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Deep House Tribute: On November 5th, in 1946, a Deep House Queen, singer and songwriter-Loleatta Holloway was born in the Land of House-Chicago, Illinois. The Soulful singer began her professional career singing in her mother’s group-Albertina Walker-The Caravans (Late 60s). She went secular in 1971, recording Rainbow ’71 with Floyd Smith on the production end (it was a Curtis Mayfield cover song by Gene Chandler in ’63). She signed a deal with Aware out of Atlanta. While under contract there, she recorded two LPs-Loleatta in 1973 and Cry to Me in 1975. Both LPs are dope. The 1975 Cry to Me has the funky and heartfelt-Casanova.
She made noise with her first single on Galaxy, and both of her Aware LPs. By 1976, the Norman Harris Machine had her signed to SalSoul and she really took off on the Deep House tip. She put out four LPs on the SalSoul imprint-Loleatta (1977-updated re-issue of the debut LP with the Deep House Classics Hit & Run-Dreamin' on it), Queen of the Night (1978), Loleatta Holloway (1979), Love Sensation (1980-title cut is another Deep House classic). After House lost its glamour to the mainstream in the early 90s (y’all already know every Hip Hop artist had a love song, reggae cut and house song), Loleatta continued to work overseas and on underground projects. When House saw a resurgence in popularity due to a lot of EDM (electronic dance music) using samples from it, she also got more work. She’s a unique voice, you know her when you hear her. She passed in 2011 in the Chi (age 64).
Now this next Deep House female vocalist was part of a group that produced two of my favorite House songs out of my all-time top 10: Big Fun & Good Life. Chicago native (Lakeshore-Glencoe area) Shanna Jackson AKA Paris Grey-the lead for Inner City, was born in Glencoe on November 5th, 1965. Music critics largely label Inner City as a Techno band because a lot of their recordings came out of Detroit. However, if you are familiar with the street history of House Music, then you know Detroit wasn’t raping artists for their songs on deals like Chicago's Trax and Dance Mania imprints were.
Paris had very distinguishable voice, that was soulful, and smooth where Loleatta’s was gritty. They both sang in similar registers, and showed their ability to transcend beyond their comfortable tones, be it going higher or lower. I must’ve spun Big Fun about, 2000 plus times to date, Good Life about 1500 times or so…neither cut gets old. As with the Northern Soul movement, the Punk movement and the Funk movement that spawned Acid Jazz, the House movement was immediately embraced by the UK. It took us a bit to catch on in the states, and some of us still haven’t gotten it…catch up…
…‘Annnie Mae!’…On November 5th, in 1931, Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneering musician, Soul Music’s King of Rhythm, singer, bandleader, talent scout, producer, songwriter and arranger-Ike Turner (Izear Luster Turner Jr.) was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The son of a Baptist preacher, Ike watched his father beaten by a White mob and left for dead when he was very young. I’m sure this affected him profoundly all throughout his life. His mother re-married an abusive and alcoholic man named Philip Reeves. They had a big fight, Ike knocked him out and fled to Memphis. Once things cooled down her returned and started getting deep into music via DJ John Frisella from Clarksdale’s radio station WROX.
Frisella would let Ike spin while he took breaks. He also let him run administrative assistant errands. It exposed him to music he may have otherwise not heard (Louis Jordan and Rockabilly). Around the same time, he started learning how to play Boogie Woogie piano from Pinetop Perkins, and he learned guitar by playing along to old Blues records. The point here-Ike had all of the ingredients that it took to make Rock ‘n’ Roll music-A Blues base, with Soul and Jazz elements, and a bit of Rockabilly (sped up Country for laymen’s terms) thrown in. Combine these ingredients, mix them together well, and out comes Rock ‘n’ Roll. He’s one of a few artists credited with making the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song-Rocket 88. Ike died in 2007 (76 years-old).
On November 5th, in 1956, NBC made history with Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Cole)-The Nat King Cole Show debuted on the national network, becoming the first variety show hosted by a Black man in America on a major TV network. He was a pop icon, having more than 100 recorded songs that charted. Interesting fact: Cole came from a well-off family and was a Master Mason (Freemasonry). His brothers Freddy, Ike and Eddie all had music careers as well. Nat learned piano from his mother who was the church organist. He dropped out of high school at 15 and pursued a career in music.
In 1956, his first show was set for 15 minutes, using the variety format (short skits, performances and comedy). A year later in 1957, the show would be extended to 30 minutes, but they were unable to secure a national sponsor (racism). Cole got donations from several stars to try to keep the show going: Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, however it went off the air in December of 1957. When asked in an interview why he thought the show had failed, Cole responded: Madison Avenue is afraid of the Dark. Cole is the father of Natalie Cole, who also went on to have a successful music career.
On November 5th, in 1956, the same day that the Jazz piano giant Nat King Cole was making history on NBC, America lost another Jazz piano giant-Art Tatum. Tatum was less polished than Cole, and stuck to Jazz a little firmer than the pop tunes that Cole Jazzified. Tatum was completely blind in his left eye and had very limited vision in his right. He started learning piano in the church and his limited sight coerced him to use his mind and ears more. As a result, he developed a strong memory and perfect pitch. His father was from the Carolina’s and his mother was from Virginia. They moved to Ohio for Tatum to attend the School for the Blind. He later transferred to the School of Music, and was encouraged to stay away from playing Jazz.
Tatum ignored the suggestions and preferred to play Stride Piano (Fats Waller, Earl Hines, James P Johnson). Tatum first started his professional career in 1927, playing on Toledo’s WSPD radio station as Arthur Tatum-the Blind Pianist. Due to the positive reaction to his playing style, the show became a nationwide broadcast in 1928 and 1929. Tatum made live appearances during this time as well. In 1932, he was featured on his first recording with the singer Adelaide Hall (Strange as it Seems b/w I’ll Never be the Same). He moved to New York and started recording for Decca, Brunswick and Verve. Tatum is one of the great innovators of Jazz and piano playing. He was 47 years-old when he passed.
Honorable Mention: On November 5th, in 1901, the beautiful and infamous actress that played ‘Bess’ in Porgy & Bess-Etta Moten Barnett was born in Weimar, Texas. Moten attended an HBCU-Western University in Quindaro, Kansas. She graduated from the University of Kansas and was an Alpha Kappa Alpha. She got her start in plays in New York and moved to the silver screen. She was also a Pan-Africanist, acting as a US Cultural Representative in Africa. She was 102 years-old when she passed in 2004.
On November 5th, in 1968, Congress elected its first Black Woman Congress-person: Shirley (Anita) Chisholm. She won the US House of Representatives New York 12th Congressional District seat. Chisholm’s campaign slogan was: Unbought and Unbossed. She proved that true, by representing nicely for the Brooklyn area. Chisholm was very active in US politics, working in the State Legislature, Congress, Dept of Agriculture, and even running for President in the early 70s. She’s a trailblazer.
On November 5th, in 1971, Radiohead’s keyboardist, guitarist, arranger, composer and songwriter-Jonny Greenwood (Johnathan Richard Guy Greenwood) was born in Oxford, England. Greenwood is known for his keys and guitar playing, but his string arrangements in the band’s songs are an area he gets little credit for. The film industry took notice of his composing and arranging skills, hiring him to score a few movies (There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread, Body song, Junun). He’s 47 today.
The infamous doo wop group-The Coasters, lost two members on the same day, several years apart. First, On November 5th, in 1986, they lost their bass vocalist to complications of the heart-Bobby Nunn (Ulysses B. Bobby Nunn Sr.). He also sang with the Robins, passing in LA, California. He was 61 years-old. Sixteen years later, on November 5th, in 2002, the group lost its lead singer-Billy Guy. The Coasters are most known for their hits during the late 50s and early 60s, as pre-cursors to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Charlie Brown, Yakety Yak, Poison Ivy, Young Blood. He was 66 when he died.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on the Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A Plethora of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE!