Mickey Champion is a blues singer who is living her life to the right of 70. Oddly enough, this nearly legendary senior citizen still has as much energy and stamina now as she did in her early days when she filled in on vocal duty for Little Esther Phillips. “Champion Blues,” a documentary on the siren, has to be as lively as its subject, however, in order to be successful. It isn’t, but it does provide an interesting look at a lady who just won’t quit.
Monetary reward has never found Champion, not that she minds. She is rich in other ways, and that’s what really counts. Director Aletha Rodgers really brings out this fact in interviews with other musicians and singers such as Max Bangwell, Lady GG (whom I doubt is a relation to the musical terrorist GG Allin) and others who are nearly universal in their praise for the women who inspired Tina Turner without having all the baggage associated with that star. And while this documentary doesn’t quite capture her magic, it does provide plenty of footage of Champion doing what she does best: singing her heart out while working the crowd. To truly understand this lady, who sings the blues like she invented it, one would really have to see her in person singing with a live band behind her. That’s where the fireworks happen. This film is an introduction and not much else … but what an introduction it is.