Crystal “Redd Velvet” Tucker grew up in Monroeville, Alabama singing in her grandfather’s church. Early experience singing gospel gave her a powerful, earthy voice. A local choral teacher discovered her at age 12 singing in the school chorus and encouraged her to pursue classical training. At 18 Redd began intense vocal coaching under the tutelage of Mildred Allen, a principal artist with The New York Metropolitan Opera and baritone Andrew Gainey, who encouraged her to pursue a career in classical music.
During a visit to “Memphis in May” in 2009, Redd met songwriter Earl Randall and Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell. Mitchell and Randall heard a demo of Redd’s cover of O.V Wright’s “Searching” which had been penned by Randle. On their advice, she relocated to Memphis, Tennessee and launched her career. Upon her arrival in Memphis, she founded Big Daddy’s Baddass Band as her backing band and garnered the attention of the local blues community as the first African American woman to lead a band in the Memphis Blues Challenge. She advanced to the finals of the 2010 competition and again made local blues history as the first African-American woman to lead a band to place in the band category.
Although Redd is most noted for her unconventional entry into the music industry, she has also been recognized for her work as both a registered nurse and social activist for causes such as domestic violence, women’s rights, and child/sexual abuse. In 2010, Redd Velvet founded Music Heals Memphis, Incorporated, a non profit organization focused on providing health and social services for musicians, promoting racial harmony and the preservation of blues and soul music. The Commercial Appeal proclaimed her the “Blues Angel” for her work as a nurse and advocate.