By Roy Kasten
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Any comprehensive list of the St. Louis area's all-time great soul singers ought to include Bonnie Bramlett. Born Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell, the 59-year-old vocalist grew up across the river in Alton and cut her musical teeth singing jazz and blues in Gaslight Square clubs and performing as the first white Ikette in the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1967, Bonnie married and began a musical collaboration with Delaney Bramlett that produced a half-dozen albums of rootsy rock tinged with soul, gospel and country influences. Delaney and Bonnie never quite became household names, but they enjoyed considerable musical influence and hip cachet thanks to their distinctive vocal blend, loose-yet-tight grooves and association with stars such as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Joe Cocker and Leon Russell.
After the couple's divorce, Bramlett made a handful of solo records that earned mostly good reviews and middling sales, and she went on to become one of the most sought-after background vocalists of the '70s and early '80s, appearing on albums and tours with many greats from the era.
As the '80s waned, Bramlett shifted from music to acting, performing in plays, taking small film parts and spending a couple of seasons as a regular on the TV series Roseanne.She moved to Nashville in 1999 and began recording and performing music again. If her 2002 CD I'm Still The Sameis any indication, both her vocal chops and songwriting skills seem to have survived her life's journey quite nicely. After all these years, it's good to have her back, on record, onstage and -- for one night, at least -- here in her old hometown.