Rock-soul-jazz singer Lydia Pense, who has been compared to Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, will perform in Tauranga as part of her first New Zealand tour.

Pense has been likened to Joplin many times and the two dominated the stage in the late 1960s. Joplin admired the young Pense and recommended her and her band, Cold Blood, to legendary concert promoter Bill Graham.

Graham also was impressed with her voice and the band's sound and signed them both to his new record label, Fillmore Records.

With this backing and a captive San Francisco audience, Pense and Cold Blood forged their own special brand funk soul and rhythm and blues which came to be known as East Bay Grease. That music still holds up nearly 50 year later.

New Zealand jazz icon Rodger Fox met Lydia at San Francisco last year and engaged her to make her first New Zealand tour in May and June this year. Her seven venue tour includes Tauranga, Auckland, Upper Hutt, Palmerston North, Napier, Dunedin and Wellington.

"Lydia is a rock-soul-jazz singer whose distinctive style has been compared to Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Teena Marie," Fox said.

Pense's own albums, Cold Blood, Sisyphus, First Taste Of Sin, Transfusion and Vintage Blood Live have all enhanced her own dynamic reputation.

Pense is one of two top American artists who'll headline the seven venue tour. The other is blues, jazz and rock guitarist and vocalist Robben Ford, who has been named as one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century".

Robben has made hundreds of concert appearances and recorded with Miles Davis, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Barbra Streisand, Charlie Musselwhite, KISS and Jimmy Witherspoon.

His own latest album Into The Sun debuted at number two on The Blues Charts.

Pense and Ford, together with the Rodger Fox Big Band, perform at Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga on May 31.