FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Pianist and vocalist Ann Rabson, co-founder of the trio Saffire--The Uppity Blues Women, died Wednesday in Virginia after a battle with cancer, her label announced. She was 67.
A barrelhouse blues pianist, Rabson was also a songwriter and guitarist. She recorded eight albums with Saffire and one solo CD for Alligator Records. She made three solo albums for other labels.
Rabson was best known for her work with Saffire, which she formed with one of her guitar students, Gaye Adegbalola. Andra Faye McIntosh completed the trio, which had a loyal following. Saffire disbanded in 2009 after 25 years of performing.
Rabson didn't start playing piano until she was 35 but, DownBeat magazine said, she played "bluesy, honky-tonk piano with staggering authority."
A native New Yorker who grew up in Ohio, she moved to Fredericksburg in 1971 where she gave music lessons on the side.
"Blues speaks to me directly," she said. "It wasn't a choice. I was drawn to it naturally, sort of like a sheepdog with sheep."
Rabson's most recent was "Not Alone," recorded in 2012 for VizzTone Records.
Rabson is survived by her husband, George Newman, her daughter and a granddaughter. -- AP