Judy Clay and Billy Vera “Reaching For The Moon” (Atlantic 2654, 1969)

Judy Clay and Billy Vera “Reaching For The Moon” (Atlantic 2654, 1969)

maxresdefault (3)It’s oft overlooked that alongside the first romantic Interracial Television kiss between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner on Star Trek in 1968 that Judy Clay and Billy Vera did so much on Vinyl back in 1967. It was equally rare to cross racial romantic lines in Music, and the duo of Dionne Warwick’s adopted sister and Blue Eyed soul Singer-songwriter Vera was the first example in popular culture with their hits “Storybook Children” and “Country Girl – City Man.” The second single broke into the Top 40 before Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers asked if mothers knew about them.

Although the earlier singles were just as heavy handed as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner with their love conquers all racial unity messages, they were pop culture touchstones in the era of Loving Vs. Virginia and the 2nd half of various Civil Rights battles of the late 1960’s. It also put an interesting contrast to the more directly romantic nature of Judy’s soon-to-be-concurrent duets with William Bell. The interesting relationship between Stax and Atlantic allowed Judy to have both hits, duets and solo recordings, with both labels through 1970.

In response to the more straightforward love stories of her William Bell duets (notably the super popular “Private Number”), Atlantic tried once more with the Billy Vera-Judy Clay paring. Their last single, more aspirational with a smaller dosage of schlock, is perhaps their finest joint effort. Unfortunately, unlike their 3 previous efforts together, it didn’t exactly find its way to the charts, despite being released in conjunction with the first human landing on the moon.

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