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Doris Fields

Lady D Lights Up the Stage
By Lee Chatman

Doris FieldsThe Mountain State plays host to many people who have the talent to perform on stage. There are those who take to the stage through music, and then there are those who perform through acting. Native West Virginian Doris Fields is one of those rare talents who approach the stage through both.

Fields, also known as Lady D, is one of West Virginia’s premier performers who has appeared in plays through The Kanawha Players and The Charleston Stage Company. One performance highlight was sharing the stage with West Virginia native Lou Myers in the play “Spunk.” “He was great to work with,” Fields said.

Fields’ love for acting led to writing and performing two plays based on the life of the 1920s era blues singer Bessie Smith, “Lady and the Empress” and “Bessie’s Blues.” “Bessie’s Blues” is a spin-off from the former and is performed solely by Fields in area schools for the kids.

Along with “Bessie’s Blues,” Fields holds a “Blues to Hip Hop” workshop to inform children about the origin of blues and jazz music and the contributions of both to modern music. “I want to make sure people realize that blues is the root of popular music of today,” Fields said.

“Tamarack is doing a lot for West Virginia artists by providing an outlet for exposure,” Fields said. Tamarack lends support to Fields’ efforts in promoting blues and jazz. “They’ve backed me and are sponsors of my live radio show, ‘Simply Jazz & Blues,’ on Groovy 94.1 FM. The first live radio show was in May of 2010. That show was headlined by Lou Myers and was a full house,” she said. The success of that show allowed Fields to do others and gave her the opportunity to work with West Virginia jazz artist Bob Thompson. “West Virginia is known more for country and bluegrass, but Tamarack helped me get more exposure for the jazz and blues musicians here in the Mountain State.”

Fields has moved to other parts of the country to live. “I moved away from West Virginia several times but I always seem to find my way back home,” Fields said. “It is the place I most enjoy and love to be.”

The Internet has become a driving force in Fields’ efforts to market and promote her music across the globe. “The Internet makes selling music so much easier and gives you the ability to reach audiences overseas in places like Europe and Japan,” Fields said. Internet social networking is also a useful tool for promoting and staying connected. “I’m totally hooked on Facebook. It seems as though everyone is on it and I am able to get more exposure through Facebook friends.”

Performing at the Obama for Change Inaugural Ball was Fields’ biggest life experience to date. “It was so surreal. There were more people than I had ever seen in one place at one time. There were thousands of people in attendance,” Fields said.

Fields’ hard work in bringing music awareness to the area is self-rewarding. “Giving local talent an outlet to perform means a lot to me; it gives everyone a chance to shine,” Fields said. “The people and the talent that we have is West Virginia’s best kept secret.”