A new profile on Celisse Henderson highlights just how far the accomplished musician has come since picking up the electric guitar nine years ago, from teaching herself to play using YouTube videos to backing up Joni Mitchell at this week’s Joni Jam reunion, playing with Mumford & Son at Jazz Fest, and rocking Saturday Night Live with Lizzo.

The CBS Mornings profile describes how Celisse group up in Oakland with a musical family and parents who were choir teachers. At 11, she was moved to pursue music after her mom bought her a Barbara Streisand album at a thrift shop: “There was just something in me that was like, ‘That. I wanna do that. I feel like I can do that.'”

She moved to NYC at 19 with nothing but “a suitcase, a guitar, a bible, and something like $276” and got her first break singing with the touring cast of the Broadway musical Wicked. After finding early success in the world of theater, she realized she hadn’t yet reached her peak and struck out in pursuit of more creative freedom: “I felt like I had more to say outside the confinement of someone else’s words.” she said. “I have a deep need to communicate something.”

She found that freedom on the guitar, inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. “When I first came across Hendrix, there is such an innate freedom in what he does, and it’s like an unbridled joy,” she said. Nine years after first taking up the instrument, she has harnessed and shared that joy with audiences across the country.

“I’m unapologetically me. … It feels really powerful to play and to look out into the audience. It’s a mixture of women who are like beyond excited at even the idea and very often a lot of men who are just stunned. It’s my favorite thing,” Celisse reflected. “This is my birth right, I’m standing on the shoulders of Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” she added before showing off her tattoo of the Godmother of Rock and Roll.

Celisse will perform with Joni Mitchell at this weekend’s Joni Jam, and is working on an album, according to the report. Watch the full Celisse CBS Mornings profile below.

The go-to guitarist: Celisse on teaching herself to play, feeling powerful on stage – CBS Mornings

[h/t CBS Mornings]