Southern-born Norman Sylvester came to Portland with his family in 1957 as a young man. His earliest musical influence came from hearing his Dad sing in a gospel quartet and hearing the blues from the juke boxes in Bonita, Louisiana. Norman learned to play from his high school friend, Isaac Scott, who later was dubbed “King of Seattle Blues.” Norman played in Soul bands in the ‘60s and ‘70s, while working in the trucking industry to support his growing family. He attended a Buddy Guy concert, talked his way on stage for a song and after Buddy encouraged him to devote himself to a career in music, he was hooked!
He continued as a Teamster in the ‘80s for the paychecks, but for his passion formed the Norman Sylvester band with his bass player (still) Rob Shoemaker. After they played the Rose City Blues Fest (the unofficial first Waterfront Blues Festival) in 1987, BB King invited them to open twice and since then have opened for numerous other blues greats. The Norman Sylvester band is a vital part of the foundation of Northwest Blues. They are healthcare advocates, and work in local schools teaching blues history and mentor future artists.ing
Norman has been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, awarded Cascade Blues Association’s Life Time Achievement Award and the Norman Sylvester band was named Hall of Fame best R&B band for their multiple honors.