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Women Who Rock: Blues Singer Annie Mack

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Annie Mack may sing the blues but she has a heart as big as her voice.

But because of a tough upbringing, she kept her voice locked away most of her life.

Until now.

Now, she's singing at the top of her lungs.

Next up in our Women Who Rock series, meet Annie Mack.

Annie Mack: blues singer, gritty diva.

She has quite the story to tell.

She was born and raised in North Minneapolis.

"I really grew up in that heyday of community. Double Dutch, dance line, barbecues and just knowing who you're your neighbor was," Mack said.

But Mack and her sister were sharing a dark secret.

"My mother, she was a single mom with two girls in the inner city. And she was abusive," Mack said. "Growing up it was pretty intense. And at the height of that intensity is when my mother shot my sister when I was about 10-years-old. And everything changed."

Mack said that while it had been bad before, it got a bit worse for a while because she was completely alone.

"I was completely alone and wondering what do I now. But from that there was a great burden that was lifted off, too. I didn't have to deal with it anymore," Mack said.

Decades went by, and Mack kept her voice locked away.

But when her mother died in 2006, everything changed again.

"Something happens when you experience death firsthand," Mack said. "It really was a wake-up call that I'm not meant to just get by each day. We all have purpose. We all have a destiny. I really believe in that. For me, it was embracing that."

It was that death that opened something in her.

"I think I had to find my voice," Mack said. "I don't know how through something so traumatic and crazy that I was able to find my voice. And that's the beauty of God I think."

Now she's dominating the blues circuit, performing in competitions like the Road to Memphis and the International Blues Challenge.

And she's a married mother of two.

"I have these different dimensions and they make up who I am as a whole. I'm really thankful that I don't rely on simply the music to define who I am," Mack said.

For someone who's endured so much suffering, she's pardoned her mother and has come to a place of understanding.

"The music, in a strange way, was my way of staying connected to her. Acknowledging that we did have a relationship and that I did love her. And I wanted to do something for the both of us. And that was my road to forgiveness," Mack said,

Mack has only been singing professionally for two years.

Her debut album, "Baptized in Blues," is out now, and she has several shows coming up.

She will be singing the blues Sunday at Famous Dave's in Uptown, and on Feb. 17 she will be at T's Place Ethiopian.

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