Sheila Ferguson “Heartbroken Memories” (Swan 4234, 1965)

Sheila Ferguson “Heartbroken Memories” (Swan 4234, 1965)

sheila_645Sheila Ferguson is one of the most heavenly voices of the girl group era. It is to a lot of surprises that she didn’t find her greatest success as a soloist or for the majority of the Classic Girl Group era, but in the 1970’s. However, she had worked long side by side with and within The Three Degrees, releasing 4 singles alone in 1965. Today we celebrate her 68th Birthday with the final of those singles.

Surprising again, as some very distinct paths were tried with Sheila all the way through 1965, and “Heartbroken Memories” the final entry from December of ’65, decidedly had a forward looking danceable darkness, none unlike The Supremes “My World Is Empty Without You.”

It came from the joint pen of Richard Barrett and Kenny Gamble’s partner Leon Huff. Huff did indeed cut his teeth on many a boundary blurring girl group classic before establishing himself as a premiere producer of Philly Soul shortly after these sessions. You can hear some of the elements coming together alongside some dalliances that absorb all that was going on in music in 1965.

Maybe it was the small Swan label, maybe the bulk of her solo recordings should have just been labeled as Three Degrees records, considering a hefty portion of the background chores were done with her eventual group mates, and she often rounded out the sound on their recordings as well. Despite these fine efforts neither Sheila nor The Three Degrees had more than regional hits with their 1965 output. Whatever the reason is, this is the favorite of many a Northern Soul night, and is a perfect chapter closer in her brief solo debut year of 1965.


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