Linda Shell, often called Linda the 'undisputed Queen of Kansas City blues. She was born in Kansas City Missouri in 1953. She grew up on Wabash Street and attended Booker T Washington Elementary.
Linda got her start in music in much the way many of our favorites did, singing gospel in the youth choir at her local Baptist Church; however, Shell had a great instructional and experiential advantage in her music career. Her grandmother, great-aunts, and uncles were the nationally famous gospel group 'The Moreland Singers'. Her mother, Delores Graham, owned the Kansas City blues club at 39th and Jackson known as Blues Alley between 1975 and 1984.
In a true blues life filled with devastating tragedies, Shell and her husband were both robbed of some of their closest loved ones because of deadly car crashes. A further misfortune may have robbed her of national stardom early on. Linda Shell and the Blues Thang was formed in 1992, and they quickly garnered success as the opening act at clubs and festivals for Albert Collins throughout the summer of 1993. Albert Collins was trying to get Linda and her husband Kelsey signed to the PointBlank label when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with lung cancer, which metastasized quickly.” Blues legend Albert Collins died in November of that same year and all hopes of the national deal dissolved with that tragic loss.
Also in 1988 and 1989 Linda And Kelsey moved to Chicago. They were booked at venues such as B.L.U.E.S and Kingston Mines. The infamous Checkerboard Lounge was still in its original location. They hosted a weekly open jam at the Checkerboard for over a year and legends such as Junior Wells, James Cotton, Son Seals, Jimmy Johnson, Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith, Buddy Guy, and Phil Guy would drop by and jam.
In 1998 a local label called Red Hot Records released a CD called "Under the Influence", which is her only recording to date. Linda Shell was dubbed Queen of the Festival at the 2004 Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival. Since 1993, 'Linda Shell and the Blues Thang' have played Kansas City venues such as BB's Lawnside BBQ, the Grand Emporium, Nightmoves, Mother Tuckers, H&M BarBQ, Gracies, Crosstown Station, The Hide Out, Eddies Lounge and the Eclipse.
Currently, Linda Shell sings the blues with a pair of guitar greats, husband K.C. Kelsey and Bobby Carson, in the AKA Band, also known as 'Linda Shell and the Blues Thang', a group that originated as the sideband for Kansas City blues man Millage Gilbert.
(Linda Shell at 13th Annual Poconos Blues Festival 2004)