Jeanette “Baby” Washington “Medicine Man” (Neptune 120, 1960)

Jeanette “Baby” Washington “Medicine Man” (Neptune 120, 1960)

baby-washington2It doesn’t seem to be too spooky of a Friday the 13th, but in the depths of Scorpio Season, we do have a birthday wish to give to an unheralded soul legend. Born 75 years ago as Justine Washington, for 60 years, Baby Washington has been delighting audiences with her otherworldly rich and deep alto. Starting off as a Co-lead singer of The Hearts, she would embark on an extensive solo career that put her at the forefront of trends of Soul Music, if not always on the top of the crossover hit parade.

She established herself with a Pair of R&B Top 30 hits in 1959, and slowly worked her way into the Billboard Hot 100 throughout the Early 1960s. Although she consistently was able to enter items into either charts, none of them really broke any higher than the Top 40 placement of her 1963 hit record “That’s How Heartaches Are Made.” One can chalk elements of her lack of crossover appeal back to her amazingly distinct voice.

I’ve gone with featuring something a bit more spooky and Scorpionic for her birthday. From late summer of 1960, we have her addition to the catalog of “Doctor Of Love” themed songs that have been R&B staples since Black musicians have been recorded. This slinky number with “Fever” overtones has all of the elements of being a charted single, but due to the small scope of her label of the time, it didn’t get further than her immediate East Coast fanbase. Thankfully, from this point onwards, there’d be many more classics from Baby.


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