Bettie Mae Fikes, a.k.a ‘the voice of Selma’, is a celebrated icon of the 1960’s civil rights movement who has since sustained her public activity by frequently performing as a core member of the SNCC Freedom Singers and has graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival and the Library of Congress. She is a recipient of the Long Walk to Freedom Award, and has recently been inducted into the Smithsonian Institute’s ‘Museum of Tolerance’ in an exhibition honoring women of the Civil Rights Movement.
Bettie Mae Fikes began singing gospel with her mother at age 4 then, as a founding member of the Freedom Singers, began traveling with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Freedom Rights struggle. This is how she came to be known as the “Voice” of Selma. She has performed with the likes of Joe Turner, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Albert King and Bob Dillon, just to name a few.
Bettie is also a dynamic lecturer, having delivered moving speeches about diversity and civil rights at universities throughout the United States and Canada. She remains one of only a few living divas who can legitimately lay claim to the title, ‘The Queen of the Blues’ and back it up with both a genuine gift for soul music and relevant historical significance. Her message is universal, timely and timelessly trans-generational.
Bettie Mae Fikes is a powerful, beautiful woman. She holds Blues audiences in the palm of her well-manicured hand when she takes to the stage and begins to tell each person in that rapt crowd a story. Yes, she’s a storyteller. A musical genius of a storyteller. She’ll weave you into her story with her impromptu lyrics; caress you with that throaty, rich, velvety voice…until you believe you are the only one in the room. Small in stature, she seems ten feet tall when she’s in the spotlight gazing down at you. Her voice can vibrate a room until the walls beg for mercy.