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Terisa Griffin

Singer Terisa Griffin was born on August 25, 1969 in Monroe, Louisiana. She graduated Wossman High School in Monroe, Louisiana and attended Northeastern Louisiana University in Monroe, Louisiana on a music scholarship where she studied operatic singing.

Griffin relocated to Chicago, Illinois and sang backup for Diana Ross on a telecast of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She also toured with R&B legend Jerry Butler. Griffin worked for various Chicago advertising agencies recording jingles for commercials. In 1997, Griffin established her own independent music company, My Naked Soul Productions where she wrote, produced and starred in a series of one-woman shows including: One Voice, One Woman, Fantasy-A Tribute to the Divas of Song and Stage: Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, Queens of R & B- A Tribute to the Queens of Rhythm and Blues: Dinah Washington, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summers and Tina Turner, and Songs Divas – A Tribute to FamousSong.

In 1998, Griffin released her first album Songbird as an introduction of original and cover works showcasing her vocal skills. In 2002, she toured with Patti LaBelle and performed background vocals. That same year, Griffin produced and presented her one-woman show, One Woman. One Voice: A Musical Tribute to the Queens of Song. She also produced and presented Fantasy: The Divas of Song and Stage, a tribute to Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne. Griffin debuted her first full-length release, My Naked Soul showcasing her talents as a songwriter and producer. In 2007, Griffin established the nonprofit organization, Better Love Yourself, Inc. and served as its CEO and president. In 2011, Griffin provided the title song and appeared in the independent short film The Truth, directed by Hill Harper. She also released her sophomore double-disc, Soulzophrenic ‘Personalities of Soul' R&B and Dance releases. In 2012, Terisa Griffin auditioned for the NBC television reality series The Voice with a performance of Adele’s Someone Like You where she was selected as a contestant on NBC’s The Voice Season 3. In 2015, Griffin made Billboard Charts with her CD Revival of Soul which peaked at #33 on August 27, 2016. In 2016, Griffin and Better Love Yourself, Inc. celebrated ten years of service.

Terisa Griffin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 11, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.142

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/14/2018

Last Name

Griffin

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Terisa

Birth City, State, Country

Monroe

HM ID

GRI12

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Better Love Yourself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/25/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States of America

Favorite Food

Pork Chops, Rice, Gravy

Short Description

Singer Terisa Griffin (1969- ) has recorded numerous commercial jingles for popular brands and toured with music legends Jerry Butler and Patti LaBelle. She established My Naked Soul Productions, as owner and president in 1997.

Favorite Color

Pink

Vanessa Williams

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams was born on March 18, 1963 to Milton and Helen Williams in Tarrytown, New York. Williams graduated from Horace Greeley High School in Millwood, New York in 1981, and enrolled at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

In 1983, Williams won the Miss Greater Syracuse Pageant and Miss New York Pageant. Later that fall, she was crowned Miss America 1984, becoming the first African American contestant to win the pageant. A scandal involving Williams forced her to resign in July of 1984. Williams then pursued a career in music. In 1988, she released her first album, The Right Stuff, which featured the singles The Right Stuff, He's Got the Look and Dreamin'. The album’s popularity garnered Williams the NAACP Outstanding New Artist Award. Her multi-platinum second album, The Comfort Zone, was nominated for three Grammys in 1992, and her third album, The Sweetest Days, achieved platinum status in 1994. Williams earned another Grammy nomination for her popular rendition of Colors of the Wind, featured on the Pocahontas soundtrack. Williams went on to release five more studio albums: Star Bright (1996), Next (1997), Silver & Gold (2004), Everlasting Love (2005), and The Real Thing (2009), which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Charts.

Williams has also enjoyed a successful acting career. After making her acting debut on an episode of The Love Boat in 1984, Williams went on to appear in such films as Eraser (1996), Soul Food (1997), Light It Up (1999), Shaft (2000), opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Johnson Family Vacation (2004), Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009), and Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013). She also portrayed Suzanne de Passe in the Jackson 5 biopic The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992). Williams executive-produced and starred in Lifetime's The Courage to Love and VH1’s original movie A Diva's Christmas Carol, both released in 2000.

Williams earned three-Emmy nominations for her starring role as Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty from 2006 to 2010 and also starred on the last two seasons of Desperate Housewives on ABC, winning two NAACP Image Awards for her portrayal of Renee Perry. She also starred as Maxine Robinson on the television show Daytime Divas in 2017.

In addition to acting on film and in television, Williams starred on Broadway in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1994), Into the Woods (2002; Tony Award nominee as Best Actress in a Musical), Sondheim on Sondheim (2010) and The Trip to Bountiful (2003).

Williams, and her mother Helen Williams, co-authored the New York Times bestseller You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other), published in 2013. Williams returned to the Miss America Pageant in 2015 as the head judge and special performer – receiving an apology from the organization for the events that took place in 1984.

Williams has four adult children: Melanie, Jillian, Devin and Sasha.

Vanessa Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.076

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/30/2018

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

L.

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Vanessa

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

WIL83

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brazil

Favorite Quote

Go For It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/18/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Margherita Pizza

Short Description

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams (1963 - ) was crowned Miss America 1984 but had to step down. She went on to release eight studio albums, and appear in countless films and television shows and sustain a significant entertainment career.

Favorite Color

Green

Petrella Pollefeyt

Singer Petrella Pollefeyt was born on April 15, 1947 in Hot Springs, Arkansas to Herbert and Dorothy Bonner. She graduated from Goldstein Elementary School in 1959, and from Langston Junior/Senior High School in 1964. Pollefeyt received her B.S. degree in business administration from Philander Smith College in 1968.

In 1968, Pollefeyt went to work for the National Rejecters Industries as a timekeeper. In 1972, Pollefeyt became the first African American administrator for Governor of Arkansas Dale Bumpers. She later accepted a position with Alcoa Aluminum and in 1973, Pollefeyt moved to Detroit, Michigan and worked for Chrysler Defense. She was later married and moved St. Louis, Missouri and worked for the GAF Corporation in 1976. Pollefeyt worked in the GAF accounting department from 1976 to 1980 and then at Kimmenade as an office manager in accounting and administration from 1980 to 1984. She then joined JC Penney in accounts payable from 1984 to 1986 as well as working as an accounting administrative assistant for Ford Aerospaceand for Pyromet Industries in accounting and administration from 1989 to 1994.

Pollefeyt’s singing talent was discovered by noted indie Nashville pioneer record producer Jack Gale in 1988. She also became a songwriting member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 1992, and Pollefeyt released her debut album Countryversial in 1993. Her single I Found Somebody spent fourteen weeks on the national Top 100 Country Singles Chart and she was the first African American female in country music to be featured on the cover of Cashbox magazine. She was named New Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in Nashville Tracker Magazine in 1994. Pollefeyt served as partner for P2 Production and P. Phunk Music, from 1994 to 2007, while serving as president of the charitable organization, Dreams of the Heartland Foundation in 1996. She was also credited on the albums Papa Did A Raindance in 2001, and Find A Cure in 2002. She released Walk Around Heaven, Homes for the Holidays and Dreams of the Heartland albums on the Petrella record label in 2005, and became a registered agent and manager for Garden Mound LLC in 2007. Pollefeyt released her single, Working in The USA to country radio in 2013. Pollefeyt and Jack Gale celebrated the 25th Anniversary of her musical career with the release of the CD Shine on Me.

Pollefeyt twice received the Golden Microphone Award in 2002 and 2003, and Producer’s Choice Award in 2002 and 2004 from Airplay International King Eagle Awards.

Pollefeyt donated her personal papers, audio and video recordings, posters, costumes and memorabilia documenting her career as a country soul singer-songwriter to Archives of African American Music and Culture at Indiana University for Petrella Pollefeyt Collection. Pollefeyt also gifted an annual donation to her alma mater, Philander Smith College for the music students. She shared her legacy, donated historic land and family property to the Garland County Habitat for Humanity in Hot Springs.

Petrella Pollefeyt was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 2, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.059

Sex

Female

Interview Date

04/02/2018

Last Name

Pollefeyt

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Langston High School

Goldstein Elementary School

Lincoln University

Philander Smith College

First Name

Petrella

Birth City, State, Country

Hot Springs

HM ID

POL01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Favorite Quote

You might know where you been, but you don't know where you're goin...

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arkansas

Birth Date

4/15/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Little Rock

Favorite Food

Popcorn

Short Description

Singer Petrella Pollefeyt (1947- ) was discovered in 1988 by pioneer record producer Jack Gale, and released her debut album Countryversial in 1993. She was named New Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in Nashville Tracker Magazine in 1994.

Employment

Garden Mound LLC

P2 Production and P. Phunk Music

Pyromet Industries

Ford Aerospace

JC Penney's

Kimmenade

GAF

Favorite Color

Blue

Claudette Robinson

Singer and songwriter Claudette Robinson was born on September 1, 1942 in New Orleans, Louisiana and later moved with her family to Detroit, Michigan in 1950. She graduated from Commerce High School in Detroit at the age of fifteen and enrolled at Wayne State University, before joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

In her teen years, she sang in the female group The Matadorettes. While her brother, Sonny Rogers was away serving in the U.S. Army, Claudette met his friend and band mate Smokey Robinson of The Matadors. Robinson joined the group in her brothers’ absence, which was renamed The Miracles. She sang with Ronnie White, Pete Moore, Marv Tarplin, and Smokey Robinson, her husband. Together, the group created the first hit single for Motown Records, “Shop Around,” which sold millions of copies. The Miracles would later be known for a variety of songs, including “You've Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Mickey's Monkey,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Baby Baby Don't Cry,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” The song “The Tears of a Clown” was the group’s most popular single, selling over three million copies all over the world. Although Robinson left the group in 1964, she continued to singe back-up vocals for the group until 1972. That year, her husband, Smokey Robinson, left The Miracles to pursue his solo career. Robinson eventually rejoined The Miracles and performed with the group until 2013, when her cousin, Bobby Rogers, passed away.

After leaving The Miracles, Robinson became active in numerous community organizations, including the HAL Awards and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, which was dedicated to the preservation of R&B music. Robinson has been nationally recognized for her contributions to R&B music through her work with The Miracles. In 2009, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Robinson was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, along with the rest of the members of The Miracles. As the only woman in the first band signed to Motown Records, she is often referred to as the first lady of Motown by its founder, Berry Gordy.

Robinson has two children, Berry William Borope Robinson and Tamla Claudette Robinson.

Claudette Robinson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 22, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.119

Sex

Female

Interview Date

07/22/2017

Last Name

Robinson

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Claudette

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

ROB34

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any place around the world, I like traveling

Favorite Quote

Know your worth

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/20/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All kinds of food

Short Description

Singer and songwriter Claudette Robinson (1942 - ) was a singer with the Motown group The Miracles, often referred to as the first lady of Motown.

Favorite Color

Purple

Hank Dixon

Singer Hank Dixon was born on December 17, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan to Melvia Thomas Dixon and George Dixon, Sr. As children, Dixon and his ten siblings performed at the nightly services of the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit. Dixon began his education at Detroit’s George Washington Carver School. Following his enlistment in the U.S. Army in the late 1950s, Dixon completed his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri; and then he served as a bridge engineering specialist in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Dixon was discharged from the Army in 1965. Around this time, Dixon founded The Originals with baritone Walter Gaines, bass singer Freddie Gorman and lead tenor C.P. Spencer. The group first served as the male background vocalists for artists like Stevie Wonder and David Ruffin at the Motown Records studios in Detroit. In 1969, the group released their debut album, Green Grow the Lilacs, on Soul Records, a subsidiary label of Motown Records. The album featured the song Baby, I’m for Real written by Marvin Gaye. Once the track became a commercial success, the album was reissued under the title Baby, I’m for Real. Gaye also wrote The Originals’ next hit single, ‘The Bells,’ in 1970. The Originals went on to tour with The Temptations; and they performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City. In 1975, The Originals moved to Los Angeles, California, where they recorded the album Down to Love Town. They became a regular guest on the Art Laboe Connection radio program, and were also featured on the television show, Soul Train. The Originals left Motown Records in 1977; and recorded albums with Columbia Records and Motorcity Records. In 1980, Dixon became a bus driver for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, retiring in 2004. He and his daughter, Terrie Dixon, re-established The Originals in the mid-2000s; and they went on to tour with Defrantz Forrest and Dillon F. Gorman, the son of Freddie Gorman.

Dixon and his wife, Ella Dixon, have three children: Tammy Dixon, Terrie Dixon and Tony Dixon.

Hank Dixon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 20, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.120

Sex

Male

Interview Date

07/20/2017

Last Name

Dixon

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

George Washington Carver Elementary School

California State University, Los Angeles

First Name

Hank

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

DIX04

Favorite Season

All Year

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

God Bless The Child That's Got His Own.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/17/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bean Soup

Short Description

Singer Hank Dixon (1939 - ) was a member of the Motown R&B group The Originals. They signed with Motown Records in 1966.

Employment

U.S. Army

Metropolitan Transportation

Motown Records

Detroit Diesel Company

Fantasy Records

Phase II Records

Favorite Color

Lavender

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hank Dixon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon describes the sights of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon remembers singing with his family at the Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon remembers the George Washington Carver School in Ferndale, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon recalls his decision to enlist in the U.S. military

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon describes his home life

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Hank Dixon talks about his service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Hank Dixon recalls his work at the Detroit Diesel Corporation

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Hank Dixon remembers singing background vocals at Motown Records

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Hank Dixon talks about his wife and children

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Hank Dixon remembers recording his first single with The Originals

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Hank Dixon remembers performing with The Originals at cabarets in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon remembers The Originals' first album, 'Green Grow the Lilacs'

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon talks about The Originals' choreography

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon recalls working for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon remembers the decline of The Originals

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon remembers The Originals' transition to Fantasy Records

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon talks about the popularity The Originals' hit songs

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon talks about the new members of The Originals

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon describes his work as a church soloist

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon talks about his family

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon remembers moving to Palmdale, California

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Hank Dixon shares advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Hank Dixon remembers the deaths of his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Hank Dixon reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Hank Dixon reflects upon his life

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Hank Dixon describes his concerns about the music industry

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Hank Dixon talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - Hank Dixon remembers traveling with his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 18 - Hank Dixon talks about his career with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Tape: 2 Story: 19 - Hank Dixon describes his retirement

Tape: 2 Story: 20 - Hank Dixon shares a message to future generations

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon remembers touring with The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hank Dixon describes the Motown Records offices in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hank Dixon remembers performing on 'Soul Train'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hank Dixon describes the style of The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hank Dixon talks about The Originals' background vocal work

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hank Dixon reflects upon Motown Records' impact in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hank Dixon remembers Marvin Gaye's influence on The Originals

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hank Dixon talks about moving from Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Hank Dixon remembers the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Hank Dixon talks about the celebrity culture in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hank Dixon narrates his photographs

Lloyd Price

Singer Lloyd Price was born on March 9, 1933 in Kenner, Louisiana to Beatrice Nicholas and Louis Price. Price received formal musical training in the trumpet and piano at an early age, and sang in his church's gospel choir. The eighth of eleven children, Price and his younger brother Leo played in a band together as teenagers.

After high school, Price worked at Louis Armstrong International Airport. He was discovered by New Orleans big band musician Dave Bartholomew when he overheard Price playing piano in his mother’s shop. Bartholomew introduced him to Specialty Records executive Art Rupe, who helped Price record his first major blues hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” with Fats Domino and Bartholomew’s band a few weeks later. The single was released in 1952, spending seven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B chart, and becoming the R&B Record of the Year. However, Price’s success was short-lived as he was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Korean War. Upon his return, Price settled in Washington, D.C., where he formed KRC Records with songwriter Harold Logan, and recorded the single, “Just Because,” which was released by ABC-Paramount Records for national release. From 1957 to 1959, Price recorded a series of national hits with ABC-Paramount Records, including “Personality,” “I'm Gonna Get Married” and “Stagger Lee”, which topped the pop and R&B charts and sold over one million copies. In the early 1960s, Price opened a club in New York called The Turntable, and founded two new labels, Double L and Turntable, where he continued to produce records. After his business partner’s murder in 1969, Price moved to Nigeria. In 1974, he helped to promote Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle boxing match, and produced the Zaire 74 music festival in Kinshasa. Price toured Europe in 1993 with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary U.S. Bonds, and performed with soul legends Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, and Ben E. King on the "Four Kings of Rhythm and Blues" tour in 2005. Price released twenty-seven albums during his almost fifty year career.

A highly revered musician, Price received the Pioneer Award at the sixth annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation ceremonies in Los Angeles in 1994, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Price was also honored by his hometown of Kenner in 2001. He managed Icon Food Brands, which produced a line of primarily Southern-style foods, including “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” food products. Price was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010.

Lloyd Price was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2016 and February 14, 2017.

Accession Number

A2016.131

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/9/2016 |and| 2/14/2017

Last Name

Price

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Lloyd

Birth City, State, Country

Kenner

HM ID

PRI10

Favorite Season

Fall and Summer

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Singelia - Italian Alps

Favorite Quote

Where y'at?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/9/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Singer Lloyd Price (1933 - ) recorded the blues hit “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” at age nineteen and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Employment

Specialty Records

Dobbs House Restaurant

U.S. Army

Double L Records

JAD Records

Favorite Color

Gray and Black

Cissy Houston

Singer Cissy Houston was born Emily Drinkard on September 30, 1933 in Newark, New Jersey to Delia Mae McCaskill Drinkard and Nicholas Drinkard. With her father’s encouragement, Houston formed the gospel singing group The Drinkard Four with her sister, Anne, and her brothers, Larry and Nicky. The group performed regularly at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. When Marie Epps, Ann Moss, and Houston’s sister, Lee Drinkard, joined them, the group was renamed The Drinkard Singers.

In 1957, Houston performed with The Drinkard Singers at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. Two years later, their live album A Joyful Noise was released on RCA Records, making it the first gospel record to appear on a major label. In 1963, Houston cut her first solo record This Is My Vow on M&M Records under the name Cecily Blair. That same year, she formed The Sweet Inspirations with Doris Troy and nieces Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick. Houston released several solo singles until 1967, when The Sweet Inspirations, then composed of Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown, and Myrna Smith, released their self-titled debut album on Atlantic Records. They also sang backup for Aretha Franklin and Van Morrison. In the coming years, the group recorded Songs of Faith & Inspiration (1968), What the World Needs Now is Love (1968), Sweets for My Sweet (1969) and Sweet Sweet Soul (1970), as well as accompanied Yusef Lateef, Jimi Hendrix, George Benson, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, Brook Benton, Dee Dee Warwick and Carmen McRae. After working with Elvis Presley in 1970, Houston decided to leave the group to spend time with her three children and focus on her solo career. That year, she released her debut solo LP, Presenting Cissy Houston on Janus Records. Houston remained with Janus Records until 1975, when she left to work with jazz flutist Herbie Mann. Houston then appeared in The Wiz (1978) and recorded Cissy Houston (1977), Think It Over (1978), and Step Aside for a Lady (1980).

There were several successful singers in Houston’s family, including daughter Whitney Houston, nieces Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, and renowned soprano Leontyne Price, who was a cousin of the Drinkard family. Houston was appointed the founding president and CEO of the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children in 1988. Houston received two honorary doctorates, as well as the Medal for Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. In 1997 and 1998, Houston won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album for Face to Face (1996) and He Leadeth Me (1997).

Cissy Houston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.123

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/15/2016

Last Name

Houston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Louise A. Spencer Elementary School

Malcolm X Shabazz High School

First Name

Cissy

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

HOU04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Are You Sure You Want My Answers?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

9/30/1933

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Newark

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Singer Cissy Houston (1933 – ), mother of singer Whitney Houston, released the first gospel album on a major label, A Joyful Noise (1959), as a member of The Drinkard Singers along with her siblings. Houston won Grammy Awards for Face to Face (1996) and He Leadeth Me (1997).

Employment

The Drinkard Sisters

Sweet Inspirations

Private Stock Records

New Hope Baptist Church

Favorite Color

Purple

Joshie Jo Armstead

Singer and songwriter Joshie Jo Armstead was born on October 8, 1944 in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Wilton Armstead and Rosie Lee Armstead. As a youth, she sang in the church choir and was introduced to blues music by her grandfather. Armstead’s first performance was with Bobby “Blue” Bland in Mississippi, before joining a local band, Little Melvin & The Downbeats.

Armstead began her singing career when she joined the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1961, as one of the original touring Ikettes along with Eloise Hester and Delores Johnson. She toured with them from 1961 to 1963, and recorded the Ikettes record “I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song).” Released in 1962 and featuring Tina Turner singing backing vocals, the song reached number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the R&B chart. After leaving the Ikettes in 1963, Armstead moved to New York City and began recording music under the name Deena Johnson. There, she met Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford and formed the writing trio of Armstead, Ashford, & Simpson. The trio wrote tracks for artists such as Chuck Jackson, The Shirelles, and Doris Troy, but their greatest success came when they wrote Ray Charles’ 1966 #1 hit “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” and the follow up single “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”

When Ashford & Simpson signed with Motown Records in 1966, Armstead left the trio and moved to Chicago, where she married music producer Melvin Collins and the couple founded their own record label, Giant Productions and wrote songs for Garland Green, Ruby Andrews, Syl Johnson and many others, also collaborating with famous music arranger Andrew “Mike” Terry. She returned to New York in 1970, following the collapse of Giant Productions and her marriage to Collins. She sang back up in Bob Dylan’s 1971 single “George Jackson,” and performed in B.B. King’s Live in London show, Melvin Van Peebles’ Broadway show, the film Don’t Play Us Cheap and the Broadway musical “Seesaw.” Armstead also recorded singles with the Stax offshoot label Gospel Truth, and sang backup vocals for Burt Bacharach’s LP “Features,” before returning to Chicago in the early 1980s and starring in Oscar Brown Jr.’s musical “Journey Through Forever.” Armstead’s songs include “Stumblin Blocks, Steppin’ Stones,” “I’ve Been Turned On,” “A Stone Good Lover” and “I Feel An Urge Coming On.”

Josephine “Joshie Jo” Armstead was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.002

Sex

Female

Interview Date

07/15/2016

Last Name

Armstead

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Occupation
Schools

Yazoo City High School No. 2

The New School for Social Research

First Name

Josephine

Birth City, State, Country

Yazoo City

HM ID

ARM02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Islands and the Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Never Let Them See You Sweat.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

10/8/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turnip Greens, Fried Chicken, Hot Water Corn Bread and Sliced Tomatoes

Short Description

Singer and songwriter Joshie Jo Armstead (1942 - ) was one of the original Ikettes with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and later formed the writing trio Armstead, Ashford & Simpson with Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford.

Employment

The Ike & Tina Turner Revue

Motown Records

Warner Brothers

Universal Music Group

Stax Records

Atlantic Recording Corporation

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:732,5:2074,24:8830,100:11770,131:12190,136:16445,161:17570,186:19595,218:19895,223:23163,239:23391,244:24018,260:28130,290:28514,295:29474,313:30146,321:30818,330:32258,353:32834,360:33506,369:41929,442:45520,455:52680,515:55913,537:56405,542:59984,556:62151,574:64720,597:66965,615:70803,649:71167,654:73377,673:81305,754:85250,795:85970,805:86610,823:95649,925:97215,952:105461,1000:106113,1005:111988,1047:113164,1066:113836,1075:119561,1107:120364,1119:123770,1128:126486,1149:127074,1158:138949,1261:140373,1282:141085,1291:146972,1310:147896,1324:148568,1337:158360,1387:159240,1399:164970,1451:167248,1472:170695,1488:172120,1511:172690,1518:176680,1577:177060,1583:177440,1588:187842,1670:189191,1698:193996,1732:194752,1740:197452,1777:202461,1811:202923,1818:203462,1827:208872,1889:212092,1904:212666,1912:215864,1992:216602,2004:217176,2013:222090,2047:222580,2055:228832,2082:245794,2230:247198,2254:250097,2293:251069,2307:252689,2331:253175,2340:253823,2349:254957,2378:256253,2415:256901,2426:260862,2442:262946,2461:263378,2468:264026,2480:270290,2539:272162,2556:272624,2564:274087,2588:276480,2613$0,0:348,6:1827,25:2523,36:6930,71:13824,129:18742,160:19070,165:19726,173:20382,182:20710,187:21284,195:22022,206:22842,219:23334,226:29970,262:30290,267:33730,320:39521,376:39853,381:40683,393:41264,413:41928,423:42675,433:45912,491:53170,563:54249,585:54996,596:58872,641:65844,690:66460,698:67252,714:74015,734:74987,750:75635,759:83420,840:84620,856:88724,901:93620,928:93980,933:98750,1054:104780,1077:105260,1083:106430,1088:107270,1099:108446,1120:143572,1424:144349,1432:145126,1440:147561,1455:148365,1475:160598,1598:169490,1714:171658,1723:172230,1746
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Joshie Jo Armstead's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her maternal family in Yazoo City, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her mother's professions

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about the origin of her family's name

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about her sister's relationship with Ike Turner

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her experiences in Yazoo City, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about southern blues singers

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her family's home in Yazoo City, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls Yazoo City High School No. 2 in Yazoo City, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers a racist incident from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her early interest in singing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about the birth of her daughter

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls performing with Little Melvin and the Downbeats

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about her mother's religious faith

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes the formation of The Ikettes

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls joining The Ikettes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her touring experiences with The Ikettes, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her touring experiences with The Ikettes, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls The Ikettes' hit song, 'I'm Blue'

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers leaving The Ikettes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls making a record in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about working with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls writing 'Let's Go Get Stoned' for Ray Charles

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes Valerie Simpson

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her songwriting partnership with Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers founding Giant Records

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls discovering her ex-husband's copyright fraud

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about her ex-husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead describes her experiences as a background singer in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers working with Bob Dylan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls working as a studio backup singer

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers acting in the play 'Don't Play Us Cheap'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls appearing in 'Seesaw' on Broadway

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers signing a contract with Gospel Truth Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about the decline of Stax Records

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers Tina Turner

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls working with Burt Bacharach

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about living with her daughter in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers working in the advertising industry

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls becoming the first female boxing manager in Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls working as boxer Alfonso Ratliff's manager

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about her interest in fashion

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers attending The New School for Social Research in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about the culture of the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Joshie Jo Armstead remembers founding Preacher Rose Records

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Joshie Jo Armstead recalls her performance at Littlefield in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Joshie Jo Armstead talks about her retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Joshie Jo Armstead reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Joshie Jo Armstead shares her advice to aspiring musicians

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Joshie Jo Armstead reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Joshie Jo Armstead narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Joshie Jo Armstead remembers a racist incident from her childhood
Joshie Jo Armstead remembers moving to New York City
Transcript
As a young child do you remember seeing the signs for colored bathroom and white bathroom and were, were the, what did segregation look like in your town?$$Yeah there were the white and colored signs especially in the post office, not the post office, the bus station. You somewhat had to step aside if you were walking down the street and whites were coming down the street. And again you had to say (pronunciation) yes sir, and no sir, I think it was even frowned upon to say yes, sir or no, sir. It had to be subservient in a way, very demeaning and difficult and the black community stayed mostly in our own area. You had to venture out and most people worked, and they worked in the houses the women did as maids. And the men as chauffeurs and gardeners and so forth and so on, but we basically stayed in our own community.$$Were you able to shop in the local stores or, were you not allowed to, to--$$No you could shop, you could spend your money, yeah but again you were gonna be treated less than and the white people were hostile in Mississippi. They probably still are, so it was, it was an environment that was disturbing.$$Did you have any direct experience with whites in Mississippi?$$Yes I did, I remember my baby sister [Odell Brent] once wanting to go to the midnight movie. And so she wanted to pay half fare, I think she was underage, and the, the ticket agent selling the tickets, a white woman told her that she had to pay full fare to see the movie. And she said, "But I'm not but twelve years old, and I'm with my big sister." And the woman was very, very nasty, "I don't care who you are with and I said you gotta pay full fare," and my sister talked back to her. This is my baby sister. She sent someone around to hold the door and call the police on my baby sister, and the police came and took her away. She was twelve years old, and they put her in jail. And I'm feeling helpless and I run home and I tell Mama [Rosie Johnson Armstead] and we both go down to the jail and they kept her there all night for talking back to a white woman. So these are the kind of experiences and I tell you I'm sitting here, I, I, I really don't wanna recall them. You know you sort of bury them and, but that was the experience back in the late '50s [1950s]. And my experience in Mississippi, and before that, my mother's experience and my [maternal] grandfather [Lucius Johnson] and the rest of my family. I, I'm afraid to say, I'm pretty sure it was horrible, but you live, you learn to live, you learn to be happy. And as I said my family we're like happy people, good time people.$A man named Luther Dixon that I met when I was an Ikette [The Ikettes] came to the club where I was one night and we struck up a conversation. Luther was, had been given a contract with Capitol Records to form his own record company, Ludix Records. Luther was also very close with Florence Greenberg who owned Scepter Records. And talking to Luther he asked me did I wanna come back to New York [New York] and maybe try recording with him. And I jumped at the opportunity 'cause half my family that left Mississippi was in Brooklyn [New York], where I had no family and just a few friends in L.A., so I left Los Angeles [California] and came to New York.$$And in New York you were then working with Luther and Florence?$$The, the contract that I expected from Ludix Record never materialized, but thanks to Ike [Ike Turner] and, and me wanting to be a songwriter out of New York was bustling with songwriters. And I got in that community; it was a couple of bars called the C and D [ph.] and the Turf [Turf Restaurant, New York, New York] where the musicians would hang. There were publishing offices all over the place called Tin Pan Alley, but it was kind of on its way down but it was still thriving. And so I met a guy Robert Mosley who played wonderful piano, and we began to write together. And in the course of that, I met [HistoryMaker] Valerie Simpson and through Valerie, Nick.$$Nick Ashford?$$Yes, and we started writing together.$$And this is around what time now, you're, you're about how old?$$Twenty-five.$$Okay.$$What year would that be?$$Actually maybe even younger, looks here like maybe (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$--around twenty.$$Yeah, yeah.$$Nineteen sixty-four [1964].$$Nineteen sixty- yeah (laughter).

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater was born on May 27, 1950 in Memphis, Tennessee. Raised in Flint, Michigan, Bridgewater was exposed early to jazz music; her father, Matthew Garrett, was a jazz trumpeter and teacher at Manassas High School. After high school, Bridgewater attended Michigan State University before transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1969, she toured the Soviet Union with the University of Illinois Big Band.

In 1970, Bridgewater met and married trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater and moved to New York City. She sang lead vocals for the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in the early 1970s, and appeared in the Broadway musical The Wiz from 1974 to 1976. Bridgewater also released her first album in 1974, entitled Afro Blue. Then, after touring France in 1984 with the musical Sophisticated Ladies, she moved to Paris in 1986 and acted in the show Lady Day. Bridgewater also formed her own backup group around this time and performed at the Sanremo Song Festival in Italy and the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990. Four years later, she collaborated with Horace Silver and released the album Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver. She then released a tribute album, entitled Dear Ella, in 1997, and the record Live at Yoshi’s in 1998. Subsequent albums included This is New (2002); J'ai Deux Amours (2005); Red Earth (2007); and Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee Bridgewater (2010). She has also performed with the Terence Blanchard Quintet at the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and opened the Shanghai JZ Jazz Festival in 2009. Bridgewater also appeared regularly at other music festivals and on numerous television shows, radio programs, and in feature films. She owns a production company and record label, and has hosted NPR’s syndicated radio show JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater since 2001. In addition, Bridgewater served as a United Nations Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Bridgewater has received seven Grammy Award nominations and won three. She also won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in The Wiz. Bridgewater was the first American to be inducted to the Haut Conseil de la Francophonie and has received the Award of Arts and Letters in France, as well as the country’s 1998 top honor, Victoire de la Musique.

Dee Dee Bridgewater was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 10, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.254

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/10/2014

Last Name

Bridgewater

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Michigan State University

Clark Elementary School

St. Matthew Catholic School

Southwestern Classical Academy

First Name

Dee Dee

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

BRI08

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any Island

Favorite Quote

Awesome Sauce.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

5/27/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New Orleans

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Singer and actress Dee Dee Bridgewater (1950 - ) was a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer, as well as a Tony Award-winning stage actress, and hosted NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.

Employment

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra

NPR

DDB Productions, Inc.

DDB Records

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:21538,420:25310,485:31842,700:39188,739:40068,750:43764,817:46140,860:54860,978:55220,983:56750,1005:68116,1152:76856,1285:87580,1368:93052,1510:95180,1603:101612,1649:102707,1674:103948,1703:119066,1932:146110,2141:153690,2222:154600,2259:154860,2264:155120,2269:157468,2279:158238,2285:173812,2437:174220,2442:177688,2478:178300,2485:181530,2490:181845,2496:186695,2577:187085,2585:187540,2594:189640,2621$0,0:1746,58:2994,87:9234,204:18260,348:18900,357:19700,374:51820,779:72445,1005:75802,1092:78429,1150:78713,1155:82810,1193:83272,1200:83657,1209:84966,1226:85274,1231:88066,1256:92038,1318:109496,1552:109832,1557:112520,1596:115460,1636:122679,1719:127327,1841:141948,2005:142160,2010:144550,2023:145488,2038:146761,2064:147096,2071:147766,2090:152389,2195:152791,2202:153260,2210:154466,2237:159334,2296:162876,2360:167788,2422:169350,2428:178313,2476:179039,2487:181964,2510:182299,2516:187800,2593:188110,2599:193790,2704:206820,2857:207310,2865:207870,2875:208290,2882:215729,3029:219014,3125:225599,3214:226942,3234:245028,3503:263810,3784:264320,3792:265510,3832:269505,3914:270865,3937:275337,3976:279155,4069:279653,4079:279985,4084:280483,4091:280815,4096:281147,4105:305948,4372:310256,4398:313120,4425
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dee Dee Bridgewater's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Bridgewater lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her mother's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her father's education and musical talent

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about how her parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her relationship with her sister

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers the St. Matthews Catholic School in Flint, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers her teenage personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her high school education

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Bridgewater reflects upon the role of religion in her upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her artistic development

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her experiences of sexual abuse in the Catholic church

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her experiences of childhood sexual abuse

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers forming The Irisdescents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about the prevalence of childhood molestation

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her college aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers the development of her political consciousness

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her college counseling

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her activism with the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers her early singing performances

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers meeting her first husband, Cecil Bridgewater

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers obtaining an illegal abortion

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls transferring to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls joining the Jazz Big Band at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers touring the Soviet Union with the Jazz Big Band

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about jazz music in the Soviet Union

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers Horace Silver

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her collaboration with Horace Silver

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes the jazz fusion scene in the 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Bridgewater describes her development as a musician

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her early albums

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her role in 'The Wiz,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her role in 'The Wiz,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about the contention over casting for 'The Wiz' movie

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her relationship with Gilbert Moses

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers the critical acclaim for her album, 'Dee Dee Bridgewater'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dee Dee Bridgewater reflects upon her experiences performing in 'The Wiz'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dee Dee Bridgewater remembers her album, 'Just Family'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dee Dee Bridgewater talks about her television appearances

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her collaboration with Horace Silver
Dee Dee Bridgewater recalls her role in 'The Wiz,' pt. 1
Transcript
So, imagine his surprise when I called him in 1995 and said, "Horace [Horace Silver], I'm gonna do an album of your music ['Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver']." He was stunned, he said, "But Dee [HistoryMaker Dee Dee Bridgewater], I mean after, after I threw you off the stage all those years ago, you wanna do it with me?" I said, "I love your music, I love your music." So, when I picked the songs he, he said, "Well, then I will write all the lyrics." And some of the songs had lyrics that had been (simultaneous)-- (Simultaneous) So, you wrote the lyrics?$$Horace wrote, (unclear)--$$Horace said he'd write all the lyrics.$$--said he would write all the lyrics for the songs that I selected, and he had, had some kind of publishing conflict with Jon Hendricks who had written a lot of lyrics on his songs, and their, their agreement can--had come up so he was getting all his publishing back and so he said he would write all the lyrics for me.$$'Cause he had some songs that had lyrics like the "Song for My Father" and then others that didn't have any.$$Yep.$$As of yet.$$He wrote--$$Yeah.$$--all the lyrics, yep for that album and then he agreed, I asked him if he would perform on the album and Horace never guested on anyone's albums. And he did, I flew him to Paris [France], I recorded the album in Paris and he came.$$That was "Permit Me to Introduce You to Yourself" (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) "You to Yourself."$$Did he write those lyrics--$$Yes.$$--especially for you?$$No, that he had (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Were they already--$$--written for--he did this trilogy called The United States of Mind' and that, that was on one of those albums. It was on the first album. So, he'd written those lyrics already.$$Okay, all right.$$But like "Pretty Eyes" well he rewrote the lyrics, they were famous lyrics that had been written by Jon Hendricks, so rewrote the lyrics on, on "Song for My Father" on "Doodlin'" then he wrote me the lyrics for everything else. "Saint Vitus Dance," "Soulville," "Nica's Dream," "Filthy McNasty," "The Jody Grind;" all those songs, every song on that album.$$Okay.$$Those are all Horace Silver lyrics and as a result of that album project, if you look at Horace's CDs [compact discs] that came after, he wrote lyrics on many of the songs and put them in the, the CD sleeves. So, I'm very proud that I initiated that.$$We are all grateful.$$Well, I wanted to at that time give singers other material to choose from other than the 'American Songbooks' ['Great American Songbook'] and I wanted him to be able to reap the rewards while he was alive.$Now you were married to Cecil Bridgewater for two years?$$Four and a half.$$Four and a half, okay, so, you're still married when you produce 'Afro Blue' and--$$Yes.$$Okay.$$He did that horrible contract, Cecil is a horrible negotiator for a contract.$$So you didn't (unclear) (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) He gave our rights away.$$Oh.$$For four thousand dollars, we were paid four thousand dollars for that, and that's it.$$So, now at some point here, as we approach 1975, now you appeared on a Norman Connors album 'Love from the Sun'?$$Um-hm.$$On Buddah Records and at some point, you auditioned for--$$'The Wiz.'$$The Broadway production of 'The Wiz,' right.$$I auditioned for 'The Wiz'--let me get this straight 'cause we started the rehearsals in '74 [1974]. So, it was like I did a--I just went to a cattle call audition in '73 [1973], seems like it was in the summer of '73 [1973] and I got a call back and I went back and I just sang. I don't remember what I sang but it was certainly jazz. Then the band, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis [The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra] had a tour, a summer tour and we were going to Europe and I remember we came back in August. So, this is like two months later or something and we come back and I get a call to come and audition again, and I'm like, this is weird, for the director and the director is Gilbert Moses. So, I go and, and I, I audition and then the, he called he said he wants to see me and he wants to spend some time with me. So, I go for my fourth audition and that audition he made me do some improvisational stuff. He made me run around this rehearsal room with my arms dangling and shouting at the top of my voice so I could get relaxed and I could--I don't know, release or whatever that thing was.$$This is Free Southern Theater style (unclear) (laughter).$$Gilbert was a genius, Gilbert was a--he really was a genius but he had demons. He had really, really, really, really major demons but I didn't know that at the time, and he did this thing called transformation where we had to improvise like a scene and I had to like create dialogue and he'd throw dialogue at me and then he'd go, "Transformation," and then I had to become another character, doing something else. That was a fun--that was fun. Gilbert was a great, great actor's director. He really, really was. So, after that audition he gave me the role of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South which was a very big role when I first got it. During the tryouts, I don't know, maybe because I was so slender and I had you know, I was so well endowed upstairs, every straight man involved in that show hit on me and I'm married to Cecil. I'm trying to get a divorce from Cecil, he won't give me a divorce. I've already tried to embarrass him by having an affair with a trumpet player, 'cause I just love my trumpets, and I started having an affair with, with Gilbert while we're doing the tryouts. Then the man who was behind 20th Century Fox [Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation] who was a liaison who had given some of the funding to Ken Harper [Kenneth Harper], the producer, decided that he wanted me to be his mistress and he would send notes. He'd come to see the show periodically and he would send notes to me by the ushers and that he wanted to meet me and so I'd go out and I'd be polite, and you know go out in my robe and my makeup half done you know, for the show and he'd be sitting in the theater and you know and he was like you know, I, I--he was very straightforward. "I want you to be my mistress," but I was like, "I'm sorry, I'm with someone and I don't do that, and you're married. I'm sorry. I'm flattered," you know, I tried everything I could think of. "So flattered, but oh, I, I, oh, no that's too scary." So, he came to Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] and this is just before--I think this is about a month, 'cause were out six weeks, I mean six weeks, we were out six months because then we did tryouts you know where they would fix everything before you got to Broadway, and I think we were about a month out from coming back into New York [New York] and it was in Philadelphia and he came and he sent Nasha [ph.] back and so I come out and he says, "You will be my mistress," and I said, "I'm sorry, if you were the last man on this earth, I would not sleep with you. I'm in a relationship, I am not going to do it." And the next day Gilbert was fired.

Billy Davis, Jr.

Singer Billy Davis, Jr. was born on June 26, 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri to William Davis, Sr. and Norris Wilbur. Davis started singing in gospel choirs at an early age. He attended Washington Technical High School in St. Louis and sang with a band called the Emeralds. In 1958, Davis and his father opened a nightclub, where he worked and performed music. In 1961, he was drafted into the United States Army and formed another band, The Kingsmen, while stationed in Germany.

In 1965, Davis moved to Los Angeles, California seeking a recording opportunity with Motown Records. While waiting for his chance to go into the studio with one of their producers, he and friend Lamonte McLemore decided to start a singing group as a hobby. The Versatiles was formed, which included Davis, McLemore, Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, and Ron Townson. The group signed to the Soul City label, changed their name to The 5th Dimension, and recorded their first hit in 1966, "Go Where You Wanna Go." In 1967, they released “Up, Up, and Away,” which won four Grammy Awards and was the title track to The 5th Dimension's first hit album. In 1969, The 5th Dimension released The Age of Aquarius. The album's first single, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," became a mega-hit and occupied the number one spot on the charts for six weeks. It earned the group two more Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year.

In 1969, Davis married bandmate Marilyn McCoo, and in 1975, they left The 5th Dimension. Together, they released 1976's I Hope We Get To Love In Time, featuring the single, "You Don't Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)." The song went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned the duo a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. Davis and McCoo went on to host The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show on CBS in 1977.

In 1982, Davis returned to the studio and recorded a solo gospel album called Let Me Have a Dream, which was co-produced by the world-renown Gospel artist, the Rev. James Cleveland. In the 1990s, he continued to sing and explored a career in musical theatre, starring in Dreamgirls in North Carolina in 1993, and Blues in the Night, at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California in 1994. He later founded the Soldiers For the Second Coming Music Ministry and co-authored the book Up, Up and Away…How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World with McCoo in 2004.

Davis has also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and The 5th Dimension was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002. He received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2012.

Billy Davis, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 29, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.179

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/29/2014

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Washington Technical High School

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Coleman Elementary School

First Name

Billy

Birth City, State, Country

St. Louis

HM ID

DAV33

Favorite Season

None

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/26/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Singer Billy Davis, Jr. (1938 - ) is a Grammy Award-winning musician and an original member of The 5th Dimension. He is also co-author, with his wife Marilyn McCoo, of Up, Up and Away…How We Found Love, Faith and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World.

Employment

Self Employed

U.S. Army

Various

5th Dimension

McCoo & Davis

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Davis, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his maternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his paternal family's experience in Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his father's lumber company

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his childhood neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his varied religious experiences as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about musical traditions in different churches

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. recalls memories from his grade school years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his love for baseball and professional baseball teams in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about how he met HistoryMaker Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his favorite subjects in school

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about musicians he looked up to as a teenager

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his grade school education

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his high school band, the Emeralds

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about dropping out of high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his job and musical trajectory after dropping out of high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his decision to sing popular music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about developing his music and performance skills at the Havana Club in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. describes being drafted into the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about being stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky and the Merrell Barracks in Germany while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about playing music while in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about performing at the Apollo Theatre and the events of 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about opening the Oriole nightclub in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about separating from his first wife

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about meeting HistoryMaker Lamonte McLemore and moving to California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about forming the Versatiles with Ron Townson and HistoryMakers Lamonte McLemore and Florence LaRue

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describe their singing style and the origin of The Versatiles' names

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about the mentorship of Rene DeKnight

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The Versatiles' manager, Marc Gordon

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their first hit, 'Go Where You Wanna Go' and renaming The Versatiles as The 5th Dimension

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's first album and meeting songwriter Jimmy Webb

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about the significance of The 5th Dimension's first album 'Up, Up and Away'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's second album, 'The Magic Garden'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about working with Bones Howe on The 5th Dimension's second album, 'The Magic Garden;

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's television performances

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's album, "The Age of Aquarius"

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about how they saw 'Hair' the musical on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about life on the road and falling in love with each other

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr and Marilyn McCoo talk about the television special, 'The 5th Dimension: An Odyssey and the Cosmic Universe of Peter Max'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about 'One Less Bell to Answer' and 'Love's Lines, Angles and Rhymes'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about 'Wedding Bell Blues' and connecting with audiences

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their record contract and the 1971 television special, 'The 5th Dimension Travelling Sunshine Show'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's contract with ABC Records

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about leaving The 5th Dimension and recording the original group's final album

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo reflect on their last album with The 5th Dimension, 'Earthbound'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their joint album and television show

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their second and third joint albums and their international success

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marilyn McCoo talks about recording a solo album and hosting 'Solid Gold'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about recording a gospel album

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marilyn McCoo talks about being cast on 'Days of Our Lives'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describes performing for Pope Saint John Paul II and President George H.W. Bush

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about reuniting with The 5th Dimension in 1990

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about The 5th Dimension's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their Christian faith

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marilyn McCoo talks about winning a Grammy and performing on Broadway's 'Show Boat'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about going on tour and working with Jamie Foxx

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about Davis' prostate cancer diagnosis

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their book 'Up, Up and Away: How We Found Love, Faith, and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their recent work and touring with Sir Cliff Richard

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their legacy and their relationship

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about what they would do differently

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Billy Davis, Jr. talks about his theatre performances

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about Davis' son and their praise ministry

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their community service in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo talk about their relationship with the original members of The 5th Dimension including HistoryMaker Florence LaRue

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo describe how they want to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$10

DATitle
Billy Davis, Jr. talks about the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
Billy Davis, Jr. talks about meeting HistoryMaker Lamonte McLemore and moving to California
Transcript
I asked the same question of your wife [HM Marilyn McCoo], but what were some of the sights, and sounds, and smells of growing up?$$Well, I would, I would say the, the, I, I, I would say smells of, you know, what, what, in St. Louis [Missouri], you, you know, we, we, we--it was a steel mill. You could smell smokes, you know, the smells of, of steel burning. And 'cause that's what, it was the Scullin Steel was one of the major places where, where a lot men would work, and you would, you could, you could smell it, you know. And, and, and if you were fortunate enough to, to, to live in, in an area that, that wasn't deep in the city, that just had an area where there were trees, and, and, and, and, and, and, and birds, and, and, and the blue jays, and robins, and all those kind of birds, I mean cardinals. That's where the St. Louis Cardinals came from. (Unclear)--cardinal bird, you would see all of them in, in St. Louis, you know. And, and sights, it was just, just, just trains and, and things like that, you know, trucks. There was a lot of, lot of industry there.$$Okay, okay, now was there, was there a lot of music in, in your home?$$Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, it was a lot of music in the house. I mean, my sisters and, and, and, and me, we would sing. We would sing songs. We would sing songs, get together and, and, and harmonize. And I just, I know [HM] Marilyn [McCoo] talked about--we talked about it because we did the same thing in our family. And it was, it was beautiful, beautiful to be able to get together and sing because during those years you didn't have a lot of things to entertain ourselves with, not like they do today. But, but one, one--which I think is missing today because they need to be entertaining themselves with each other instead of with the, a lot of the stuff that they entertain themselves with. But it's brought the family closer together. We, we enjoyed each other. We couldn't wait to get together and sing and show off in front of each other. It was just, it was just a lot of fun. And yeah, so there was always music in the house. I remember listening to albums and old blues songs, you know, like I was, I was, I was a, I was a--[clearing throat]--excuse me--I was the type of kid that I loved all kind of music. I want, I wanted to, to--once I knew I could sing, I wanted to sing everything. And so I would get into, I would listen to jazz. I would listen to blues and, and Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, and, and I would listen to all those kind of guys, Memphis, Memphis Slim. And then, then on the other hand, I'd, I'd be listening to Snooky Lanson on the Lucky Strike Parade [Officially Your Hit Parade] and, and people like that. And, and, and then I would, I, I would, I remember my mother would, would take us to the opera out at Forest Park. And, and, and I remember the first time I went and experienced an opera. It blew my mind. You know, it was like wow, these people are on stage, and they're changing outfits. And it's, they're painting a picture, they're paint a picture for us of life and how all these went, what used to be years ago. I remember seeing the 'King and I' in the Forest Park on stage.$$So this is a big park in the middle of the city?$$In the, in the--Oak Forest--$$Yeah.$$--Park is one of your major, major parks in the United States. I mean it's world-known.$$And beautiful park.$$And beautiful park, and plus it's got a world-known zoo, you know. But they also had an opera house out there. And we would go out there and my God, I was just, I mean, to see the opera, it, it, it fascinated me. I mean I couldn't believe all this beauty and all this stuff--[clearing throat]--excuse me--was happening on stage. And, and it was, it was just, it was just, it was just I knew then that, that, that where I wanted to be, 'cause I didn't know if I--but I enjoyed opera. I still enjoy to this day, classical music. I, I, I, I'll tell you, I listen to everything, but, and I enjoy it all. But I never thought I would be an opera singer.$$Now St. Louis is one, but Houston [Texas]--(simultaneous)--$$$$--there's an opera in a park, and I can't think of too many other places that have an opera in the park. In fact, I can't think of any right now, but they were like, what, the Mooney's Theater out there and all that, you know, so--$$Mm-hmm.$$Yeah.$$Well, during those years I didn't know, I, I didn't know it was an opera in the park until we--that my mother [Norris Oldham Davis] took us. And once, once she took us out there, then I wanted to keep going because it interest me. It was the music, you know. And I don't what other parks had operas in 'em or, or nothin'. I never thought about it after that. But it's one of the things that stuck in my mind and my heart, that, that, that, that it was a part of the music that I would love, you know. And so that was a good experience for me for, for preparation for, for what I wanted to do in my life.$Now you left St. Louis [Missouri] in '65 [1965]. Now, did you, did you know your friends were out there, you know--$$Yeah.$$--[HM] Lamonte [McLemore] and--$$Yeah, well, well, Lamonte's brother, Donald, he was coming through St. Louis. And I had talked to him, and I had, I had called Lamonte and asked him, you know, if he knew anybody at Motown Records on the West Coast, and he said yes. He said I know the president on the, of the West Coast. I said wow, that's great. I said do you think you can get me a, a, an appointment with him. I said I wanna go, I wanna meet him, so I go see about getting with the company. Lamonte asked me, said well, can you sing? I said, I said yeah, yeah. I say, I said you get the appointment. I'll do the rest, you know, and so he did. And at that particular time, his brother was coming through St. Louis visiting some of the, his people. So that was my ride out to Los Angeles [California]. So Dunk came through--Donald--$$He actually drove, he drove back from L.A. [Los Angeles, California] and was going back, huh?$$Yeah, he drove--$$Yeah.$$--from L.A. coming to see his family. And then we got--he picked me up now on the way back and, and drove back to California. I drove with him--$$How, how--$$And--$$--how many hours is it from St. Louis to Los Angeles?$$Oh it's--$$Or how many days is it?$$It's about a day or so, or, or more. It's according to how long you wanna stay on the road, you know, 'cause we stopped in Denver [Colorado] and stayed overnight in Denver. And then we left Denver and came, came into L.A. the next day. But what, what happened was a, a, a, a, a crazy story happened because the night before I left to come to L.A. [Los Angeles, California], I played in a club with another friend of mine. His name is Jasper Thomas. Jasper used to be the drummer for Chuck Berry. So, so, but, but both of us were hitting the sauce at the time. And so we, we, we, we played, and, and, and when we finished the job that night, I know I was going to be going out to California the next day. So what happened is I had my guitar and my amp, and instead of--he, he packed his drums in the, in the trunk. Usually, I would have put my guitar and amp in the trunk of the car, but I put 'em in the backseat. And drinking, I, I didn't think about it. And so on the way home we decided that we was gon' stop and get some barbecue. So we stopped, and when we stopped somebody broke in the car and stole my amp and the, and, and, and my guitar that I was taking to California, 'cause that was gon' be my working tools. And so, what happened was, I came out of the barbecue place, and they got me home. And I opened the trunk, and I said hey, man, my guitar and my amp's not in (laughter)--so, it was, it was, in, it was in the car that we figured out, so. Anyway, I came on out to California anyway. But once I came out to California without a, without a, something to work with, I knew I had to get a job, you know. So I got a job when I came out there. And then once I got a job, I, I ended up buying another guitar and an amp, so, to start, to start--see, you buying what you need to get started again. Then I started playing in some clubs, yeah.$$Okay.$$And then wasn't long after that that Lamonte and I sat down and started talking about starting a group. But I, I, at the time, I didn't wanna start a group. We talked about it. I said Mack, I said you know, I'm out here looking for a contract. I said now, if we wanna do this for a hobby, that's fine, you know. I said 'cause I like group singing. I've always done group singing. I say but if anything happened with this, with, with this audition, you know, I'm gone, you know, so.