The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 15, 2013

Opening for Robert Cray further expands Rochester performer's blues cachet

Opening for Robert Cray further expands Rochester performer's blues cachet

In a 2010 interview with Rochester Women Magazine, blues songstress Sena Ehrhardt was asked how she would know when she’d finally made the big time.

Her response: When I play with Robert Cray.

If that’s true, then it appears the Rochester native and recent addition to the acclaimed stable of blues musicians at Blind Pig Records will make the big time this weekend in Mankato.

"I've always considered Robert Cray to be such a leader in contemporary blues music," said Ehrhardt, who opens for the Grammy-winning performer at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Verizon Wireless Center’s SoundStage. "I remember listening to a vinyl copy of (Cray's seminal 1983 album) 'Bad Influence' as a young girl. ... I’m really super honored to have this opportunity."

If recent accolades are any indication, however, perhaps the honor is Cray's.

In 2011, Ehrhardt was an aspiring blues singer backed by a band led by her father, Ed Ehrhardt. During a gig in Minneapolis on the night before competing in the Minnesota qualifier for the International Blues Competition, Sena was told that the president of Blind Pig Records was in the crowd. During the band's first break, she was offered a record deal with the same label that represents such blues heavyweights as Luther Allison, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush.

Though the signing forced Sena to forfeit her opportunity to compete in the IBC in Memphis, it wasn't long before she found her back to the blues capital of the world.

With 2012's "Leave the Light On," Sena earned a nomination for best debut album from the Blues Music Awards and won the same category in the Blues Blast Music Awards. Her 2013 follow-up, "All In," earned her nominations for the Blues Blast rising star award and song of the year.

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