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Andra Faye

Andra Faye (photo) Andra Faye has loved singing & drawing since she can remember. The first instrument she remembers wanting to learn to play was the piano…but since she grew up in a small house, her folks got her a Magnus chord organ instead! Next she wanted to play the flute when the opportunity came along in grade school to learn an instrument & play in band or orchestra. Instead, her father said, "There's an old fiddle in the closet, that's what you can learn to play!" So, indeed, that's what she learned to play. She sang in chorus & played in the school orchestra until forced to choose one or the other…and continued to play in the orchestra. She loved art class as much as music, and studied art through high school, too.

In her alternative high school, she was offered many different experiences, and orchestra was pushed to the side. But, she started playing music with friends, and learned to jam & improvise outside of her classical training, on all kinds of music. She'd always loved to dance & loved the "Motown Sound", and Aretha Franklin and The Temptations, 50's Rock & Roll, as well as any other music that caught her ear from her older brother's collection-like The Beatles and Credence Clearwater Revival. Plus, there was always AM country radio playing in her parents' home, and Patsy Cline was an early love. She discovered the Blues in high school when one friend turned her onto B.B. King, and another gave her a couple Bonnie Raitt albums…and like so many other young artists, she read all the liner notes on her album covers. She noticed people she'd never heard of had written her favorite tunes and she wanted more…folks like Sippie Wallace, Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker and Mississippi John Hurt & on & on.

She eventually discovered the Augusta Heritage Blues Week music camp in Elkins, WV in 1984, and met many folks who have inspired her personally & musically since that time including: Joan Fenton, Rich & Maureen DelGrosso, John Jackson, John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, and especially, Howard Armstrong, a major influence on her mandolin & fiddle style. Back home, she sought out local Blues hero, Yank Rachell, who became a mentor on blues mandolin, as well as a friend. She began playing on a more professional level & worked with Indy songwriter Frank Dean, weaving his original tunes with classic country & blues in Faye & The Rayes and Blue DeVille, as well as performing as a duo with her ex-husband Jack McIntosh.

Andra Faye continues to draw from her diverse musical upbringing on her musical journey today. She has been a member of the Nationally and Internationally acclaimed, all female acoustic blues trio, Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, since 1992. Friends with Ann Rabson and Gaye Adegbalola since they met in 1987 as students at the Augusta Heritage Blues Week in Elkins, WV, she was surprised and delighted when first they asked her to sit in on the recording session of their third Alligator Records release, "Broad Casting". So surprised, in fact, she kept suggesting another fiddle player to Gaye-thinking she wasn't good enough! Gaye & Ann insisted they knew how well she played from all their jamming & good times together…and the rest is now Uppity history. She began touring with the group after the recording session, when their bassist decided to leave, although she did not play bass, only much smaller instruments: fiddle, mandolin & guitar. She bought one right away & enlisted a wonderful stand-up bass player from Indianapolis, Chris McMahon, to give her lessons when she wasn't on the road. She took to the instrument easily & had the bass on stage in about six months. Faye also took a leave from her job as a Registered Nurse at this time to pursue her musical opportunity with Saffire. It was a dream come true for her, as she'd never really thought she could make it as a full-time musician, and had worked full & part-time as a nurse, while doing music on the side. She has never yet had to return to nursing, though she keeps her license current, "just in case"!

With its mellifluous vocals and virtuosic accompaniment, "Laying Down My Blues" is a welcome addition to your blues library. -- Blues Music Magazine

Andra Faye is known for her strong vocals and her abilities as a multi-instrumentalist. She has been featured on the cover of Mandolin Magazine and was called "First Lady of The Blues Mandolin", and has been twice been nominated for Blues Music Awards as an instrumentalist. Her love for the blues took her on a journey away from Indiana when she joined a band called Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women; touring the world, and recording for Alligator Records. She toured for 17 years with Saffire until the band decided to retire at the end of 2009. Returning home in 2011 she formed a rootsy band called Andra Faye & The Rays, and began playing as a duo with Scott in 2012, to be able to play all the types music they both enjoy.

Since returning to Indianapolis, Andra Faye has been closely with fellow-Hoosier Scott Ballantine, honing their musical sensibilities and their repretoire. They released their first CD project in 2013, "Laying Down Our Blues", to great acclaim, and have begun work on their second recording, planning a release for 2014. They play & teach regularly in Indianapolis, and also tour & teach workshops across the country.

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