The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Bobby Rogers

Bobby Rogers, a second tenor with The Miracles, was born on February 19, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. Coincidentally, he was born on the same day and in the same hospital as Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson. At the age of fifteen, Rogers joined Robinson’s group, The Matadors, with his cousin, Claudette Rogers. In 1959, he, along with Robinson, Rogers, Ronald White and Pete Moore, joined Berry Gordy’s new Motown label, with the new name, The Miracles.

Aside from being a key background vocalist, Rogers helped write several songs for both The Miracles and other Motown acts. These include “The Way You Do The Thing You Do,” by The Temptations, and The Miracles own hit, “Going to A Go-Go.” After Smokey Robinson’s departure in 1972, Rogers stayed with the group, helping to recruit new lead singer Billy Griffin. With Griffin, the Miracles recorded three additional hits, notably 1975’s “Love Machine.” It is Rogers who offers the song’s signature deep growls. After Griffin and Moore departed, Rogers kept The Miracles brand alive, by adding various new members to the lineup.

In 1983, Rogers joined Robinson and other band mates for the Motown’s 25th anniversary special. He, Robinson, and the rest of the Miracles were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001. The Miracles received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2009. Rogers passed away on March 3, 2013.

Accession Number

A2010.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/7/2010

Last Name

Rogers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Northeastern High School

Cass Technical High School

First Name

Bobby

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

ROG08

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

It Is All Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/19/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Ribs

Death Date

3/3/2013

Short Description

Songwriter and singer Bobby Rogers (1940 - 2013 ) was a second tenor with the legendary Motown group, The Miracles.

Employment

Motown Records

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:387,4:9210,202:24910,499:25718,508:27435,551:36830,666:46897,766:47687,776:67760,917:68120,986:82506,1077:83038,1086:83646,1096:84330,1106:84862,1114:98149,1239:130660,1443:132130,1468:164170,1722:166000,1731:173158,1942:204230,2125:213892,2284:229460,2433:249994,2647:262880,2815$0,0:590,3:4720,48:5664,57:14050,215:22105,305:29410,382:46550,542:68890,632:135214,1045:173703,1308:175572,1378:178954,1445:181891,1490:189407,1560:189965,1575:190523,1584:190988,1590:192197,1607:192569,1612:193406,1622:208697,1793:216390,1928:218560,1973:218980,1981:228420,2098
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bobby Rogers' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bobby Rogers lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bobby Rogers describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bobby Rogers describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bobby Rogers describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bobby Rogers lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bobby Rogers describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bobby Rogers describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bobby Rogers remembers his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bobby Rogers remembers listening to his father play the guitar

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bobby Rogers remembers his maternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bobby Rogers recalls his childhood in Detroit, Michigan's Black Bottom neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bobby Rogers describes his early interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bobby Rogers remembers meeting Smokey Robinson

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bobby Rogers remembers meeting the members of The Miracles

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bobby Rogers describes how he joined The Miracles

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bobby Rogers talks about The Miracles' first song, 'Got A Job'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bobby Rogers talks about The Miracles' song, 'Bad Girl'

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bobby Rogers recalls his experiences at Chess Records

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bobby Rogers talks about The Miracle's first hit, 'Shop Around'

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bobby Rogers describes his first car

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bobby Rogers remembers writing 'First I Look at the Purse' with Smokey Robinson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bobby Rogers reflects upon his rapport with his bandmates

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bobby Rogers remembers the debut of The Miracles on 'American Bandstand'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bobby Rogers remembers registering the name of The Miracles

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bobby Rogers recalls his experiences on the European Motortown Revue tour

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bobby Rogers recalls the songwriters at Motown Records

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bobby Rogers talks about contemporary African American music

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bobby Rogers reflects upon his life

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bobby Rogers reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bobby Rogers talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bobby Rogers describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bobby Rogers reflects upon his success

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Bobby Rogers describes how he joined The Miracles
Bobby Rogers talks about The Miracle's first hit, 'Shop Around'
Transcript
The Matadors [The Miracles] are 1955, included [HistoryMaker] Smokey Robinson, Ro- Ronald White, [HistoryMaker] Pete Moore, and your cousin, Emerson Rogers?$$Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And he left and Claudette [HistoryMaker Claudette Robinson] took his place, is what I heard.$$Yeah.$$Is that true?$$Yeah.$$And you joined, too?$$No, I didn't join.$$You didn't join The Matadors?$$No, I didn't join. I was--$$Okay.$$I was telling you--$$Okay.$$--what happened with--$$Now, how did you get involved with The Miracles then?$$Because my Em- my cousin Emerson was singing with them. And it's a guy named, we call him Rat, just 'cause he was big and stuff like that. And--$$Was it James "Rat" Grice?$$Yeah, Rice [sic.], yeah. And he stopped singing because his wife, his girlfriend, was having a baby. So he wanted to make it, you know, make it right with her, and stuff like that. And so I started singing with them.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$So you, you sang second tenor?$$Yes.$$Okay. So, first tenor I guess was Smokey, huh?$$Yeah.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$Okay. Now, did you have a sense that the group was something special when you got involved in it? Or what were you thinking at that time?$$They had ide- ideals--ideas, and we were, we wanted to come to--I'm trying to figure out--at that time they rode somewhere, rode this way. I think they came to Cincinnati [Ohio]. And they came here and then we had some record people; some white guys that had records, they were doing records. Then, they had Chess [Chess Records] here in this area, you know. And then they went to see if they could get them a thing, you know, like a contract, (laughter) you know.$$Okay.$$So, they didn't let nobody hire us. So, that's when The Platters came out with the girl [Zola Taylor] they had. So Claudette was singing in our group, but the guy we wanted to--went to see--oh this thing is on (laughter).$$Yep.$$Well, we went to see this guy at this place that we had that you danced at. And he said, "No, you know, can't no other group--no other group going to be like The Platters, you know." And then--$$So he though you all were sounding too much like The Platters? And (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah. I mean it's really--no, I mean I came to explain some things to him or something that, you know, that we weren't trying to be like them. We just--they got a Cadillac and we wanted a Cadillac, you know, something like that. But anyway, so Smo- so right then Jackie Wilson lived in our city [Detroit, Michigan], and he'd just made this song 'To Be Loved,' and that was going to be hit. And then this guy came out and said, "Hey, hey, Smokey," because Smokey had this little book of songs. He said, "Hey, you got some more songs?" Smokey said, "Yeah." You know, so then he hooked up with us and then we went to make our first song.$In nineteen fifty-tin- '59 [1959] when you were nineteen years old, [HistoryMaker] Berry Gordy formed Motown [Tamla Records; Motown Records], right?$$Yes.$$Okay. And so, you all [The Miracles] were part of Motown's family--$$Yeah (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) of musicians?$$Yes.$$Okay. What was your first--$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$--was 'Shop Around' your first hit?$$'Shop Around.'$$Okay.$$Yeah. These guys, these guys had a big song in New York [New York], 'Get A Job,' or something like that. I seen them not too long ago. How did that song go? Yeah, but they had--that was a good song they had, too.$$Okay.$$Yeah.$$"You better shop around," how did 'Shop Around' go?$$(Pause) (Singing) "(Scats) Get a job, (scats)." But the other group was talking about (scats), but he was, he was a guy singing by himself. Not singing by himself, but it's a big difference between both of them songs.$$'Get A Job' and 'Got A Job'?$$Yeah.$$Now, how did 'Shop Around' go?$$(Scats).$$All I can remember is, (singing) "You better shop around." I think that was the refrain but--$$Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the part.$$I can't remember the rest of it, but, (singing) "You better shop around," was the refrain of the song.$$Yeah. I know my wife [Rogers' second wife, Joan Hughes Rogers] know it, though.$$So that, that became a big hit, 'Shop Around' (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, that was, that went gold.$$We had it at home, and everybody on the block had it in Dayton, Ohio and every other place probably.$$Yeah, yeah.$$So, so, did you--when you get a big hit like that, you know, in those days, I mean did your lifestyle change? Did you--you know, I mean--$$(Laughter) In Detroit [Michigan] it did. Because everybody went and got a car, you know. We had a little car that can't but about two people get in it and stuff, and all of that, you know. It changed, it changed our lives.$$Okay.$$But--$$Did you have to work someplace else in those days to make ends meet? Or was being a musician, a singer, enough money?$$A singer was enough, you know, I mean for us, because we was young kids and stuff.

Reverend Dr. Mable John

R&B singer Mable John was born on November 3, 1930 in Bastrop, Louisiana to Mertis and Lillian John. As the eldest of ten children, John began singing with her siblings as a child, putting on programs and singing traditional gospel tunes while her mother played the guitar. John and her family moved to Arkansas, where her brother, the legendary singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, William “Little Willie” John was born. The family later moved to Detroit, Michigan. Inspired by her brother’s success in the music industry, John started substituting for R&B singer Etta James as the opening act for “Little Willie” John’s show when he came to town. In 1956, she worked as a secretary at the Friendship Mutual Insurance Company where her supervisor was Bertha Gordy, mother of the Motown music founder Berry Gordy.

In 1958, John became the first female artist on Gordy’s new label Tamla. Although her first song, “Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That”, did not make the pop charts, it established John as a popular live performer. She sold out shows at the Apollo Theater in New York City and The Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. In 1965, John decided to change labels and signed with Stax Records where she believed her sound was more appropriate.

John’s first song under the Stax label, “Your Good This (Is About to End)” soared to number six on the R&B charts in the summer of 1966, and the following year, she released the single, “Same Time, Same Place”. In 1968, John’s brother William “Little Willie” John died in prison from unknown causes. Subsequently, John went into a deep depression. It was not until 1970, when Ray Charles offered her a job as the musical director of the Raelettes, that John continued her musical career. John was the co-writer of fifty songs for Ray Charles before leaving his organization in 1977. She then became the pastor and founder of Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles, California in 1986. John earned her doctorate in divinity from the Crenshaw Christian Center in 1993 and, in 1994, she was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

John lives in Los Angeles, California and has five adult children.

John was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.326

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/7/2007

Last Name

John

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lafayette School

Duffield Elementary School

Pershing High School

Chicago School of Nursing

Crenshaw Montessori Academy

University of California, Los Angeles

First Name

Mable

Birth City, State, Country

Bastrop

HM ID

JOH33

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Venice, Italy

Favorite Quote

By George, Let God Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/3/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salad, Seafood

Short Description

R & B singer, pastor, and songwriter Reverend Dr. Mable John (1930 - ) was the first female artist on Berry Gordy’s new label Tamla in 1958. She later signed with Stax Records, and had success with songs like "Same Time, Same Place." John went on to cowrite fifty songs for Ray Charles from 1970 to 1977. She was the pastor and founder of Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles, California.

Employment

Tamla Records; Motown Records

Stax Records

Joy in Jesus, Inc.

Fourth House Music Publishing

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
0,0:732,13:3782,46:10650,111:11370,125:15000,160:15927,171:24400,272:36050,406:47273,624:52058,737:59690,811:61184,842:62180,909:66198,956:67974,994:83098,1242:83454,1247:87815,1338:99680,1445:101770,1502:104240,1534:112005,1621:114705,1687:118760,1738:120335,1760:130844,1895:131792,1910:134399,1957:134715,1962:136453,2006:140428,2040:141036,2051:141796,2063:142100,2068:171989,2508:172321,2513:183356,2641:192150,2835$0,0:1408,36:17093,323:20250,406:20558,416:20866,421:21251,427:24408,496:31044,537:31412,542:34264,598:55548,909:67138,1088:78615,1252:87015,1374:88815,1444:102159,1590:115620,1734
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Mable John's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her mother's cooking

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes the community of Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers the itinerant workers in Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers lessons from her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes segregation in Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers the Lafayette School in Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her father's discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls the importance of music during her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her family's decision to move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Pershing High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls her family dynamics

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her aspiration to become a nurse

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her first marriage, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her first marriage, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her first husband's gambling addiction

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls working as a nurse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her and her brother's early singing careers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers meeting Berry Gordy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers opening for Billie Holiday

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls the mentorship of Billie Holiday and Ruth Brown

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers signing a contract with Tamla Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers touring with Etta James

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers touring with Little Willie John

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers transitioning to Stax Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Otis Redding's death

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her brother's incarceration and death

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her decision to leave the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls negotiating her contract with Ray Charles, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls negotiating her contract with Ray Charles, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes Ray Charles' work ethic

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her work in music publishing

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Ray Charles

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about the Fourth House Music Company and Joy in Jesus, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her calling to the ministry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls leaving The Raelettes

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her career as a minister and author

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about the movie 'Ray'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her advice to young people

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her values

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 2
Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 2
Transcript
Willie stood right there, waited 'til the red light went off and went in there, on the break, and stood in the back. And, he heard Titus Turner, who wrote 'All Around the World,' singing and he was trying to make a run and Syd kept telling 'em, said, "We want you to do a certain thing when you get ready to say, grits ain't groceries and Mona Lisa was a man." And, Willie was listening to Titus trying to make that run. So, while the break was going on, Willie walked down and said, "I'm Little Willie John and I'm here to see to Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "Sir," talking to Syd--talking to Titus Turner, "Are you trying to make a run that sounds like--," and Willie just sung the song.$$(Laughter).$$And, Titus Turner looked at him and said, "You know my song?" He said, "Well, I heard you singing it as I was standing back there waiting to talk to Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "Do you know the whole song?" He said, "Well, I know what I heard you sing." He said, "Sing it." So, at that time you know, everybody's in the studio together, the musicians--$$All the--everybody, everybody got quiet now (laughter).$$Everybody's quiet, but all the--everybody is together.$$Right.$$'Cause they didn't, you didn't do--$$There were no booths.$$No. So, they started the music and he did it in his key, did all the runs. He told--and, so, Syd--Titus told Syd, "Let's record him doing it." He said, "Well, I came here for a contract with Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "I wrote the song and this is Syd Nathan." And, he said, "What do you say Syd?" He said, "Well, let's, let's have lunch and we'll bring--we'll see if he can do it." And, that was history.$$So, he went and took a record deal?$$He took a record deal.$$(Laughter).$$Called me on the phone, said, "Meet me at the airport. Pick me up." Willie got off the, off the plane in shorts and the demo in his hand, like big like the 78s [78 rpm record], and walked off the plane. Not coming inside the airport 'cause at that time they didn't, you didn't get off on the inside. Coming down the steps, "I told you I wouldn't be back until I got a hit record."$$Wow, as he told his big sister. Now, big sister had to make the phone call.$$Well, I had to make to phone call when he left home to say, "Willie decided that he was just gonna go on to New York [New York] and make it."$$And, what happened then? What was the comments from your father [Mertis John, Sr.]?$$Well, Willie was a boy. He wasn't me. And, everybody knew what Willie wanted to do. And, my dad didn't say very much of anything. So, when he got back home, they found Harry Balk and Frank Glussman and he became, they, they became Willie's manager and my dad left his job at Dodge Main [Dodge Factory, Hamtramck, Michigan] and went on the road with Willie--$$So, now (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) until he, until he became a man.$When I got to Detroit [Michigan], I told my mother [Lillie Robinson John]. I said, "Guess who's been calling me?" She said, "Who?" I said, "Ray Charles." She said, "Well, what did he want?" I said, "He wants me to help find him a lead singer for The Raelettes. He says he doesn't have a lead singer." And, she said, "Well, what did you tell him?" I said, "I don't know anybody I would recommend to him." I said, "If they don't work out," I said, "my name would be mud with him." I said, "Now, he doesn't have this number but if he calls just tell him I'm not in, or anything." She said, "Well, you know I'm not gonna lie." I said, "Well, tell him something." I said, "Just don't give me the phone." Do you know the man called me one morning early, I was asleep. She brought the phone in the bedroom to me and put the receiver to my ear and said, "Mable [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Mable John], Mable awake up, telephone." And, before I opened my eyes to see the phone, she said, "It's Ray Charles on the phone." And, I opened my eyes and I said, "Didn't I tell you--?" And, he finished my sentence. He said, "I'm sorry darling, I know you told her you didn't wanna talk to me. But I got to talk to you."$$(Laughter).$$"I need a lead singer." I said, "I cannot find you anyone. I don't know anybody with your kind of sound. And the way you sound, I would not give you anybody that couldn't do what you want them to do." He said, "How do you know what I want them to do?" I said, "I know how you sound." I said, "I've been listening to you for years. I don't know anybody that could duplicate your sound." He said, "Well, is it all right if I just call you one more time?" And I said, "Yes, but the answer is probably gonna be the same."

Harry Elston

R&B singer Harry James Elston was born on November 4, 1938 in Dallas, Texas to the musical family of Ernestine Cooksey and Leonard David Elston, Sr. Elston grew up in San Diego, California and attended Midway Elementary School and Point Loma High School. Elston began his career in the music industry around the ages of sixteen or seventeen with the Johnny Otis Caravan. Elston and the group he was in, Cel Foster and The Audios, came to San Diego to a talent search. The group was chosen for the Johnny Otis Caravan, which included other musical acts like Etta James and Jacki Kelso. By age twenty-five, Elston began working as the limousine driver for The Temptations. In 1963, Elston formed a R&B group called the Hi Fi’s with Lamonte McLemore, Floyd Butler and ex-Miss California Bronze Talent Award winner, Marilyn McCoo. As a member of the Hi Fi’s, Elston sang at local night clubs while taking lessons from a vocal coach. The Hi Fi’s came to the attention of Ray Charles in 1964, and the following year, he decided to take the group on tour with him. Ray Charles went on to produce the group’s single “Lonesome Mood”. In 1966, due to internal disagreements, Elston and Floyd Butler decided to depart from the Hi Fi’s and along with Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Jean Love they formed the Friends of Distinction.

Originally, Elston came up with the name Distinctive Friends, but Barbara Jean Love decided to reverse the words. In 1968, Hall of Fame football player Jim Brown met the group and introduced them to the staff at RCA Records. In 1969, Friends of Distinction released their first album entitled Grazin’ on RCA Records. The album included the songs “Grazing in the Grass”, of which Elston wrote and sang lead on, and “Going in Circles.” Grazin’ peaked at number five on the R&B charts. “Going in Circles” preceded the album, and it landed at number three on the charts. Friends of Distinction also released the songs “Love or Let Me Be Lonely”, “Time Waits for No One” and “I Need You.” When Barbara Jean Love became pregnant in 1970, Charlene Gibson replaced the vocalist, and the Friends of Distinction released Real Friends on RCA Records. Another change in Friends of Distinction occurred when Jessica Cleaves decided to leave the group and joined the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire.

During the 1960s, Elston was also a prominent figure in the urban night life. Alongside, Jim Brown and John Daniels, Elston was instrumental in opening the Mavericks Flat, a well-known L.A. night club that is often referred to as the Apollo Theater of the west coast. In addition, Elston was instrumental in the formation of the N.I.E.U. (Negro Industrial and Economic Union). In 1992, Elston was co-writer of “It’s Over,” a single for Friends of Distinction. The current members of the group are Dorian Holley, Wendy Smith Brune, Berlando Drake and Harry Elston.

Elston lives in Studio City, California and Henderson, Nevada.

Elston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.325

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Elston

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Point Loma High School

Midway Elementary School

Dana Middle School

First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

ELS01

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Idlewild, Michigan

Favorite Quote

Ain't Nuttin'.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/4/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

R & B singer and songwriter Harry Elston (1938 - ) co-founded the R & B group, Friends of Distinction. Some of the group's hits include "Love or Let Me Be Lonely," "Time Waits for No One" and "Going in Circles." Elston also co-founded the Mavericks Flat, a well-known L.A. night club, and the Negro Industrial and Economic Union.

Employment

US Air Force

Kaiser Permanente

The Friends of Distinction

The Hi-Fi's

The Magic Cookie Company

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:19888,302:20293,308:20617,313:22561,362:29203,516:30904,550:37523,577:37911,582:54355,782:61831,895:70946,1036:71474,1043:73938,1094:74906,1110:96998,1466:100100,1513:100570,1519:107560,1601:108596,1615:113026,1664:139320,2051:147379,2180:153355,2328:153853,2336:159078,2341:160706,2353:163996,2375:164512,2385:168038,2498:170876,2606:171220,2615:173940,2623$0,0:2812,55:3420,63:4028,93:33500,467:34605,487:37356,515:44046,631:49707,726:64481,911:65225,921:66248,944:69368,966:69748,972:72870,1009:73320,1019:74130,1032:74580,1038:87194,1191:96302,1302:97226,1318:102686,1453:103274,1461:155081,2281:155437,2286:161118,2331:162918,2371:163278,2377:164214,2398:167382,2465:167814,2472:168102,2477:171440,2504
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry Elston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harry Elston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Elston describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes his stepmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry Elston describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harry Elston describes his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harry Elston lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Harry Elston describes his neighborhood in San Diego, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Harry Elston describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Harry Elston remembers Midway Elementary School in San Diego, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Harry Elston recalls his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls playing sports as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers the Bethel Baptist Church in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes Dana Junior High School in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls his early singing experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harry Elston describes his peers at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harry Elston remembers performing with The Belvederes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers recording with Cell Foster and the Audios

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Harry Elston remembers the music community in California

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Harry Elston remembers the popular hairstyles of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harry Elston remembers straightening his hair

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harry Elston describes the Five Four Ballroom in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harry Elston recalls joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harry Elston remembers being stationed in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harry Elston recalls his assignment to Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harry Elston recalls his arrest in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his discharge from the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers Oakland, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls working for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers living with Lamonte McLemore

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harry Elston recalls his friends in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harry Elston remembers founding the Hi-Fi's

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harry Elston recalls singing in Los Angeles Clubs with the Hi-Fi's

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harry Elston remembers touring with Ray Charles

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes The Hi-Fi's vocal training

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harry Elston recalls being arrested with his bandmates, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls being arrested with his bandmates, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes the formation of the Versatiles

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls founding The Friends of Distinction

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes the Negro Industrial and Economic Union

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harry Elston recalls serving as a driver for The Temptations

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes the Maverick's Flat club in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers his experiences at Maverick's Flat

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes his return to The Friends of Distinction

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harry Elston remembers writing the lyrics to 'Grazing in the Grass'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harry Elston recalls signing a contract with RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harry Elston talks about The 5th Dimension

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls The Friends of Distinction's early hits

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harry Elston remembers meeting Miles Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harry Elston talks about working with RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Harry Elston remembers Earth, Wind, and Fire

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Harry Elston recalls leaving RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes the Magic Cookie Company, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Harry Elston describes the Magic Cookie Company, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers Floyd Butler's death

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes The Friends of Distinction reunion

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Harry Elston reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes his advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Harry Elston reflects upon his future

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Harry Elston reflects upon his values

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Harry Elston narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Harry Elston recalls founding The Friends of Distinction
Harry Elston recalls signing a contract with RCA Records
Transcript
So it's 1965 and you've decided to put another little group together, you and Floyd [Floyd Butler] and, and some- who else was in this band?$$Well Clarence McDonald was there, he was our, he was our keyboard player and vocal arranger, and Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Love [Barbara Jean Love]. So thi- about this time this is when we were living over on, on 9th Avenue and Ron Townson [Ronald Townson] was around the corner they was sneaking and singing. And we said, "What they--you know what they doing?" But we just kind of got our little stuff together and, so, so about this time, Jim Brown, Jim had been on the scene. So Jim would come by the house, and he'd hear us singing, and he'd bring Bill Russell would come by there, Fred Williamson, all these cats you know played ball and stuff so Jim would say, "What you gona do man?" I said, "I'm trying to do this." He said, "Well don't just try," he said, "Do it." So okay and Jim said--I said, "Hey (unclear) you gonna have to pay to Clarence McDonald for rehearsal," and we didn't take no money. Okay man, so he would pay Clarence fifty dollars a week.$$So now did Jim Brown decided to be the producer or the?$$Yeah, yeah our manager.$$The investor, okay.$$Yeah, he was, he was checking it out to see how far you know if we was really serious, but you know when you start paying this money (laughter) and you know and I'd have to hound him down to, to get this money you know every now and then, but he would pay, and matter of fact Jim bought me my first Cadillac.$$Okay.$$(Laughter) So--so and then pretty soon he explained that he was starting this production company called the BBC. It stood for Brown, Bloch and Coby. Now Coby [Richard Coby] was a lawyer, a big time lawyer there 9255 Sunset [Boulevard], I'll never forget it. Rogers, Cowan, Paul Bloch was--worked for Rogers, Cowan and Brenner at that time and then of course Jim Brown. So man hey hooked this stuff up and, and we had instant publicity because he worked for Rogers and Cowan, and we would, we would fart and it would be in the papers you know.$$So was there a name of the group at this point? Was there a group name?$$We, we were--once we started P- Paul said, "Well you guys gotta have a name." So I'll never forget we was with Paul's big ole house in Beverly Hills [California] and I came up with Distinctive Friends and then they tossed it around and Barbara came up, "No, we should say Friends of Distinction [The Friends of Distinction]." Bam. That just clicked (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) It rolled better, huh?$$Yeah, it rolled better, and that's how that got started.$So th- there was this club called The Daisy, it was in Beverly Hills [California], and this, this club was the bomb. I mean Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, the Rat Pack and all them cats, Sammy [Sammy Davis, Jr.] and so Jim [Jim Brown] and Paul [Paul Bloch] they set it up for our, our showcase. So we had on these little, we had some bad little outfits some little vests and white shirts and the girls had on what they had on. So we went down and threw down. Man, they loved it. The next day I'm talking to six record companies, and Jim sent me out by myself. Not Floyd [Floyd Butler], and I, I don't know what to say to these people, man. So it was just a vibe thing, it was a vibe thing and after that maybe it was the second, I got a little chesty you know I kind of, yes, uh-huh and (laughter). Hey, we done had six record companies, you must be saying something. So went up to RCA [RCA Records] and there was this guy, his name was John Florez, he was a staff producer, but John was laid back and quiet and stuff, and I liked that demeanor about him. So I--so later on that evening Jimmy said, Jim--his, his favorite word, "What's up big baby?" And I said, "Well man I like, I like RCA. I like John over there." He said, "Hey." So we signed with RCA, now dig it, we--and here's--now at this time Jerry Peters and Clarence McDonald and Greg [Greg Poree] and all these people, you know Skip [Skip Scarborough] we're writing songs, they're writing songs for us and of course 'Grazing' ['Grazing in the Grass'] and man we go (laughter)--this is the scary part. We go--been singing with just the keyboards right, so we go into the studio. It's a booth, and what we're doing is, is you know just laying down stuff so the band you know how it is, get the feel for the stuff, but there's a hundred musicians. Man my little booty tightened up so tight boy, man (laughter) and you know these (demonstrates playing violin) you know what I'm saying and the French horns and the oboes and you know--hey, we did it.$$And they're on the clock.$$On--yeah, aw man a hundred musicians you know.$$And they're on the union clock.$$Hey man, now the arranger, his name is Ray Cork, Jr., and matter-of-fact I, I was gonna look him up in Phoenix [Arizona], 'cause both John and Ray are from Phoenix and I never met him. Never met him, nobody had met him. We never heard his music until we went in the studio, and did that album, and he th- he threw down. To this day people talk about his arrangements man.

BeBe Winans

Music producer, R&B singer, songwriter and gospel singer BeBe Winans was born Benjamin Winans on September 17, 1962 in Detroit, Michigan. He, along with his nine siblings, started singing in the choir at Mount Zion Church of God and Christ in Detroit. All of the Winans brothers and sisters were talented singers and contributed greatly to the church choir, in which both Winans parents also performed.

Winans began his career as a background singer for his famous brothers,The Winans. He and his sister, CeCe, joined the television show Praise the Lord as the “PTL Singers” in 1982 and released their first record, “Lord Lift Us Up”, in 1984. BeBe and CeCe Winans eventually recorded five albums together including the self titled BeBe & CeCe Winans (1987), Heaven (1988), Different Lifestyles (1991), First Christmas (1993), and Relationships (1994). BeBe recorded numerous solo albums including BeBe Winans (1997), Love & Freedom (2000), Live and Up Close (2002), My Christmas Prayer (2004), and Dream (2006), which features the single “I Have A Dream.” The song uses samples from the historic speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington along with Winans’ singing of some of its passages. Winans has also recorded songs with such entertainers as Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Whitney Houston. In 2004, Winans made his film debut with a role in the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, featuring actors Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. He also starred in the off-Broadway touring musical production of King Solomon Lives, A Nubian Love Story. Winans previously starred on Broadway in the shows Civil War and Don’t Get God Started and the national tour of What’s On the Hearts of Men.

In 2007, Winans began hosting his own nationally syndicated radio program, The BeBe Winans Radio Show. As an R&B and Gospel vocalist, writer, and producer, Winans has won four Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards, six Stellar Awards, two NAACP Image Awards and a Soul Train Music Award.

BeBe Winans was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 2, 2007

Accession Number

A2007.317

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/2/2007

Last Name

Winans

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Organizations
Schools

Macdowell Elementary School

Pasteur Elementary School

Samuel C. Smith High School

Beaubien Junior High School

First Name

Bebe

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

WIN06

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

I Can Do All Things Through Christ That Strengthens Me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/17/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Nashville

Country

USA

Short Description

Music producer, songwriter, and singer BeBe Winans (1962 - ) was one of the premier contemporary Gospel singers in America. Winans was the winner of four Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards, six Stellar Awards, two NAACP Image Awards and a Soul Train Music Award, and appeared in an assortment of movies, television shows, and Broadway productions throughout his career.

Employment

PTL Records

Capitol Records, Inc.

Atlantic Recording Corporation

Motown Records

Sparrow Records

Hidden Beach Recordings

Movement Group

Praise the Lord Club

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2697,39:3393,49:3915,56:7047,108:10614,207:12180,239:12702,268:15747,303:24708,432:31804,459:32224,465:34324,490:34744,496:44152,630:48268,706:48688,712:49276,721:51796,761:52132,766:55576,820:56248,829:65832,850:68660,885:69569,899:74518,950:77194,961:77740,971:82540,1030:84340,1061:85240,1075:86890,1107:87190,1112:87490,1117:87865,1123:89515,1189:94615,1286:102654,1482:106170,1534:107050,1547:108890,1588:109290,1596:112650,1713:113690,1737:114010,1742:118890,1890:119610,1904:120010,1913:127922,1989:128274,1994:129330,2009:149290,2378:155050,2488:155590,2495:161144,2541:166556,2691:167084,2700:168074,2719:168338,2724:170780,2791:171110,2797:178106,2879:179118,2893:179670,2901:180130,2907:182890,2952:192274,3125:199542,3255:203060,3275$0,0:5328,138:5846,146:7326,167:17242,355:17612,361:17982,370:29040,510:29909,521:34649,608:56458,1025:60238,1112:63514,1187:66202,1223:71540,1247
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of BeBe Winans' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - BeBe Winans lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - BeBe Winans talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - BeBe Winans describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - BeBe Winans recalls his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - BeBe Winans describes his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - BeBe Winans remembers his mother's career and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - BeBe Winans describes his father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - BeBe Winans describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - BeBe Winans remembers his neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - BeBe Winans recalls his father's friendship with Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - BeBe Winans describes the influence of his father's musical career

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - BeBe Winans lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - BeBe Winans recalls his sixteenth birthday celebration

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - BeBe Winans describes his home life

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - BeBe Winans recalls the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - BeBe Winans talks about his parents' musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - BeBe Winans remembers his influential elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - BeBe Winans recalls his academic mentors, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - BeBe Winans recalls his academic mentors, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - BeBe Winans remembers his high school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - BeBe Winans describes his early personality

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - BeBe Winans describes his aspiration to become a musician

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - BeBe Winans reflects upon his grade school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - BeBe Winans talks about his musical influences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - BeBe Winans recalls his parents' support of his musical aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - BeBe Winans describes his musical training

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - BeBe Winans remembers his family's biannual holiday concerts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - BeBe Winans talks about his family's musical groups

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - BeBe Winans recalls his move to Charlotte, North Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - BeBe Winans recalls his move to Charlotte, North Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - BeBe Winans remembers joining the Praise the Lord Club

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - BeBe Winans remembers managing his finances from an early age

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - BeBe Winans recalls purchasing his first car

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - BeBe Winans remembers recording 'Up Where We Belong'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - BeBe Winans describes the success of 'Up Where We Belong'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - BeBe Winans talks about his experiences with the Praise the Lord Club

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - BeBe Winans describes his relationship with his sister, Priscilla Winans Love

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - BeBe Winans remembers his social life in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - BeBe Winans recalls the formation of his act, BeBe and CeCe

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - BeBe Winans remembers the success of BeBe and CeCe

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - BeBe Winans talks about performing as BeBe and CeCe

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - BeBe Winans reflects upon his career with the Praise the Lord Club

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - BeBe Winans talks about his relationship with Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - BeBe Winans recalls the responses to the success of BeBe and CeCe, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - BeBe Winans recalls the responses to the success of BeBe and CeCe, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - BeBe Winans remembers recording 'Heaven'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - BeBe Winans reflects upon the support of his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - BeBe Winans describes his songwriting process

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

8$5

DATitle
BeBe Winans remembers his family's biannual holiday concerts
BeBe Winans describes the success of 'Up Where We Belong'
Transcript
One of the things, you know, we talked about the Grammy Awards and all those things, and aspiring to, to do that. One of the things my father [David Winans, Sr.] did, and you get asked by a lot of aspiring artists what to do. One of the things that was so important that I look back on it and say, my father is, you know, is due a lot of respect for was, he would take his hard earned money, hard earned money and he would put on concerts. He would put on local concerts, and we, we saw those local concerts build and build and build. Mother's Day, people would expect the Winans family going to give a family concert, and on Christmas we would give concerts, and it became regional concerts. And so, about time the national contracts came in to record we were ready. We knew how to stand on stage, we knew how to position ourselves and how to display what we felt. You know, I think it's so important that you feel what you sing. And so, my father did that. He sacrificed, like I said, they nurtured us. But other than outside of just nurturing they supported our talent. So--$$So your concerts were held every year at, was it seasonal (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Twice a year.$$--like Easter and Christmas, or?$$It was Mother's Day. You know, Easter we would--we had some Easter concerts, but Easter was most of the time we would be at church [Mack Avenue Church of God in Christ; Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ, Detroit, Michigan] and had different programs there. But we were known for Mother's Day concerts and Christmas concerts.$$And these were held where?$$These were held at Ford Auditorium [Henry and Edsel Ford Memorial Auditorium, Detroit, Michigan]. Sometimes--when we first started it was in high schools, and we just build, and build, and build.$$And you'd sell tickets?$$Sell tickets. My mother [Delores Ransom Winans] was so funny, too. My mother is the queen of worry, and what I mean by that is that we would have these concerts that at this point we would sell out all the time. And my mother--I remember one particular time, she was nervous. It was like the concert was sold out at one of the halls and she was like, "Well, Ma, it's sold out, you don't have to worry." She said, "I know, but you know, I wonder if the weather--." "Ma, it's going to be sunshine." "I know, but I wonder if they gonna really come." "Ma, when people buy tickets, they usually come," (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) They're gonna come.$$But she was always worrying for us.$$Now, was it just the Winans family that appeared on the concerts or did you hire other artists (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Most of--most of the time it was the Winans family because, understand, it was like three entities with the Winans family. There was my brothers, the older brothers, The Winans; and we were The Winans, Part Two, the younger siblings; and every now and then we would have various other gospel groups and singers from the Detroit [Michigan] area. Like, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and The Clark Sisters.$$So these concerts took place in what year? What year did they start?$$These concerts started in the '70s [1970s].$$Okay.$$I would say in 1975, '74 [1974] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So by then The Winans was a group already?$$Yes.$I remember people started calling in to PTL [Praise the Lord Club] and asking me and CeCe [Priscilla Winans Love] to come out and sing at various churches and various events, conventions, and it was, like, "Oh, man." So we accepted one and we, maybe three days before we left, we realized we didn't know any duet songs. None of the songs we had was duet other than the song, 'Love Lift Us Up' [sic. 'Up Where We Belong'] so we're like, "Oh, we gotta--we gotta create some duets." So we created some duets of songs that normally I would sing by myself or she would sing by herself. And we went to this one place in New Jersey. And right before we went on to sing, I looked at her, we were behind a--in the office--I looked at her and I said, "Okay, so you do all the talking." She looked at me saying, "No, I'm not talking, you do all the talking." I say, "I'm not talking."$$So you hadn't even discussed the show?$$Had not discussed anything. And we're going back and forth saying, "No, you, you, you." And then they said, "BeBe [HistoryMaker BeBe Winans] and CeCe" (laughter). And so we were going out there just saying, "Hi, I'm BeBe and this is CeCe, and we're going to sing some songs." That was it. It was, like, oh, this is scary.

James Ingram

R&B vocalist James Ingram was born on February 16, 1952, in Akron, Ohio to Alistine and Henry Ingram. Ingram was interested in music at an early age and became a self-taught musician, inspired by his musical idol, jazz organist Jimmy Smith. In the 1970s, Ingram began performing in the Akron band Revelation Funk under leader John Birkett and alongside Bernard Lawson, Sr. The group opened for the Ohio Players and performed with a variety of other Akron funk bands, including Axis and the Silky Vincent Group.

In 1973, when Ingram was seventeen years old, the group traveled to Los Angeles, California, hoping to find further opportunities to perform. Although the group met with some success, recording the track “Time is on Our Side” for the soundtrack to the film Dolemite, the band was unable to sustain itself, and the group returned to Ohio. Ingram stayed behind, playing music around Los Angeles and eventually performing backup vocals and playing keyboards for Ray Charles. Ingram’s career as a musician began to take off, and in the mid-1970s, he began working as soul artist Leon Haywood’s musical director.

In the late 1970s, Ingram had a reputation for his work as a studio session vocalist in Los Angeles, and soon grabbed the ear of legendary ex-Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier. Dozier offered Ingram the opportunity to contribute vocals and material for some of his releases, and Ingram’s “Love’s Calling” gained some airplay. Another musical legend, composer and musical director, Quincy Jones, heard a demo of Ingram performing a track entitled “Just Once,” and quickly offered the singer the opportunity to perform on his 1980 album The Dude. “Just Once,” re-recorded with Quincy Jones, became Ingram’s first massive hit, winning Ingram Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal and Best R&B Vocal, as well as a nomination for Best New Artist.

Ingram signed to Quincy Jones’s Qwest Records and recorded his own solo material with production work from Jones, and, in 1982, released his first solo single, “One Hundred Ways.” The song reached #14 on the U.S. charts. After co-writing Michael Jackson’s hit “P.Y.T.,” Ingram released his debut album It’s Your Night in 1983, selling 850,000 copies and working with such musical artists as Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Anita Baker, Nancy Wilson and Kenny Rogers. Ingram joined another large group of popular artists in performing on the 1985 record “We are the World,” the same year as he was awarded a Grammy Award for his Michael McDonald duet “Yah Mo B There.”

In 1986, Ingram’s second album Never Felt So Good was released alongside the singles “Always” and “Never Felt So Good.” He joined singer Linda Ronstadt for 1987’s gold-selling hit “Somewhere Out There,” and released his third album, entitled It’s Real, on Warner Brothers in 1989. The album featured the hit title track, written by legendary songwriter Thom Bell.

In 1990, Ingram appeared on Quincy Jones’ R&B mega-ballad “The Secret Garden,” and one year later released his own greatest hits disc entitled The Power of Music. In 1993, Ingram released his fourth LP, Always You and continued writing and performing individual singles throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Ingram released Forever More: The Best of James Ingram, and in 2006, participated in Celebrity Duets, a reality television program.

Ingram continues to perform annually on the “Colors of Christmas” Tour and regularly tours throughout southeast Asia, where he is one of the most popular U.S. artists to this day.

Ingram passed away on January 29, 2019.

Accession Number

A2007.272

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2007

Last Name

Ingram

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Robinson Community Learning Center

East High School

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

ING03

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/16/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

1/29/2019

Short Description

Musician, songwriter, and R & B singer James Ingram (1952 - 2019) was a multiple Grammy Award winner. Some of Ingram's hit songs included "Just Once," "Yah Mo B There;" he also co-wrote Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T."

Employment

Sharp and the G Clefts

Revelation Funk

Different Bag

Ford Motor Company

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:1308,25:2289,65:3597,78:19678,307:23981,376:26640,410:33456,561:38260,590:41704,629:47612,687:48180,692:48890,699:49850,727:57845,892:61687,933:62083,938:64343,945:66480,953:67110,967:69990,1032:70800,1051:75840,1177:80410,1303:80750,1309:85238,1444:87210,1497:92832,1527:93212,1538:97501,1604:101370,1665:101994,1675:103476,1741:106206,1790:106674,1797:111945,1897:123116,2019:127990,2123:142696,2333:146560,2410:150908,2441:152420,2470:173060,2924$0,0:18064,157:18883,168:26625,287:27475,300:27815,305:46268,567:46608,610:91980,1395:92644,1405:110555,1721:119189,1817:120058,1838:120453,1867:125430,1939:127405,1979:130881,2059:149455,2260:161516,2515:173208,2755:192053,2938:204470,3134:206345,3176:206720,3182:207620,3339:209420,3416:223112,3654:243240,3829:251570,3986:262164,4177:283120,4453
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Ingram's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Ingram lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Ingram describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Ingram describes his early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his siblings' musical interests

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Ingram describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Ingram remembers celebrating the holidays with his family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Ingram describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Ingram describes his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Ingram describes his musical interests at East High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Ingram talks about his early bands

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Ingram remembers his music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Ingram talks about his older brother's musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Ingram describes his involvement in his church choir

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Ingram talks about his band, Revelation Funk

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Ingram describes his family's civil rights involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Ingram explains the meaning behind 'Yah Mo B There'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his spirituality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Ingram recalls performing in Revelation Funk

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Ingram talks about his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Ingram recalls touring Japan with A Different Bag

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Ingram remembers his bandmates

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Ingram remembers meeting Quincy Jones

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers winning a Grammy Award for 'Just Once'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Ingram remembers working with Dick Clark

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Ingram recalls recording 'Just Once' with Quincy Jones

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his tour with Quincy Jones and Patti Austin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Ingram remembers winning his first Grammy Award

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes Quincy Jones' influence on his career

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Ingram talks about his experiences of fame

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - James Ingram talks about his children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Ingram describes his collaboration on Quincy Jones' album, 'The Dude'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Ingram remembers touring with Patti LaBelle

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Ingram recalls writing 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers working with Michael Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Ingram talks about his vocal training

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his songwriting process

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Ingram remembers recording 'We Are the World'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes his collaborations with Harry Belafonte

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Ingram recalls recording 'How Do You Keep the Music Playing'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Ingram reflects upon his international success

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Ingram talks about his tours abroad

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers writing 'The Day I Fall in Love'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Ingram talks about his Academy Award nominations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Ingram recalls singing the theme song for 'An American Tail'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Ingram remembers performing with Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Cole

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes his collaboration with Keith Diamond

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Ingram recalls collaborating with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Ingram remembers his third album, 'It's Real'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Ingram reflects upon the success of his mentors

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers his manager, Dick Scott

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Ingram remembers Gerald Levert and Eddie Levert

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his collaboration on 'The Secret Garden'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Ingram talks about his album 'The Greatest Hits'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Ingram describes his talk show appearances

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Ingram reflects upon his personal success

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Ingram reflects upon his career success

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Ingram describes his collaborations with Debbie Allen

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Ingram talks about his album, 'Stand (In the Light)'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his philanthropic work

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Ingram reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Ingram reflects upon his music

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James Ingram shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career
James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles
Transcript
When did you decide, I'm going to be a professional musician?$$A professional musician? When we had, as the band, we had, when we developed later on before I left Akron, Ohio. I graduated in 1970 [from East High School; East Community Learning Center, Akron, Ohio], but I left Ohio in '73 [1973] to come to California with my band, Revelation Funk. Well I joined another band because the other band, they were working and they had families in Akron, Ohio and they were not leaving to go on the road. So we started traveling to New York [New York] and different places and I was making like maybe $150 a week when we split up our money and we were working Monday through Saturday playing four hours, right? Okay, now in between that I got a job at Ford Motors [Ford Motor Company], where my father [Henry Ingram, Sr.] was working at, at the time, he got me a job and I made basically the same money and I was in there eight hours for five days a week so that was like forty hours and make the same money. And so while I'm doing this work, I'm thinking about music and everything and I'm saying wait a minute, hold on, I worked twenty-four hours and made the same money. What is this, 'cause I didn't know exactly about no music business and that I could make a living at it right cause Akron, Ohio was a small city and there was nothing around for me to see. Like if you're in Detroit [Michigan] and Motown [Motown Records] was there, you would have ambitions probably of you know how you could do that, right? It dawned on me, said, "I'm leaving. I'm gonna go on the road. I'm gonna get with a band." We were on the road so we formed a band. And I worked for maybe about six months. And when the people at, that was working at Ford, some of those brothers I knew, when you worked, put your ninety days in right, they was buying like Cadillac cars and a Deuce and a Quarter [Buick Electra] and all that. And so they asked me what was I doing with my money? I said, "I'm buying equipment." "Equipment?" "Yeah, I'm buying speakers and clavinet and another electric piano and all that stuff (unclear)." Say, "Man, for what?" I said, "I'm going on the road." "Aw man, the benefits we have. You going--man you ain't going nowhere." And one day they were coming in and I was leaving out. I said, "I'll see y'all later." But I left in a way that the general foreman there, that--because my work ethics were impeccable because when you went into the department you worked on the jobs. You could pick what job you want to. I could just put things like you're stamping out metal and just--you know what I'm saying? I took the hardest job in there which is on the pan line where the pans came out and you had to lift these things with somebody else on the other side right, cause I figure if I'm going to be there for eight hours, I want to do something that's gonna help me stay in shape. So I went that route until I got out of there.$At what point did you meet Ray Charles?$$That had to be in 19--1976, somewhere around there.$$And tell me about that encounter. How did you meet?$$I met him because my brother Henry Ingram [Henry Ingram, Jr.], my oldest brother was living in Los Angeles, California. And he had a friend that we knew from Chicago [Illinois] that came through our hometown in Akron, Ohio, extremely talented. His name was Larry Woods. And so Larry Woods came to our apartment with my brother and he was telling me, I need to turn you on to Joe Webster 'cause you know, he knew I could write. You know by this time I was writing songs and doing things and stuff. He said I need to turn you on to Joe Webster. Joe Webster was Mabel John's [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Mable John] son who was one of the background singers in Ray Charles' studio and he was signed to Ray Charles' label [Tangerine Records]. So Joe and I we met and we hit it off and we started writing songs together. So then I started coming to the studio and singing backgrounds with him you know. I could at least sing backgrounds you know and playing some of the instruments. But one of the tracks I had a click track and I played the drums and I played the bass and I played the keyboards. So the engineer told Ray, you got to see this dude, he can--you know what I'm saying, he's real talented and stuff. So Ray heard me and that's how I got the chance to play organ on 'I Can See Clearly' ['I Can See Clearly Now'] and 'Anonymous Love.'$$What did he say when he heard you for the first time, Ray Charles?$$He said, "Son, you talented." I said I don't know, I'm just here Ray. And, but Ray liked my personality and sometimes he would just like, he would have the engineer call for me just to be around even when I wasn't working because he--Ray was giving me a lot of information not only about the music industry but about you know, about techniques. I saw Ray Charles, which I don't know most engineers could do this. Back then they weren't cutting with click tracks, click tracks you know the drummer would listen to it and it would keep the tempo steady all the way through the song. So naturally the song would speed up a little bit you know just through naturally playing right? Ray had a track like that where he took--I saw him, supposed to be blind right, and of course he was right? The engineer wasn't even there. It was him. I was in the studio with him. And he took the horn parts and flew them over to a half inch tape right, and sent them back to the back of the track even though the track was going faster, an eighth note at a time on different tracks and he put them together. Ray Charles did that. He'd walk all over there. He'd walk out there to the mic [microphone] by himself and all that. Ray Charles not hand- he was not handicapped. He was not handicapped.$$He had a sense, he could see with his mind.$$Right. Right, I don't even know how to explain it but--$$And what did you learn from him?$$He was deaf on drummers. Your timing had to be impeccable, right. And it wasn't like I was a great drummer, but my time was impeccable. So what happened was he heard about, from the engineers, that I fixed a track that the track had sped up right. And so I had to learn where the track was, where it sped up and kept--until I got it and then I got it. So Ray had a track that needed fixed and so they called me to fix that track. So I was in there with Ray and I found out exactly where the tape, it was kind of speeding up, where the musician kind of sped up and it was kind of slowing down and I finally caught it and I had the groove right. Once we got finished, Ray said, "You know what, you did a good job, but I'm going to scrap this." He said, "We're going to cut this all over." So they had a bossa nova, a thing that had these little beats, right? And this was pre-drum machines and all that stuff in terms of the (unclear) and all that stuff. So he said we're going to cut it over. Ray went out there to the drum machine and put the keyboards down, right? And then he gave me the beat to play and I played the beat. Then Ray hummed all of the turnarounds for me to play. "(Scatting) No (scatting)," right, and we'd move on to the next one when I--until--you know what I'm saying? And he punched me in all the turnarounds. So I'm playing drums along with the track and you hear these--feels like I'm going to--you know what I'm saying, because that was the magic of recording.

Micki Grant

Lyricist, composer, writer and performer, Micki Grant was born to Gussie and Oscar Perkins on June 30, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Her mother worked for Stanley Products and her father was a master barber and self-taught pianist. Encouraged by her parents to pursue music, writing and acting, Grant began taking piano lessons at eight years old, and at age nine, she took drama classes from Susan Porché. After high school, she pursued her acting career in earnest. Moving to Los Angeles, under the tutelage of her cousin, Jeni LeGon, a Hollywood tap dancer and performer, Grant was cast in James V. Hatch and C. Bernard Jackson’s Fly Blackbird. She moved with the show to New York City, where she also earned her B.A. degree in English and theatre at CUNY’s Lehman College, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

It was in New York that the writer, musician and performer consolidated her talents. While cast in Jean Genet’s long-running play, The Blacks, Grant began studying acting with Herbert Berhof and Lloyd Richards. As a result of her stage work, she won a major role in the daytime series Edge of Night. She also began to write a musical score with Vinnette Carroll, with whom she was to enjoy a successful collaboration that included, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, The Ups and Downs of Theophilis Maitland, Step Lively, Boy and Croesus and the Witch. Grants other Broadway credits include Your Arms Too Short to Box With God in 1976 and Working in 1978. As a lyricist, Grant worked on Eubie in 1978 and It’s So Nice to Be Civilized in 1980. Her other credits in music and lyrics includes J. E. Franklin’s The Prodigal Sister in 1974 and music and lyrics for Phillis in 1986. She also wrote the English lyrics for Jacques Brel Blues.

Grant received a Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delaney in a two-year tour of Having Our Say in 1996, which also ran six-weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1998. She is the recipient of the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award in 1999 and the AUDELCO’s Outstanding Pioneer Award in 2000. In February 2005, she was honored at the New Federal Theatre’s 35th Anniversary Gala.

Grant has also garnered a Grammy for Best Score from an original cast album; an OBIE Award for music and lyrics; a Drama Desk Award for lyrics and performance; an Outer Critics Circle Award for music, lyrics and performance and five Tony nominations. She is also the recipient of an NAACP Image Award.

Grant resides in New York City.

Accession Number

A2006.095

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/21/2006 |and| 9/1/2006

6/21/2006

9/1/2006

Last Name

Grant

Maker Category
Schools

McCosh Elementary School

Englewood High School

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Micki

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GRA07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/30/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Actress, lyricist, and songwriter Micki Grant (1929 - ) was a Grammy-winning composer, writer & performer who also earned five Tony Awards. Her Broadway credits included, "Your Arms Too Short to Box With God," and, "Working." Grant received a Helen Hayes Award for her performance as Sadie Delaney in a two-year tour of, "Having Our Say," in 1996.

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:3191,31:5858,46:6242,52:7586,78:8450,108:15362,198:17378,239:35654,456:68540,881:69314,891:74146,924:81558,1006:85033,1097:85585,1106:88240,1134:88660,1147:89150,1156:91050,1166:92162,1176:97935,1213:103119,1255:103593,1263:105963,1306:106674,1318:110466,1376:110861,1387:111177,1392:111967,1404:123933,1535:124714,1547:125992,1571:127412,1595:155030,1938:168964,2130:169419,2136:170693,2154:171330,2163:171967,2171:179066,2234:195508,2549:199165,2585:200374,2602:204373,2683:209520,2729$0,0:1001,24:1729,33:3185,55:3822,64:5096,79:5460,84:11011,173:27393,319:42485,545:51831,609:52099,614:52568,622:69716,802:70131,808:70878,819:72621,844:76854,920:77435,932:77933,944:84762,1029:85138,1034:86924,1132:110196,1434:116250,1544:120225,1616:124875,1694:125400,1704:127425,1748:128400,1773:142035,1922:149149,1937:155283,2002:159809,2122:169138,2251:171720,2266
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Micki Grant's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Micki Grant lists her favorites

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

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Micki Grant describes her mother's childhood in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls her experiences of segregated travel in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Micki Grant describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Micki Grant describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Micki Grant describes an heirloom from her maternal family

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Micki Grant describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls her mother's move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes her father

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her half brother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Micki Grant talks about being a homebody

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Micki Grant talks about her mother's career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers games from her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls her Chicago community's African American leaders

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Micki Grant remembers attending Chicago's Woodlawn Union Baptist Church

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her introduction to music

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Micki Grant describes her early music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Micki Grant recalls the various instruments she played

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Micki Grant remembers her time at the Chicago School of Music, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls her cousins' reactions to her orchestral participation

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Micki Grant remembers her time at the Chicago School of Music, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Micki Grant describes misconceptions about African American speech, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes misconceptions about African American speech, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers her early poetry

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers her cousin, Jeni LeGon

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls African American television personalities

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her early musical inspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls being prevented from applying for college scholarships

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Micki Grant recalls visiting her father's barbershop in Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Micki Grant recalls her father's artistic talents

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her family's political involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Micki Grant describes her early interest in reading

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls seeing entertainers at Chicago's Regal Theater

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Micki Grant remembers movie theaters on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Micki Grant remembers Chicago's African American theater community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers African American film stars

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Micki Grant remembers meeting Nick Stewart in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Micki Grant reflects upon her education

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Micki Grant narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Micki Grant's interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls her move to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Micki Grant remembers her development as an actress in Los Angeles

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls performing in 'Fly Blackbird' in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls being cast in Langston Hughes' 'Tambourines to Glory'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about working with Roscoe Lee Browne

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Micki Grant remembers the opening night of 'Tambourines to Glory'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls touring with 'Brecht on Brecht'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Micki Grant remembers how she became a composer

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Micki Grant remembers meeting Vinnette Carroll for the first time

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her song, 'Step Lively, Boy'

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Micki Grant recalls collaborating on 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Micki Grant recalls the origin of the title 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Micki Grant recalls her early work with Vinnette Carroll

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes the impact of the musical, 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her compositions about historic African Americans

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Micki Grant talks about inspirational African Americans in theater

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Micki Grant talks about the presence of African Americans on Broadway

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her theater career in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Micki Grant recalls being cast in the soap opera 'The Edge of Night'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls the public's reaction to her role on 'Another World'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls her training as an actress

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Micki Grant talks about blaxploitation films

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Micki Grant recalls the awards she won for 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Micki Grant shares her song, 'It Takes a Whole Lot of Human Feeling'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes the musical 'Alice'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Micki Grant describes the musical 'Working'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Micki Grant remembers working with Jennifer Holliday

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Micki Grant reflects upon her partnership with Vinnette Carroll

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about the musical 'The Color Purple'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls joining the cast of 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls acting in 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Micki Grant describes her experiences in South Africa, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Micki Grant describes her experiences in South Africa, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Micki Grant describes the film version of 'Having Our Say'

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Micki Grant recalls being cast as Sadie in 'Having Our Say'

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Micki Grant reflects upon the beginning of her television career

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Micki Grant recalls her casting in 'The Edge of Night' and 'Another World'

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Micki Grant describes her family's reactions to her success

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Micki Grant recalls receiving the NAACP Image Award and the WIN Award

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls the critical reception to 'It's So Nice To Be Civilized'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls meeting August Wilson at the National Black Theatre Festival

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls her keynote speech at the National Black Theatre Festival

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Micki Grant reflects upon the importance of history

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Micki Grant describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Micki Grant describes her maternal grandmother's ancestry

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Micki Grant talks about the significance of offbeat rhythms

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Micki Grant describes her goals and accomplishments

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Micki Grant reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Micki Grant identifies her favorite roles as an actress

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Micki Grant recalls the playwrights with whom she worked as an actress

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Micki Grant talks about roles for which she was cast

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Micki Grant recalls experiencing housing discrimination in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Micki Grant recalls memorable opening nights

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Micki Grant recalls how 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope' resonated with audiences

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Micki Grant shares the song 'Fighting for Pharaoh'

Tape: 9 Story: 11 - Micki Grant narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

2$2

DATape

5$5

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Micki Grant recalls being cast in Langston Hughes' 'Tambourines to Glory'
Micki Grant remembers how she became a composer
Transcript
Right after the--when I did my first Broadway show, which was 'Tambourines to Glory' [Langston Hughes], the director of 'Fly Blackbird,' Jerome Eskow, he came opening night and he said, "I guess we just missed it, what is it we didn't see about her?" (Laughter) They didn't think I could, you know, hold the role here, but it, it's all good lessons, you know.$$So, when did you, how did the 'Tambourines' come about, that, that show? How did you get the role, do you remember--?$$My darling Langston Hughes had seen us in Los Angeles [California], and at one point he told me later he, he enjoyed Thelma Oliver [Krishna Kaur Khalsa] and myself so much he says, "I'm gonna write a show for you guys." He said he was gonna write a show for me--never got around to doing it, but anyway 'Tambourines' was one way of doing it because I had--right after I did 'Fly Blackbird' I got a temporary office job, which if I don't how many of us would make it (laughter) if that were not in the offing and then I was cast in 'Brecht on Brecht' ['Brecht on Brecht: An Improvisation,' Samuel French] which was going to Washington, D.C., and I was told that it would be there for about two weeks and we stayed eleven weeks and somehow or other I again--well (laughter) free to believe it, I have to show you the reviews myself, but anyway I, I came off very, very well in that show, and so when I had came back to New York [New York], the, the news was out and we opened again at Sheridan Square [Sheridan Square Playhouse, New York, New York], and right after that they were--started casting 'Tambourines to Glory,' and I was sent to audition, and that's when I, I--I had it backwards, I sang for--yeah, I sang for the composer [Jobe Huntley] 'cause he's never heard me sing and then when I went they were finding a script for me to read and the producer said, "What is she reading for us for? She doesn't have to read for us," you know, which is the greatest compliment anybody can pay you, you know, and of course with Langston it was just readymade (laughter), you know, the big smile on his face and that's how I got cast in that, my very first Broadway roll and that was another experience with actors that I just had admired and--well I had first worked with [HistoryMaker] Robert Guillaume in 'Fly Blackbird,' and now here I was playing opposite him in 'Tambourines to Glory,' Louis Gossett [HistoryMaker Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr.] was in it Hilda Simms was in it, Rosetta LeNoire was playing my mother [Essie Belle Johnson] and she played my mother on television later. Oh, it was just, just a marvelous cast and Clara Ward, the Clara Ward Singers [The Famous Ward Singers]. It was a wonderful cast and a wonderful time, you know.$So let's talk about you shifting from, and we'll shift back and forth, but you also became a composer and a lyricist. How did that come about?$$Well, I had been writing of course poetry since I was like eight years old and I maybe will show you the book ['A String of Pearls' (ph.)] that was published when I was like twelve. Anyway so I started--it was during that time when everybody was saying what they had to say with folk music and that was just right up my alley, you know, and I couldn't play the guitar that well but if you could get those three or four chords together (laughter), you know, and I just started writing things that I had to say, I started writing songs and then that was during the Vietnam [Vietnam War] era and a lot of people were protesting the war and actually I had--my first attempt at writing a musical was in California with Eddie Beal, and he was gonna be writing the music and I was writing the lyrics, but that never came to be, and that woman [Nora Ephron] who wrote the book has written a book called 'Take it from the Top' ['Revision and Life: Take It From the Top--Again,' Nora Ephron] and that was because of Jeni [HistoryMaker Jeni LeGon] and Georgia Carr had put me in touch with them and I had written--oh, I had written this hit song, 'Pink Shoelaces' ['Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces'] you know, and I got to meet some wonderful people having written that including Jimmy McHugh, can you believe it. I think about (singing) a million dollar baby if I--everybody wanted to know--this is a new era, this is a new time, you know, and maybe this young lady knows what it's about. He invited me to his marvelous house, it was (unclear), just to see if there was something we could do together. I couldn't believe that, I couldn't believe it (laughter). You know I was singing this man's songs when I was a kid back and here I am sitting with Jimmy McHugh. It, it and so by the time I started working on actual shows after I got here [New York, New York], I suppose you could--well, I had written for 'Bon Voyage Titanic,' but I had just written some songs for the show, it was like a revue, and I had at least three songs in the show. I was really cast as a performer, but once, once I was cast I started writing for it.

Odetta Gordon

Anointed as the queen of American folk music by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Odetta Gordon, a coloratura soprano, was born Odetta Holmes on December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. When she lost her father, Rueben Holmes, at a young age, her mother, Flora, remarried and gave the children their stepfather’s name, Felious. Moving to Los Angeles with her family in 1936 at age six, Odetta began studying classical music. After graduating from high school, she attended Los Angeles City College where she study classical opera before being introduced to folk music.

In 1947, Odetta began her professional touring in the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Her first job as a folksinger came in San Francisco, where she quickly won over audiences. In 1953, when she came to New York, Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger were instrumental in introducing her to larger audiences. In 1959, Belafonte included her in a major television special, which made her name nationally known. In 1954, Odetta recorded her first album for Fantasy Records. In 1963, she released Folk Songs, which became one of the year’s best-selling folk albums.

As an activist for social change, Odetta performed at the 1963 March on Washington and took part in the March on Selma. She performed for President Kennedy and his cabinet on the nationally televised civil rights special, Dinner with the President. Her career blossomed during the golden years of folk music when she began recording albums for Vanguard Records. Odetta has sung with symphony orchestras and in operas all over the world and has been a featured performer everywhere in the country, including the Newport Folk Festivals and in her solo concerts at Carnegie Hall.

Odetta has also acted in films such as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and has starred in countless television specials, such as BBC-TV’s Concert Special, Talking Bob Dylan Blues. She has also hosted the Montreux Jazz Festival. Having been inspired by the great contralto Marian Anderson and having herself inspired such revered artists as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin, it is no wonder that among her countless other achievements, her album, Blues Everywhere I Go (2000), was nominated for a Grammy. In 1999, Odetta was awarded the National Medal of Arts & Humanities by President Bill Clinton and the first lady. On Saturday, March 24, 2007, Odetta was honored by the World Folk Music Association with a lifetime tribute concert called, ODETTA – A Celebration of Life & Music at the Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia.

Odetta passed away on December 2, 2008 at the age of 77.

Odetta was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 17, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.038

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2006 |and| 12/6/2006

3/17/2006

12/6/2006

Last Name

Gordon

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Los Angeles City College

Belmont Senior High School

First Name

Odetta

Birth City, State, Country

Birmingham

HM ID

ODE01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

God Bless You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/31/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Death Date

12/2/2008

Short Description

Civil rights activist, folk singer, and songwriter Odetta Gordon (1930 - 2008 ) is a Grammy nominee who performed at the March on Washington. Odetta was a National Medal of Arts and Humanities recipient and her album, Folk Songs became 1963's best selling folk album.

Employment

Tin Angel

Blue Angel

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:282,9:4712,49:8614,68:22962,153:24900,171:36070,232:36598,239:51746,350:65019,475:66750,482:69315,512:70360,525:74255,549:77010,584:82150,605:84100,613:88382,646:88718,651:89138,696:90902,723:91742,738:100820,921:103775,939:104405,947:105875,963:117040,1020:117792,1029:118920,1044:119390,1050:120988,1059:122116,1072:122586,1078:123338,1087:124372,1112:130608,1174:131280,1184:131784,1189:134856,1221:135216,1228:135648,1235:136512,1249:137160,1259:140675,1292:141233,1299:142070,1311:146606,1336:147136,1342:148726,1359:149150,1364:150528,1376:159198,1432:160018,1444:160592,1452:161576,1466:162314,1476:168346,1504:175075,1532:175335,1538:175985,1551:179839,1599:182629,1648:189358,1739:190378,1756:191602,1789:193574,1819:198380,1847:198755,1853:199130,1859:199505,1866:200030,1874:200630,1883:206214,1927:207658,1952:208266,1962:209406,1974:209862,1982:210926,2000:214744,2024:217444,2053:221730,2088$0,0:3040,60:3496,67:3952,74:4560,89:5396,103:8360,148:9804,178:10792,196:11324,205:16199,237:19796,259:24916,322:25886,330:31780,401:37348,473:47449,553:47821,558:49856,575:50353,583:50850,592:51134,597:51915,615:52483,626:53051,636:53690,646:54116,653:54755,664:55110,670:55891,685:56956,710:57382,717:57879,725:58234,731:58873,742:63320,763:63620,768:66436,785:71020,826:71572,833:72308,842:74608,867:75068,873:75896,884:80430,917:83270,969:83838,975:84619,988:84903,993:85187,998:85471,1003:86039,1014:86323,1019:86607,1024:86891,1029:87246,1036:87530,1041:88950,1056:89234,1061:89731,1070:90228,1079:92358,1117:99280,1171:108774,1253:109184,1259:115744,1355:117302,1381:117630,1386:118040,1392:118368,1397:125300,1433:128470,1447:132499,1476:136240,1551:136849,1559:137632,1570:139024,1591:139981,1606:142370,1613
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Odetta Gordon's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon describes her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama and Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon talks about her mother and her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon recalls her mother supporting the family after her stepfather's hospitalization

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon describes her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon describes Hollywood's portrayal of African Americans

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Odetta Gordon recalls positive role models from her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Odetta Gordon describes early influences on her music

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Odetta Gordon describes the early influences on her interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Odetta Gordon describes her childhood personality and self-image

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Odetta Gordon describes how racial discrimination affected her self-image

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon recalls discovering folk music as an outlet for her anger

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon describes her early experience in classical music and singing in 'Finian's Rainbow' and 'Guys and Dolls'

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon recalls her introduction to folk music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon recalls pioneering natural hair while singing at the Tin Angel nightclub

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon talks about American folk music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon talks about wearing her hair naturally

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Odetta Gordon recalls folk music healing her self-hatred

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Odetta Gordon talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Odetta Gordon recalls singing at a Paul Robeson concert in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Odetta Gordon talks about seeing Paul Robeson in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon talks about playing the guitar

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon talks about her political activism at the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon describes her folk songs' political nature

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon recalls moving to New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon recalls her religious experiences as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Odetta Gordon recalls singing in 'Finian's Rainbow' and 'Guys and Dolls'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon recalls her exposure to the folk music repertoire

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon describes her social life in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon remembers being hired to sing at the Tin Angel nightclub in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon recalls performing at the Tin Angel nightclub in San Francisco, California

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon talks about singing at the Blue Angel nightclub in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon talks about meeting prominent singers during her folk music career

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Odetta Gordon recalls recording her first album in 1954

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Odetta Gordon talks about becoming involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Odetta Gordon talks about her contemporary folksingers

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon describes the March on Washington in 1963

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon describes her marriage to Danny Gordon

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon explains what kept her from reading books

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon talks about performing for President John F. Kennedy on the civil rights special 'Dinner with the President'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon talks about performing at the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon describes her experiences with record companies

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Odetta Gordon describes how she presented herself as an artist

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Odetta Gordon describes her family's pride in her career

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Odetta Gordon describes her experience at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Odetta Gordon remembers performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Odetta Gordon recalls appearing in the film 'The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Odetta Gordon talks about her interest in acting

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Odetta Gordon reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Odetta Gordon reflects upon inspiring other artists

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Odetta Gordon recalls receiving the National Medal of Arts and Humanities from President Bill Clinton in 1999

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Odetta Gordon recalls arranging Bob Dylan's songs for the record 'Odetta Sings Dylan'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Odetta Gordon describes her fondness for spiritual Christmas music

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Odetta Gordon reflects upon her future in music

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Odetta Gordon describes her recollections of past lives

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Odetta Gordon describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Odetta Gordon describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Odetta Gordon sings 'Glory Hallelujah'

DASession

1$2

DATape

1$4

DAStory

9$9

DATitle
Odetta Gordon describes early influences on her music
Odetta Gordon talks about becoming involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s
Transcript
Thinking back to when growing up, we had for our information the AM radio. No television, no, but we had the movies also. Now, on the radio, we had the classical musical station, we had the top ten popular song station, we had the church stations and gospel and we had rhythm and blues stations, we had drama, oh yes, we had drama, and suspense and stories that were written for the radio and oh, I still am a radio baby because of it to tell you the truth. And then in the movies they had symphony orchestras, they had the soprano voices, singing with the symphony orchestra or the tenor voices, so our musical supply was across the board. And then daddy [Gordon's stepfather, Zadock Felious], whenever he was out of the hospital would take us each week to the Orpheum [Theatre, Los Angeles, California] or the Paramount Theatre [Los Angeles], which was a black theater, and we would hear the big bands as they changed each week. So we grew up with a healthy, wonderful, broad bunch of music. The--I remember, oh on Saturday afternoons, we would have the Metropolitan Opera from New York [New York] and then Saturday evenings when daddy was home, we would listen to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville [Tennessee]. And when I became interested in classical music, having been influenced by Marian Anderson, a magnificent contralto, a black woman voice, and Paul Robeson, an incredible voice, baritone bass voice, black man, and I remember my getting interested in classical music and assuming the, the area of looking down on all that, that was not classical. Oh, please, oh, honey, if it wasn't classical, it wasn't--I don't know really how my mother [Flora Saunders Felious] put up with me, to tell you the truth. Anyway, so when it came to Saturday night and the Grand Ole Opry was coming on and I was, "Um-um," with some kind of attitude, years later when I started becoming interested in folk music, it is amazing how much I remember from the Grand Ole Opry shows, which I thought I was not listening to, including names of people and words to songs and whatever. (Laughter) Yes.$Which brings us to, sort of the era of the '60s [1960s] and people coming forth and then asking you to participate in larger venues, and one of the ones I would like to have you talk about is the March on Washington.$$Okay, I have to go back a bit. As I was singing with my prison songs getting, healing myself and I was singing also children's songs and love songs and ballads and things, you know, there were--I talked a lot about where the songs came from or what they represented. Now the Civil Rights Movement was on the--on the burner, all over this country. It was getting more and more together, right. There were people in different places working on their problems, then after a while there were people helping other people and joining you know, to call attention to the complaints. So as I was, was addressing social problems through my performances, these people who were actually on the firing line would then get in touch with me when they needed to bring attention to what they were doing, the work they were doing, when they needed to make money in order to make up, to mimeograph, that's an old fashioned (laughter), that's right back when they had typewriters, okay. (Laughter) So they would bring us folk music performers in to bring attention to, to earn monies and so, my stuff was growing as the civil rights was growing, that audience was growing. So they would call upon us who were socially aware and minded and so that's how I got to--because people had heard of me even though they hadn't heard me yet throughout the country because of their work with the, with the civil rights.

Scherrie Payne

Singer and songwriter Scherrie Payne was born November 4, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, to Frederick and Charcle Lee Payne. The younger sister of Freda Payne, Scherrie learned to sing and play the piano at an early age. Payne attended Crossman Elementary School, Hutchins Middle School, and graduated from Central High School in 1961. Payne earned her B.S. degree from Michigan State University in 1966.

Teaching at Grayling School of Observation, Payne was discovered by Eddie Holland of the Motown team of Holland, Dozier and Holland. In 1968, Payne and her sister Freda, already an established performer, signed contracts with Holland, Dozier and Holland’s new label, Invictus. Payne joined The Glass House, which consisted of herself, Pearl Jones, Larry Mitchell and Ty Hunter. Payne sang lead and contributed to the writing of “Hotel”, “The Fox”, “Horse and Rider”, “Heaven Is There To Guide Us”, “Let It Flow” and “Crumbs Off The Table,” the group’s biggest hit record. When The Glass House disbanded, Payne toured briefly with Charo’s Review before Lamont Dozier introduced her to Mary Wilson; Wilson then invited Payne to join the Supremes. Payne joined Wilson and Cindy Birdsong in the fall of 1973 and became known as “the little lady with the big voice” singing most of the leads. Payne was officially the last lead singer for the Supremes in 1977, when the group consisted of her, Susaye Greene, and Mary Wilson. The final Supremes album Mary, Scherrie & Susaye was released in late 1976; it boasted several club smashes, including "Let Yourself Go," "You're My Driving Wheel," "Love I Never Knew You Could Feel So Good," "I Don't Want To Be Tied Down,” and “I’m Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking”, which was their biggest hit. On June 12, 1977, in London, England, The Supremes performed their final performance. After the break up, Payne and Greene recorded 1979's Partners which focused on the writing and singing talents of both artists.

In 1982, Payne released her first solo hit, "I'm Not In Love.” The Altair Records recording featured Payne’s sister Freda, Mary Wilson, and Edmund Sylvers singing background. This success led to the recording of Payne’s 1984 single, "One Night Only" (from Dreamgirls) for Megatone Records. In 1986, Payne and the late Ronnie Phillips formed Former Ladies of the Supremes (FLOS), which at various times included Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Freddie Pool, Sundray Tucker and Lynda Laurence. In 2000, along with Lynda Laurence, Payne was a part of “Diana Ross’ Return to Love Tour”. Payne, who has also written two musicals and a number of screenplays and songs, has toured Europe and Asia extensively with the FLOS and performed on special occasions with her sister, Freda.

Accession Number

A2005.236

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/7/2005

Last Name

Payne

Maker Category
Schools

Central High School

Caroline Crossman Elementary School

Harry B. Hutchins Intermediate School

Crosman Alternative High School

Michigan State University

First Name

Scherrie

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

PAY04

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/4/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Motown singer and songwriter Scherrie Payne (1944 - ) was the last lead singer of The Supremes, in addition to having a successful career as a solo artist.

Employment

Invictus Records

Motown

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:14132,153:14516,158:31165,378:35330,435:36010,445:42458,491:43304,502:44056,511:45090,532:45466,537:46030,546:49042,572:49735,582:57204,813:58359,826:65751,959:66213,966:80185,1197:80575,1207:81875,1223:82200,1229:84540,1278:88427,1285:88822,1291:89612,1317:95695,1424:108195,1624:113646,1760:118890,1785:125694,1907:127710,1989:128298,1997:139919,2154:145025,2259:147992,2323:148406,2330:148682,2335:149027,2341:154720,2378:158882,2427:160130,2465:163250,2517:167819,2600:172343,2644:177394,2680:181390,2740:182062,2749:182902,2760:185716,2791:186236,2797:191956,2855:194140,2890:194556,2895:207292,3039:207796,3049:210127,3113:214600,3273:215104,3282:215734,3294:219594,3319:220058,3324:231970,3533:259210,3939$0,0:4446,96:7410,147:8190,159:8502,164:8814,169:19743,362:24415,453:25437,475:26751,489:27554,502:29233,541:32007,605:33029,621:36168,685:36752,694:47956,829:48964,846:52860,863:55533,912:56181,921:56748,932:58854,972:77630,1278:80138,1322:80670,1330:93603,1466:113136,1708:113368,1713:113600,1718:113832,1723:115050,1765:117660,1830:121990,1844:122310,1849:128710,1984:131270,2018:131830,2035:132230,2041:137270,2056:138056,2064:149764,2226:165360,2367:166215,2381:171380,2434:189904,2631:190236,2636:196308,2701:196932,2711:198960,2757:199584,2766:200208,2775:200754,2784:201846,2802:202548,2808:202860,2813:203406,2821:204810,2853:211110,2941:211460,2948:217340,3069:221890,3176:222450,3185:223290,3204:223920,3219:224340,3226:232466,3299:233200,3307
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Scherrie Payne's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Scherrie Payne lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Scherrie Payne describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Scherrie Payne describes her mother's upbringing in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Scherrie Payne describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Scherrie Payne describes her father's upbringing in Asheville, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Scherrie Payne relates how her father moved to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Scherrie Payne describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Scherrie Payne describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Scherrie Payne describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Scherrie Payne describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Scherrie Payne describes her experiences at Detroit's Crosman Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Scherrie Payne describes her favorite childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Scherrie Payne recalls the start of her sister, HistoryMaker Freda Payne's, music career

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Scherrie Payne reflects on why she did not sing with her sister, HistoryMaker Freda Payne

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Scherrie Payne recalls her ambitions while at Detroit's Central High School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Scherrie Payne recalls her experiences at Michigan State University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Scherrie Payne reflects on civil rights activism at Michigan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Scherrie Payne recalls close friendships from Michigan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Scherrie Payne describes her favorite teachers at Detroit's Central High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Scherrie Payne describes majoring in medical technology at Michigan State University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Scherrie Payne describes her early awareness of The Supremes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Scherrie Payne describes the beginning of her music career with the Glass House

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Scherrie Payne recalls touring with the Glass House

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Scherrie Payne describes singing backup for Charo

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Scherrie Payne describes joining The Supremes

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Scherrie Payne recalls The Supremes' tour to South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Scherrie Payne recalls performing in apartheid era South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Scherrie Payne recalls her career after The Supremes broke up

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Scherrie Payne describes performing with the Former Ladies of the Supremes

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Scherrie Payne recalls the Return to Love Tour in 2000

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Scherrie Payne describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Scherrie Payne reflects upon her life

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Scherrie Payne reflects upon her legacy and describes her screenplays

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Scherrie Payne reflects upon her family life

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Scherrie Payne describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Scherrie Payne narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Scherrie Payne recalls touring with the Glass House
Scherrie Payne describes joining The Supremes
Transcript
How long did Glass House stay together?$$Well, let's see, '69 [1969], and I think around 1972 or maybe the end of '72 [1972], Ty Hunter left us. And he went with the group called The Originals, 'Baby I'm For Real,' 'The Bells.' And of course we were all devastated. I loved Ty, loved Ty. And in fact Ty passed away in February of 1982 I believe. And I'm the only surviving member of the Glass House. Larry Mitchell died probably about ten years ago. And Pearl Jones, the other female singer and musician died, I think it was last year, of cancer. So, I'm the only surviving member. But Ty left in '71 [1971] I think, and then we got a couple other replacements in the group. But then the group went on to Motown [Motown Records, Detroit, Michigan]. Invictus [Invictus Records, Detroit, Michigan] wasn't really doing anything for us. We put out a couple more albums. And so then I--we were hardly working. So, at one point I went on the road as a backup singer behind Charo. And Caroline Crawford, who was a local singer in Detroit [Michigan] who's fabulous in her own right, she was already singing behind Charo, and she got me the gig with her, and we went on the road and came out here. In fact, Charo was still married to Xavier Cugat, and we rehearsed at his house, their house. And I went on the road--$$Now, well, wait a minute. Let me backtrack just a little bit.$$Okay.$$Now, did you go on the road with Glass House and perform?$$Yeah. We went to the Apollo at least twice. In fact, there was one story when we were at the Apollo backstage, and on the bill with us was I think the Chairmen of the Board, all the Invictus acts--Chairmen of the Board, the Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton; I think the Barrino Brothers, who I understand are uncles to Fantasia Barrino, who was the 'American Idol' winner. Let's see who else was on the show? The Honey Cone. We had a big show, I can't remember who else was on the show. Oh, the 8th Day, who also had a million seller with Invictus. Our group was the only one that didn't get a million seller, I don't know why. But anyway, Ty Hunter and I are standing in the wings watching the Parliament-Funkadelic act. And in between--you know, we did like five shows a day. It was like up the stairs, down the stairs, bam, bam, bam, starting at twelve noon until late at night. But in between shows George Clinton had gone and shaved his head, and came out in a diaper (laughter), in a diaper with his head shaved. And they just thought that was hilarious. And I remember Ty and I--you know, they were probably smoking that weed, that probably inspired him. But anyway, Ty and I stood in the wings watching George in this diaper with his head shaved. And I remember distinctly shaking my head saying, "He is going nowhere." (Laughter) Have I eaten those words many times over. I mean, he's like an icon. More power to him (laughter).$$Yeah, he was the leader of the Funkadelic.$$Yeah, that's right, that's right. Well, see back then I was such a--like those who would try to like smoke weed in my car--they called me Grandma, Grandma Scherrie [HistoryMaker Scherrie Payne]. Because I think that's the part I take after my mother [Charcle Hickman Farley], very conservative. And I was strictly against any kind of dope or anything like that. And I remember one time--Freda [HistoryMaker Freda Payne] won't admit it--but Freda's roommate in New York wrote to my mother, I think. And she said, "Freda came in and her eyes were red," and she was concerned. And I remember distinctly going to the kitchen, and mama was sitting there crying and reading this letter. And I said, "What's wrong?" And she showed the letter to me, and we both sat there and started crying (laughter), because we thought Freda had gotten into dope, because she had smoked some weed (laughter). Oh, she's going to kill me. Did she tell that?$$I'm not telling.$$(Laughter.)$And that's when I got a call one day. I was over to Walter [Walter Gaines] and Barbara Gaines' house. Walter sings with The Originals still, and they are my very best friends in life. And my mother [Charcle Hickman Farley] called me and said, "[HistoryMaker] Mary Wilson from The Supremes just called you." And I said, "What?" And she wanted me to call her back, and I called her back. As it turned out, Lamont Dozier, who was my boyfriend at the time, had come out to California on business for himself, and he had run into Mary at a party. And she told him that Jean Terrell, who had taken Diana Ross' place had just left the group, and she was looking for a replacement, and could he recommend anyone. And so of course he recommended me. And so she wanted me to send some things out--pictures and so on and so forth, which I did--and recordings. And when she called back, I think it was a Thursday, Thursday night. In fact I was over to Walt and Barb's then again. And she said that she wanted me to come out to California. I said, "Okay, okay, sure." I said, "When?" She said, "Saturday." I said, "Saturday? Two days?" (Laughter) So anyway, I did it, I got it together. When I got home, I started thinking when I told my mother the good news, "I can't do this." "Are you kidding, The Supremes, the biggest female act?" "Am I crazy? I can't do this." And my mother gave me a big pep talk. She said, "I believe in you. You can do it." So Saturday, Walt's brother and sister-in-law took me to the airport, Herbert [Herbert Gaines] and Ruthie Gaines. And that was in October of 1973, and I've been out here ever since. Cindy Birdsong picked me up at the airport. Because she had just come back into the group because Lynda Laurence had just left, who had taken her place prior to that, and Cindy came back. And we went straight to Mary's house, suitcases and all, and started rehearsing. Because we had a gig--which I didn't know until I got there--the following Saturday I think in New Mexico for their state fair. And the rest is history.$$So, you're singing the lead for The Supremes at this point?$$Um-hm.$$Yeah. So you had to sing all the old songs?$$Um-hm.$$And in addition to, I guess, some new ones?$$Yeah.$$What new records did you make with The Supremes?$$Let's see. 'I'm Gonna Let my Heart Do the Walking,' that was a big seller in the discos for us. Let's see what else. 'He's My Man,' which was big in the clubs, especially the gay clubs. I think I did three or four albums with The Supremes. And I think Motown [Motown Records, Detroit, Michigan] could have done more. Had they done more, then we would have had bigger and more hits, and the group would not have the demise that it did. There were some internal problems with the management, and I think that greatly attributed to the demise of the group. And finally Mary decided she was going to go solo, and removed herself from the group, which was fine. And we were going to continue on, Susaye Greene and myself. And then Motown finally--I think the edict came down from Diana, that's what I was told. I don't know if that's true or not--that since there was no original member left in the group, that it should just be retired. So at the end of '77 [1977], that's when the group was retired.

Morris Butch Stewart

Musician Morris "Butch" Stewart, Jr., was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 13, 1953. The third of four children, Stewart earned his high school diploma in Harvey, Illinois, and went on to attend DePaul University in Chicago.

At the age of twenty-two, Stewart and his future wife, Brenda Mitchell, began working as background vocalists for Ramsey Louis. That same year, 1975, Stewart performed in several shows with Earth, Wind, and Fire, with whom he later worked on other projects. In 1978, Stewart formed JoyArtMusic, his musical jingle production company. JoyArtMusic was hailed as one of Chicago's premiere creative houses for television and radio theme song creation, as well as advertising. Some of JoyArtMusic's more recognizable tunes include the theme song to the Oprah Winfrey Show, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show. By 1985, Stewart was producing records, as well as writing music and lyrics. In 1990, Stewart teamed up with Earth, Wind, and Fire to write "King of Groove;" throughout his career, he wrote numerous other songs for various artists.

Stewart created music for exercise videos and collaborated on a children's project, Home, with the purpose of teaching children about the importance of friendship, generosity, and family. Stewart was the owner and founder of Copia Records. Stewart and his wife also established the Art of Making Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raised money for music education in schools; the couple also raised two children.

Accession Number

A2003.068

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/8/2003

Last Name

Stewart

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Butch

Organizations
First Name

Morris

Birth City, State, Country

Evanston

HM ID

STE04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/13/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Indian Food

Death Date

5/19/2017

Short Description

Music producer and songwriter Morris Butch Stewart (1953 - 2017 ) is the president and founder of Joy Art Music.

Employment

JoyArtMusic

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Morris Stewart interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Morris Stewart lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Morris Stewart recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Morris Stewart talks about his mother and father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Morris Stewart describes his childhood community

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Morris Stewart remembers his elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Morris Stewart recalls his childhood personality and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Morris Stewart remembers his music collection as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Morris Stewart recalls his high school activities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Morris Stewart recounts his entry in the music business

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Morris Stewart remembers his mentor, Charles Stepney

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Morris Stewart recalls his advertising composing work

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Morris Stewart remembers starting his own production company, JoyArtMusic

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Morris Stewart recounts his courtship and marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Morris Stewart recalls some highlights from his career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Morris Stewart discusses some of the challenges of his career

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Morris Stewart explains some of his current projects

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Morris Stewart shares his regrets

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Morris Stewart discusses his composing work for the Oprah Winfrey Show' and the dearth of quality in music

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Morris Stewart details his favorite musicians

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Morris Stewart describes his composing work for Tom Joyner

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Morris Stewart discusses some of his current business ventures

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Morris Stewart shares his hopes that the black community will learn to nuture and love itself

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Morris Stewart reflects on his life and career