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She’s played for the Queen and channels Jimi Hendrix. Blues guitarist Malina Moye is coming to Allentown

Malina Moye, , left, seen here with Eric Gales and Tony Franklin, at the Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour concert in March 2014, plays two shows in Allentown this month.(BRIAN HINELINE / SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL)
Malina Moye, , left, seen here with Eric Gales and Tony Franklin, at the Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour concert in March 2014, plays two shows in Allentown this month.(BRIAN HINELINE / SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL)
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For guitarist Malina Moye, who’s left-handed, upside-down guitar wizardry instantly conjures up images of Jimi Hendrix, it’s always been about the blues.

Drawing inspiration from her own personal experience and with a genre-defying mixture of tone and style, Moye’s albums have felt right at home on the Billboard Blues Charts. Her 2018 release, “Bad As I Wanna Be,” even reached No. 1 for two consecutive weeks.

In addition to being an in-demand performer on her own, Moye is often asked to take part in other musical endeavors, like the Experience Hendrix Tour where she performed alongside
other guitar greats like Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. She’s the first African-American woman to perform the national anthem for a major sporting event and was even invited to perform “God Save the Queen” to honor the Queen of England’s 60-year reign.

This summer, Moye will be performing two back-to-back shows in Allentown. The first, on Friday, June 21 at the Civic Theater in Allentown, is part of a benefit for Rush Arts Philanthropic Foundation. The following day, June 22, Moye will be taking part in Allentown’s 16th annual Blues, Brews & Barbecue festival.

I recently spoke with Malina Moye about her upcoming Allentown appearances in this new interview.

LOS ANGELES, CA - Jan. 26, 2014 Malina Moye arrives for the 56th Annual GRAMMY(R) Awards at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times) ORG XMIT: 1731689
Malina Moye arrives for the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards in Los Angeles in 2014. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Q. What can fans expect from your Allentown performances?

Malina Moye: I always hope to bring excitement and fun. We do a high energy show and it’s always about keeping it fresh and making it cool. I’m excited to meet new people, saying hello to old friends and fans and just having a great time.

Your Friday show at the Civic Theater benefits the Rush Arts Philanthropic Foundation. How important is it for you to be a part of this benefit?

For me, being part of a benefit, especially one dealing with the arts, is very important. I think that when you get to a certain place part of your job is to give back. The reason I’m where I am right now is because someone poured into me. So, if I can be part of something that can make someone or something better then please include me and thank you.

In your opinion, what makes blues such a great form of music?

What I love about blues is that it’s the foundation of all music. Without blues you couldn’t have R&B, you couldn’t have soul and you couldn’t have rock. It’s all about taking the notes and telling the story that you wish to tell. What’s important is your truth and getting it out there and seeing who responds. The blues has always been the cornerstone of the truth.

You’ve cited both Jimi Hendrix and Prince as being huge influences on you. What was it about their artistry that appealed to you?

When you start thinking about Jimi and Prince, they represent freedom. Freedom in playing, freedom in how they look and freedom in how they want us to perceive ourselves. What’s cool about their music is that you can never say this is rock, this is pop, or this is punk, because they encompass everything. They’re the difference between just being a player and
someone who has a relationship with you. Everything about them is about artistry.

You’ve performed the national anthem in front of huge crowds at major sporting events. What were those experiences like?

I’ll be honest, the first time was terrifying [laughs]. It’s amazing because everyone is always suggesting I should play it a certain way but I always tell them, ‘Yeah, you all say that now, until you’re the one standing in front of 80,000 people for a song where everybody knows the words and you have to deliver’ [laughs].

Your most recent album is “Dirty.” What can you tell me about it?

It’s a continuation of my style. I love to mix punk, rock and soul. For me it’s always about the songs and with this record it’s about taking the high road. It was basically me looking at different stages of going from hate to healing and moving on.

Are there any new projects you’re currently working on?

There are some interesting things coming through the pipeline. A few years ago, I acted in a film called “The Samuel Project.” There’s a new acting project coming that’s going to be in the theatrical space that I’m super excited about. Music wise, I’m always playing and writing and getting ready for the next record. We’ll also be heading back to Europe in the fall.

Of all the highlights of your career, what stands out as most memorable?

There have been so many good moments and each one has a different weight. I remember the first time I performed for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for Chuck Berry and seeing all the incredible artists and getting the chance to meet Chuck Berry. He created the landscape of rock and roll. Then there was the time I had a chance to honor the queen of England. I remember practicing ‘God Save the Queen’ over and over in my living room and then suddenly I look up and find myself standing on the roof of a castle after they just did a royal flyover. There are so many great moments. God is good.

James Wood is a freelance writer. You can contact him at jimmywood@gmail.com

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