November 5, 2017 – Robert Knight, born Robert Peebles on April 24, 1945 grew up in Franklin Tennessee, just south of Nashville’s Music scene. Knight made his professional vocal debut with the Paramounts, a quintet consisting of school friends. Signed to Dot Records in 1960, they recorded “Free Me” in 1961, a US R&B hit single that was somewhat noteworthy as it outsold a rival version by Johnny Preston. Continue reading Robert Knight 11/2017
Allen Toussaint 11/2015
November 10, 2015 – Allen Toussaint was born January 14, 1938 in New Orleans.
Allen Toussaint has crossed many paths in his illustrious 40 years plus career in music. He has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac “Dr. John” Rebannac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The (original) Meters, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gale and the countless others.
Bobby Womack 6/2014
June 27, 2014 – Robert Dwayne Bobby Womack was born on March 4, 1944 into the songwriting and performing Womack family in Cleveland, Ohio’s Fairfax neighborhood.
Since the early 1960s, when he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and as Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist, Womack’s career spanned more than 60 years, during which he played in the styles of R&B, soul, rock and roll, doo-wop, gospel, and country.
Estelle Bennett 2/2009
February 11, 2009 – Estelle Bennet (The Ronettes), born in New York City on July 22, 1941, became along with her sister Ronnie Spector and cousin Nedra Talley the Rosettes. The Ronettes first began performing as the Darling Sisters and later worked as dancers at New York’s Peppermint Lounge, the epicentre of the 60s dance craze, the Twist. They first signed with Colpix, before being signed by Phil Spector.
Their recording of “Be My Baby” reached hit No. 2 on Billboard in 1963 and was followed by a string of hits including “Walkin’ in the Rain” and “Baby I Love You”. Their rendition of “Sleigh Ride” that appeared on Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You” album. Their last Philles single was “I Can Hear Music” in 1966. After the Ronettes break-up, she recorded a single for Laurie Records, “The Year 2000/The Naked Boy”. She then quit the music business and had rarely been seen since.
Lou Rawls 1/2006
January 6, 2006 – Louis Allen “Lou” Rawls was born on December 1st 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised by his grandmother in the Ida B. Wells projects on the city’s South Side and began singing in the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church choir at the age of seven. He later sang with local groups through which he met future music stars Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield. Even though it is sometimes falsely reported as though Lou was a high school classmate of Sam Cooke – Cooke was nearly three years older than Rawls, they sang together in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a ’50s gospel group.
After graduating from Chicago’s Dunbar Vocational High School, he sang briefly with Cooke in the Teenage Kings of Harmony, a local gospel group, and then with the Holy Wonders. In 1951, Rawls replaced Cooke in the Highway QC’s after Cooke departed to join The Soul Stirrers in Los Angeles. Rawls was soon recruited by the Chosen Gospel Singers and moved to Los Angeles, where he subsequently joined the Pilgrim Travelers.
Luther Vandross 7/2005
July 1, 2005 – Luther Vandross was born on April 20th 1951 in Manhattan, New York to Luther and Mary Ida Vandross. He was the youngest of the four Vandross children.
He attended Taft High School but cut short his formal education at the Western Michigan University to answer his musical calling. He was studying Engineering. After leaving college, Luther worked a series of odd jobs, including a Teacher’s aide at a Junior High School and a customer service rep at S&H Green Stamps.
As a teenager, he worked with the musical theatre workshop, Listen My Brother. The workshop was affiliated with Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.
It was at this workshop he met lifetime friends and colleagues Nat Adderly Jr (who later became his band director), Carlos Alomar, and Robin Clark. Listen My Brother” performed on the very first episode of Sesame Street aired in November 1969.
Lisa Lopes 4/2002
April 24, 2002 – Lisa Nicole Lopes, nicknamed Left Eye by her music pals was born on May 27, 1971 in Philadelphia. Her dad was from the Cape Verde Islands, a multi talented musician with a disciplinarian character. By age 10, she formed the musical trio The Lopes Kids with her siblings, with whom she sang gospel songs at local churches.
At the age of 19, having heard of an open casting call for a new girl group through her boyfriend at the time, Lopes moved to Atlanta to audition. TLC started as a female trio called 2nd Nature. The group was renamed TLC, derived from the first initials of its then three members: Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. Things did not work out with Crystal Jones, and TLC’s manager Perri “Pebbles” Reid brought in Rozonda Thomas as a third member of the group. To keep the “initial” theme of the band’s name, Rozonda needed a name starting with C, and so became Chilli, a name chosen by Lopes.
Lavern Baker 3/1997
March 10, 1997 – LaVern Baker was born Delores LaVern Baker on November 11, 1929 in Chicago. She began singing gospel as a child, but she was familiar with more secular styles, as well. Her aunt, Merline Baker, was better known as Memphis Minnie, a blues singer and guitarist. LaVern was blessed with a powerful voice, which she put to use as a teenager singing in nightclubs under the stage name Little Miss Sharecropper. She wore a straw hat and a dress made of patches.
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