If it takes one talented songbird to immediately spot a fledgling one, then it was only right famed Memphis singer, Joyce Cobb, would be among the first to appreciate the artistry of DiAnne Price.
"She was the kind of person that whenever that door was open to hear her and could feel her soul, she gave it to you so much," remembers Cobb. "For some reason I thought DiAnne would always be here."
But Price's sultry and smoky voice is now silent. The well-known and admired Memphis nightclub entertainer suddenly died Wednesday, less than two months after suffering a stroke. Ms. Price was believed to be in her early 60s. Dr. Douglas Barkley who first met Ms. Price when he heard her singing in a club developed a 20 year friendship with her. He says he was always amazed at her crowd-pleasing versatility as a performer.
"She was so intelligent, so intelligent. She didn't read music to play. She could just play. She'd say I don't know that song. I know the song. She'd just play it," recalls Barkley.
Whether it was the blues or jazz or R&B, Price easily weaved her way through from genre to genre either as a solo act or with the musicians who sometimes made up her "DiAnne Price and Her Boyfriends" act.
Her appearances at Mollie Fountaine Lounge gave her the opportunity to create a musical intimacy with her audience while exhibiting her gift for "storytelling" in song.
"She drew people like a moth to the flame. Her charisma, her talent, her love for the piano. Solo or with her "boyfriends" she was always on. Always on to love you with her music," says Cobb.
In 2009 Price, along with her friend Cobb, were among those honored as Musical Emissaries by the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission.
"I have managed to play music every week somewhere for 42 years," Price said in a 2009 interview. "Yes, I think I'm successful."
"If everybody could live the way she lived," Barkley said. "With no prejudice at all - color, race, preferences - the world would be a better place."