Today I am taking a break from hard core posting, just to highlight some grown folks music and artists. Warning, if you were born after 1980, please go back to your synthesizers, lip syncing and fake ass bump and grind that hides your talent. This is grown folk music.
Singer/guitarist Barbara Lynn was a rare commodity during her heyday. Not only was she a female instrumentalist (one of the very first to hit the charts), but she also played left-handed — quite well at that — and even wrote some of her own material. Lynn’s music often straddled the line between blues and Southern R&B, and since much of her early work — including the number one R&B hit “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” — was recorded in New Orleans, it bore the sonic imprint of the Crescent City. Lynn was born Barbara Lynn Ozen in Beaumont, TX, on January 16, 1942; she played the piano as a child before switching to guitar, inspired by Elvis Presley. In junior high, Lynn formed her own band, Bobbie Lynn and the Idols; at this point, her musical role models veered between bluesmen (Guitar Slim, Jimmy Reed) and female pop singers (Brenda Lee, Connie Francis). After winning a few talent shows and playing some teen dances, the still-underage Lynn started working the local clubs and juke joints, risking getting kicked out of school if she had been discovered. Singer Joe Barry caught her live act and recommended her to his friend, producer/impresario Huey P. Meaux, aka the Crazy Cajun.
With her parents’ consent, Meaux brought Lynn to New Orleans to record at the legendary Cosimo’s studio. Lynn cut a few singles for the Jamie label with the understanding that if none hit, she was to attend college instead of pursuing music right off the bat. In 1962, her self-penned ballad “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” became a national hit, reaching the pop Top Ten and climbing all the way to number one on the R&B charts. Her first album (of the same name) was also released that year, featuring ten of her originals among its 12 tracks. Lynn continued to record for Jamie up through 1965, producing follow-up R&B hits like “You’re Gonna Need Me” and “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’),” the latter of which was recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1965. In 1966, Lynn switched over to Meaux’s Tribe label and cut “You Left the Water Running,” which became something of an R&B standard and was covered by the likes of Otis Redding. In 1967, she signed with Atlantic and had another R&B hit with “This Is the Thanks I Get” early the following year; she also issued another album, Here Is Barbara Lynn, in 1968. Lynn scored one last hit for Atlantic in 1972’s “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer,” but by this point, she had several children to worry about raising; dissatisfied with her promotion anyway, she wound up effectively retiring from the music business for most of the ’70s and ’80s, though she did play the occasional low-key tour.
Lynn returned to music in the mid-’80s, touring Japan for the first time in 1984; she later cut a live album there, called You Don’t Have to Go, which was eventually issued in the States by Ichiban. Lynn had managed to retain a cult following among connoisseurs of American soul and blues in several different pockets of the world, and toured internationally during the early ’90s. In 1994, Bullseye Blues issued her first full-fledged studio album in over two decades, So Good; Until Then I’ll Suffer followed in 1996. Lynn later caught on with the respected blues label Antone’s, and in 2000 she cut Hot Night Tonight, which featured a couple of raps by her son Bachelor Wise.
Pop-soul doesn’t get much better than Barbara Lewis, whose seductive, emotive croon took “Hello Stranger” to number three in 1963. The Michigan native had been writing songs since the age of nine, and began recording as a teenager with producer Ollie McLaughlin, who also had a hand in the careers of Del Shannon, the Capitols, and Deon Jackson. Lewis wrote all of the songs on her debut LP (including “Hello Stranger”) and confidently handled harmony soul numbers (some with backing by the Dells) and more pop-savvy tunes, some of which, like “Hello Stranger,” were driven by an organ and a bossa nova-like beat. Follow-ups to “Hello Stranger” didn’t sell nearly as well (although one of her singles, “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again,” was covered by the Searchers for a British Invasion hit). In the mid-’60s she began doing some recordings in New York City, with assistance from producers like Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler, that employed more orchestral arrangements and pop-conscious material. The approach clicked, both commercially and artistically: “Baby I’m Yours” and “Make Me Your Baby” were both big hits, and both among the best mid-’60s girl group-style productions. Lewis cut an album in the late ’60s for Stax (on the Enterprise subsidiary) that, as one would expect, gave her sound a grittier approach, without compromising the smooth and poppy elements integral to the singer’s appeal. It passed mostly unnoticed, though, and Lewis withdrew from the music business after a few other singles. The “beach music” scene of the Carolinas remains a bastion of appreciation for Lewis’ records, which continue to enjoy popularity and airplay there decades after their original release.
Betty Everett sang gospel growing up in Greenwood, MS, before relocating to Chicago and moving into secular music. She began recording for Cobra in 1958, then joined Vee-Jay in the early ’60s and started to land hit records. Her original version of “You’re No Good,” though sung with fire and verve, didn’t make much impact until it was turned into a number one pop hit by Linda Ronstadt in 1975. Her next single, “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss),” was her first major release, peaking at number six pop in 1964. Her next success was the duet “Let It Be Me” with Jerry Butler, a soul version of the Everly Brothers tune that reached number five R&B that same year. Everett’s finest song as a solo act was 1969’s “There’ll Come a Time,” which reached number two on the R&B charts and also cracked the pop Top 30 at number 26. Everett was now on Uni, where she remained until 1970. She continued recording for Fantasy until 1974 and made one other record for United Artists in 1978. A comeback performance for the 2000 PBS special Doo Wop 51 was her last public appearance; she died at her Wisconsin home in August 2001.