Chicago’s Willis Earl Beal is riding a wave of hype at the moment, having recently signed to XL Recordings imprint Hot Charity. Top blogs are calling Beal an “artist to watch” and the Internet is buzzing with speculation of his chances at making it big. Willis Earl Beal’s first brush with public attention came when the singer/poet/visual artist was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico and posting his hand-drawn fliers around town. One of those fliers, a quirky advertisement for friendship, was chosen as a cover image for Found Magazine’s January 2010 issue.
Beal relocated to Chicago in June of 2010 to live with his grandmother and look for work. He again began posting fliers, this time including a mailing address and phone number along with the offer to make drawings to post and sing songs over the telephone. A writer for the Chicago Reader snatched one of these fliers up and a lengthy feature on Beal was published in July of last year. Shortly thereafter, Beal was talked into performing live (reportedly for the first time in public) at an off-the-radar dive bar. More recently, Stateside was able to catch Willis Earl Beal in the flesh at his “Evening’s Kiss” 7” release party and discovered a real diamond in the rough. He took the stage solo, belting out songs over prerecorded backing tracks. Vocally, Beal channeled gospel singers, delta bluesmen and, most explicitly, Tom Waits. On 28 February, Beal will begin a two-week European tour with shows scheduled in London, Manchester, Leeds, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg and Brussels. His debut album, "Acousmatic Sorcery", is available through XL Recordings/Hot Charity. www.willisearlbeal.com