They call her the "comeback kid." Houston-area vocalist Annika Chambers made a major splash at the Blues Foundation's 38th Annual Blues Music Awards, held May 11 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Chambers' breathtaking, unforgettable performances of the funk-fueled "Six Nights and a Day" (popularized by soul singer Candi Staton in 1974) and the slow shuffle "Love God" (a late-career highlight of the legendary Al Green) brought down the house at the BMAs. One friend told Chambers afterward, "You stole the show!" Another said, "It was the highlight of the week!"
Watch Annika's BMA performance at
That's not all: Annika (pronounced "ah-NEE-kah") reports that several of the blues industry's biggest movers and shakers complimented her on her performance, too. "It was the best ten minutes of my life. There was a lot of preparation, but it was totally worth it. It was a real rush," Chambers said of her time in the BMA spotlight, which found her backed by a full slate of blues royalty including guitarists Kid Andersen and Jonn Del Toro Richardson, drummer Tony Braunagel, bassist Lisa Mann, keyboardist Jim Pugh, and Hammond organ player Mike Finnegan, among others.
Annika was nominated for the 2017 BMA for Best Traditional Female Artist (the Koko Taylor Award), and felt fortunate to be among those selected for the category. "It was a huge honor," she said. "To see that my fans put me in there with these other great women was just amazing." (Chambers notes that she was one of three artists in the category who call Houston home; fellow Traditional Female Artist nominees Diunna Greenleaf and Trudy Lynn also call Space City their home.)
With all the activity Chambers has been part of recently, it should come as no surprise that the powerhouse vocalist is planning her next album, tentatively scheduled for release in January 2018. The as-yet-untitled album is her third overall, following 2014's "Making My Mark," which received a coveted BMA nomination for Best New Artist Debut, and last year's "Wild & Free," which one reviewer called "modern soul-blues at its finest."
The upcoming project will, for the first time, find Chambers in full-on songwriter mode. "On the first two albums, I had a lot of people write for me," she said. "This time I really want to put myself out there, because now I realize I have my own story that needs to be told." That story is the reason she earned that "comeback kid" moniker: in the autumn of 2015 -- barely a month after completing the work for her second album -- Chambers began a six-month prison sentence. It was while incarcerated that she found her writing voice, and she's been composing ever since.
"To get a BMA nomination post-prison was unbelievable," Chambers said. "To still have my fans who love me and are still rockin' with me, that feels incredible. So it's time for people to hear my story." That's probably why the tunes she's written thus far are so personal. "They're coming straight from my heart," she said. "You can really feel my soul in them."
The past two years may have been a whirlwind for Annika, but she certainly has no plans to slow down. She's about to embark on a European tour that will take her to Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Poland and Spain. It's her first time visiting the continent as a civilian -- Chambers was previously stationed in Europe during her time in the United States Army. "This will be my first time as a singer," she explains.
Annika Chambers is currently accepting bookings for early 2018 to coincide with her new album's release. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at her website.