: "I'm A Woman," "Wang Dang Doodle," "What Kind of Man is This," "I Got What it Takes"



10. Ruth Brown

Born: January 1, 1928, Portsmouth, Virginia


Ruth Brown's smooth vocals made the rhythm and blues charts regularly between 1949 and 1955, and helped a then-fledgling Atlantic Records establish itself as a formidable presence in the R&B world. Later in her long and versatile career she became known as a rock and roll and pop singer as well as a stage and film actress, winning a Tony award on Broadway. She has influenced many R&B and soul artists, and her enduring talent is evidenced by her recent solo recordings and guest appearances with artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Shemekia Copeland and B.B. King, as well as a Grammy win in the late 1980s. Brown continues to perform.


Essential listening: "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean," "Teardrops From My Eyes," "Don't Deceive Me," "Mambo Baby"



11. Etta James

Born: January 25, 1938, Los Angeles, California


Singing with a vocal trio called the Peaches while in her early teens, James was discovered early in her career by R&B band leader Johnny Otis, with whom she wrote her first hit "Roll With Me." She became a mainstay of Otis' revue through the mid-'50s, recording the hit "Good Rockin' Daddy" in 1955. In 1960 she moved over to Chess Records' Argo subsidiary, and the hits kept coming. While scoring and recording, she also sang background vocals on Chuck Berry's "Almost Grown" and "Back in the U.S.A." Though she faced difficult times from the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s as a result of a heroin addiction, she still managed to produce at least three major hits. Throughout her career, she managed to turn out well over a dozen great hits, and she remains a predominant figure in jazz and blues, recording and performing to an ever-increasing audience and critical acclaim. She won her first Grammy in 1994 for Mystery Lady: The Songs of Billie Holiday, and she has since been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Essential listening: "Good Rockin' Daddy," "Dance With Me Henry," "At Last," "Trust in Me," "Tell Mama," "I've Found A Love," "I'd Rather Go Blind," Album - Mystery Lady: The Songs of Billie Holiday



Bonnie Raitt12. Bonnie Raitt

Born: November 8, 1949


An accomplished slide guitarist and blues singer/songwriter, Bonnie Raitt incongruously dropped out of an Ivy League college to work as an itinerant blues musician. Her considerable skill made an impression on Boston's blues scene, and she quickly won the respect of her peers, later playing with blues legends Howlin' Wolf, Son House, Muddy Waters, and others. Raitt began recording to critical acclaim in the early seventies, mixing blues with R&B, pop, jazz and New Orleans influences and garnering a loyal cult following. Like her female predecessors, her music often features a gender-specific spin on the blues; her original interpretation of Chris Smither's "Love Me Like a Man" contains a clever response to Muddy Waters's "Rock Me," and her rendition of Sippie Wallace's "Women Be Wise" likewise offers a refreshing female perspective. In the eighties Raitt's career slowed somewhat until the release of the aptly-titled Nick of Time in 1989, at which point, in the words of blues historian Robert Santelli, she "pulled off one of the greatest career turnarounds in modern pop history."* Raitt received six Grammy awards for the album, and followed it up with another Grammy-winner in 1992. She continues to record and tour.


Essential listening: "Love Me Like a Man," "Give It Up or Let Me Go," "Women Be Wise," "Walking Blues," "Feeling of Falling"



Cassandra Wilson13. Cassandra Wilson

Born: December 4, 1955, Jackson, Mississippi


Cassandra Wilson is primarily known as an accomplished jazz singer, although her stunning full, low voice and skill as a songwriter have encompassed other genres, and she has been heavily influenced by the musical traditions of the south, including the Delta blues. She cites the complexity of Robert Johnson's songwriting, guitar work and vocal delivery as one of her primary influences. Wilson is a prolific recording artist, and has followed up her 1985 debut with almost one album each year, and sometimes two. Her body of work includes acoustic blues, folk, jazz, and funk. Wilson's 1999 release, Traveling Miles, was a tribute to Miles Davis. She has toured with Wynton Marsalis. Her critically-acclaimed recent release, Belly of the Sun, was recorded in Mississippi with both her own band and local musicians and combines funk, pop and rock with a tribute to pure Delta blues.


Essential listening: "You Move Me," "Round Midnight," "Darkness on the Delta," "You Gotta Move," "Hot Tamales"



Shamekia14. Shemekia Copeland

Born: 1979, New York, New York


Shemekia Copeland began appearing on stage with her father, Texas bluesman Johnny Copeland, as a child, and as a teenager she toured with him as his opening act, stunning audiences with a confident stage presence, which seemed to belie her youth. Her vocal prowess matches her charisma as a performer. At the age of 19, Copeland released her debut album, inspiring comparisons to blues legends Etta James and Koko Taylor. By 2002 Copeland had released two more albums to critical acclaim, and won three of the blues' prestigious W.C. Handy awards. She has worked with Ruth Brown, one of her original influences, as well as Dr. John and others.


Essential listening: "The Other Woman," "I Always Get My Man," "Have Mercy," "Your Mama's Talking," "Not Tonight," "The Push I Need"


This article is from All That Jazz.

Global Blues

Watch these Queens from around the world - Indonesian, African-American, Chinese, Belarusian, and aging Hippy-American - wail out their midlife blues.


I Need Your Love So Bad -- My Grandmother Playing the Guitar
I Need Your Love So Bad - My Grandmother Playing the Guitar
Dirty Old Woman - Joyce Henderson Blues
Dirty Old Woman - Joyce Henderson Blues
5 AM INSOMNIA BLUES - Wild Older Women CD Release Concert
5AM INSOMNIA BLUES - Wild Older Women CD Release Concert
A 68 year old lady playing the guitar singing a song for her dead husband.
A 68 year old lady playing the guitar singing a song for her dead husband.
Blues from old woman (Belarus)
Blues from old woman (Belarus)
HOT & GETTIN HOTTER - Sweet Joyce Ann
HOT & GETTIN HOTTER - Sweet Joyce Ann
The Queen's Correspondence

moon goddess

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to The Queen's Chronicles.

Please keep your comments coming. And do feel free to make suggestions about  content you would like to see. Or anything else, for that matter. It is a joy to connect with you.  

Letters In Response to
the November 2011 Issue:


Thanks for this issue of The Queen's Chronicles. My kids and grandkids were together for Thanksgiving again this delicious. Since my tumble in June, we have had a number of subtle discussions about my mortality, some of it surrounding the need for a list of any of my possessions that I want to have passed down. Your words are another reminder of how important that is, and even more so of the need to use and enjoy what I have every day.

- Saundra, CA


I loved reading The Queen's Court. All the readers who contributed their experiences and opinions on The Empty Nest and what it means to midlife women was so stimulating. I felt a sense of recognition and camaraderie with them all. Thanks for creating this forum where we can express ourselves and be heard.

- Dorothy, NJ


And not only heard. You (all) are honored for your truth and wisdom. We Queens know what we know. (A lot!) We know what we want. And we are not shy about sharing our experiences and our views. This makes us wise, each in our own unique and valuable way. How lucky we are to be connected to each other, even in such an abstract and ephemeral way as The Queen's Court.


The Queen's Court will be expanding its domain in 2012 to include more opportunities to interface with other fabulous Queens across the country and around the world. Watch for the royal news in the New Year.



Thank you so much for including the link to my YouTube video and for your kind words in the latest newsletter. As usual, The Queen's Chronicles is chock full of thoughts, ideas, problems, solutions and celebrations that resonate with me. I've been working on my connection with the feminine divine for years now, and have always had an aversion to the term "crone." So imagine my delight when I read the excerpt from your book in which you suggest that the Maiden, Mother, Crone segmentation of women's lives may not quite be the right fit! I too have thought in terms of quarters instead of thirds, but couldn't figure out how to label those life segments. Being a Queen is perfect! And, as so often happens, it has been there right in front of me for years. My late husband's mother is now 94. We happen to share the same birth month and for years now, when we celebrate, we have laughed about me being the "Princess" of the family and her being the "Queen." Well, in 2012 she will be 95 and I will be 65. She has made it known that she will then retire her crown and become the "Queen Mother," and I will get promoted to "Queen!" So on that day I will begin the 3rd segment of my life and will look forward to "passing the crown" on to someone else when I enter the last segment (hopefully also at the age of 95!). Once again my deepest thanks for including me in your Kudos section. And my wishes to you for a cozy and contemplative winter season.

- Donna, CT


I've been reading your blog and newsletter for a while now, and as a Queen myself, well, I just think you rock.

- Sue, CA  


I was lying on the bed in the room that my mom stays in when she is here, and when I looked above the door I saw The Queen of My Self, was sitting on the upper door frame as a colour guide, for the view she saw through the doorway - a violet wall was on the other side down the hall with hot lime green either side and the book was her guide when she helped me pick the colours! Thought you'd get a kick out of that!

- Kim, Ontario, Canada


I am nearing my 57th birthday next week. I've been through a very difficult phase and am still floundering to regain my old sense of joy and balance. Your book is helping me put a name on the angst - and sense of unmooring - I've battled for the past two years. Your book has been such a comfort - and exactly what I needed. I am looking forward to writing a glowing review, but meanwhile, I wanted to thank you for being there; for the work you're doing, and for the wonderful Queen's Chronicles. As I told my husband earlier this week, I feel as though my prayer for a "fairy godmother" was answered when I read the first chapter of your book. Gratefully,

Cindy, MI


Thanks for inspiring and challenging us every month! With love and admiration,

- Queen Tracey, NY



Please send your responses to


Your letters will be printed in the next Queen's Chronicles.
Kudos to the Queens!

clapping hands rotated

We extend hearty congratulations to our multi-talented circle of Sister Queens for their impressive accomplishments and successes.



What we do now is to be valued - but we need to do more, so that it's more exciting to other people, and therefore that excitement shines back on us and we're able to have the energy to do more, to widen our creativity.

- Siobhan Davies


Barbara Hammer, NY; Annie Lanzilotto, NY; Reno, NY; Laura Simms, NY;

and Diane Torr, Scotland; on their performances and/or performances of their work.


Jennifer Fox, NYMy Reincarnation (Film); Barbara Love, NJ, Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975 (CD); Sondra Slade as Auntie Matter, CA, The Little Book of Odes & Invocations (Book); Flash Silvermoon, FL, Janis Joplin and Me: 40 Years of Music and Magic (E-book); Starhawk, CA; The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups (Book); and Edie Weinstein-Moser, PA; Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary (Video); on their new publications.


Barbara Alper, NY; Jerri Allyn, CA; Susan Grabel, NY; Meryl Meisler, NY; Lorraine O'Grady, NY; and Carolee Schneeman, NY; on the exhibitions of their artwork. 


Robin Bady, NY, on receiving The J.J. Reneaux Emerging Artist Grant.


Hilary Mandel, BC, Canada; Deanne Quarrie, Brazil; and Kris Waldherr, NY; on their new homes.


Dear Queen Donna,


I am 59, coming to 60 next year and positively reveling in the years since I turned 50, finding The Real Me, using many of the rituals that you've documented in your book. I have even taken up song-writing again, something I used to do as a young adult until someone told me to get a proper job. This I did, and I honestly believe my soul started to wither, but has recently started to flower again since I formed a partnership called Wild Love Music and we're writing songs together. Unfortunately, in spite of my desire, I can't sing most of the songs myself, but I do sing some of them, the ones that incite me not to take myself too seriously.


This link to YouTube is a video (well a series of images) that I have made myself (my first attempt at anything like this), to go with the title song of a musical I'm currently working on called "Will the Real Me Please Stand up." Because it's a power ballad I have NOT sung on it. It's sung by a wonderful recording client of ours, Tahira Jumah. It's not for sale, it's only for enjoyment at the moment.  


I honestly believe that I can be an inspiration to other women that "It's never too late" to find and follow your dreams, as I am doing at age 59. And there are countless other women who are my role models, who haven't found their dreams until their 70's or even their 80's, I know that. I send you love and blessings from a very grey London.


- Heather, England 


Send your good news, achievements, accomplishments, successes and celebrations so that our international circle of sovereign sisters can send you blessings and accolades.

And we are glad to so. It is a joy and a privilege to share in the fortune of another woman. I recently heard Oprah say the saddest thing ever - "The hardest thing about being successful is having someone to be glad for you."

It takes a centered and confident Queen to break that pattern. There are 60 million thrones out there. One for each of us. There is plenty of purpose, passion and power for us all. May we use it well!

It is important that you recognize your progress and take pride in your accomplishments. Share your achievements with others. Brag a little. The recognition and support of those around you is nurturing.
- Rosemarie Rossetti

Circle of Concern

Helping Hands Circle 

Please Offer Your Purest Thoughts, Your
Heart-Felt Prayers, Your Great Good Feelings, And Your Very Best Blessings For Healing and Peace of Mind To:



Alison, TN; Amy, NY; Bebee, DE; Berenice, NY; Betty, AL; Chrissie, NY; Dana, CA; Dani, WI; Dominique, NM; Dee, NY; Erica, New Zealand; Glenys, Australia; Joanne, CA; Jo, AZ; Judith, NY; Karen, NJ; Kathleen, PA; Kay, NY; Kazuko, NY; Kimi, NJ; Lorie, KY; Lydia, CO; Lisa, PA; Lucia, TX; Mari, VA; Mary, MD; Naomi, DC; Pat, MA; Patsy, NY; Pearl, NY; Randi, NY; Ruth, NY; Sandi, NY; Sandy, CA; Sheryll, CA; Shirley, IN; Sherli, CA; Sid, PA; Smriti, CA; Susan, MA; Susan, NC; Terri, FL; Wicki, NY; and Yvette, NY; who are in the process of healing themselves from illness, accident, injury or surgery.


Amy, NY; D. Barbara, NY; Kimberly, NY; Kimi, NJ; Linda, NY; Linda, NY; Maureen, NY; Meryl, NY; Dee, NY; Patricia, Australia; and Regi, CA who would benefit greatly from some spiritual support. 


Ali, VT; Chrys, NY; Erica, New Zealand; Gail, NY; Lois, NY; Nancy, NC; Roslyn, NJ; and Sharon, FL; the caregivers who are in weary need of care themselves.

May Their Spirits Rest in Peace: 

Abby Frank, FL
Deborah Fern Hill, TX
Joanne Olsen, WI
Elaine Stocker, IL

With Heartfelt Condolences:

Eunice Fisher, FL

Lee Glanton, NJ;

Beverly Nadleman, NY

Terese Svoboda, NY


Prayer Request: 

Legendary blue singer Etta James, CA, is terminally ill after a rapid decline in her health in recent years. Her doctor, Elaine James (no relation), announced that fans should start praying for the 73-year-old entertainer.


So many gods, so many creeds,

So many paths that wind and wind,

While just the art of being kind,

Is all this sad world needs.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox  

Please send your requests for physical and spiritual healing and positive energy so that the powerful women of The Queen's Court might send their prayers and blessings to you in your time of need.
Where the Queens Are





This is from Amalya, Priestess of the Goddess Temple of Escondido, in response to an email that I sent out for Guadalupe Day.


I adore Our Lady of Guadalupe. I admire the creative images, amulets, and altars that She inspires. And I especially love the passionate adoration bestowed upon Her by Her legions of devotees, among whom I am one. ...



I, too, adore our Lady of Guadalupe! Being in San Diego, She is quite a significant Goddess here! I have had many magical "meetings" with our Lady in one form or another over the years! We have been celebrating Her feast day here at the Goddess Studio of Escondido for the last five years.


Finally, last year I got inspired to research Her story, mythology, "herstory," and symbols. I compiled this article (Tonantzin-Coatlique-Guadalupe.pdf) of all the research I did online. It is mostly "compiled" by me, not written by me, and I've tried to give credits as appropriate. Feel free to share it with your readers. I hope you enjoy it!


Here is a picture of our Guadalupe Feast day last year.  

Guadalupe MeetUp 


Here is the altar to Our Lady of Guadalupe.


Lady of Guadalupe Altar 


And this is a painting I did some time ago.


Lady of Guadalupe 


Many Blessings of Our Lady to you!


- Amalya

The Goddess Studio of Escondido



Please Submit Your Royal Reports. Tell us about your Self and/or your Queen Group:  

Who, what, where, when, why? What Queenly topics do you explore?

What projects do you engage in? Describe some golden moments.

Send pictures!