Ellis became a permanent transplant to Maryland and was able to make a primary livelihood of music
(with a few other gigs thrown in), a not inconsiderable feat. By this time she had begun to concentrate
on blues and was meeting some of the musical elders who were to become her role models and,
ultimately, her friends. On her way to a festival during the early 1980’s, Ellis chauffeured the incomparable
Flora Molton, a street singer/guitarist immersed in gospel with attitude who had been a
fixture on the D.C. scene for decades. Molton asked Ellis to become her accompanist, and Ellis threw
herself into the job with the same zeal and thoroughness that characterizes all of her endeavors.
She began to back Molton on guitar, as well as continuing to play her own sets. In 1987 they were
joined by the legendary Piedmont Blues musician Archie Edwards for an extensive tour of Europe.

In the mid-80’s, Ellis took up video production. This fascination, which she attacked with the conviction
that typifies all her work, led her down yet another road. Ellis wanted to create for a wider audience the
gritty, exuberant ambiance of an authentic blues houseparty. That became the impetus for the widely
acclaimed documentary she edited and produced, Blues Houseparty, which was released in 1989
to rave reviews and featured Piedmont blues artists including John Jackson, Archie Edwards,
John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, Flora Molton and John Dee Holeman.            next page