We’ve nearly made the full circle of the Astrological year, and nearly have as many mixes covering the sun signs as well. For your latest installment we have the Air Sign depicting the water bearer. There you have Aquarius in a nutshell. A Fixed flow of non-sense? No (I think). More like the constant flow of consciousness, of higher mind, is the realm of the fixed Air Sign.
We have a bevy of people well-regarded for innovators in front and behind the scenes. From Sam Cooke being the birth of modern soul music, to Barbara Lewis roller-rink-organ-penning her massive breakthrough hit and the majority of songs on her first LP to Bettye LaVette’s late career epic push into being a darling after close to 60 years in the business, we’ve got a lot of people that are unique creations unto themselves.
So sit back through 38 tunes of delight, and beam on up to a new consciousness through these soul songs.
1) The Shirelles – Around The World (1963)
Original Member of The Shirelles, Addie “Micki” Harris, was born January 22, 1940. Here we lead things off with one of her turns at the lead microphone.
2) Huey “Piano” Smith and The Clowns – Don’t You Just Know It? (1958)
Bringing us to the Big Easy for the first time on our playlist is Huey Pierce Smith. This buoyant bard of the Bayou was born January 26, 1934
3) Etta James – Can’t Shake It (1964)
The Goddaughter of Soul? The original Queen of Soul, whatever you call Jamesetta Hawkins, call her by her name. She was born January 25, 1938
4) Bobby Lewis – Stark Raving Wild (1964)
Don’t lose any sleep over Bobby Lewis, as apparently he’s still out there getting a good night’s rest despite the subject of his biggest hit. Lewis was Born February 17, 1933.
5) Barbara Lewis – Would You Love Me? (1963)
Sometimes you’re so good you never need to meet the boss. So goes the story of how Barbara Lewis never actually met Jerry Wexler while she was an Atlantic recording artist. The innovative singer-songwriter was born February 9, 1943
6) Barrett Strong – Misery (1961)
Money is what Barrett Strong wanted, so he decided to spend far more time writing songs than being the pauper that performed them. Strong was born February 5, 1941.
7) Jackie Ross – Hard Times (1962)
Sometimes you know the truth all too well far too young. Songbird Jackie Ross wrote her first single, this song, that went on to be covered by The Shirelles. Going on to fame by 1964, the “other” Miss Ross of ’64 was born January 30, 1946.
8) Aaron Neville – Over You (1960)
He’s best known for telling it like it is, and seemingly he started from the beginning doing so. The Big Easy brings us #2, Neville was born January 24, 1941.
9) Irma Thomas – I Did My Part (1962)
And here we have the Soul Queen of New Orleans. Need we say more? Irma Lee, then Thomas was born February 18, 1941.
10) The Dells – I Got A Woman (1965)
Perhaps one of the most underrated lead singers of Soul Music, the mighty marvel of Marvin Junior fronted The Dells for more than 60 years. Marvin was born January 31, 1936.
11) Jean Knight – T’aint It The Truth (1965)
She busted more egos than just Mr. Big Stuff’s. Jean Caliste keeps our Big Easy Star theme going, her born day is January 26, 1943.
12) Sam Cooke – Somebody Ease My Troublin’ Mind (1964)
I have no clue where Black Music would have been without the efforts and innovations and storytelling talents of Sam Cooke would have been. I don’t know how to honor him with short words. Samuel Cook was born January 22, 1931
13) Otis Clay – Tired Of Falling In And Out Of Love (1965)
Although he wasn’t a huge name to crossover audiences, Otis Clay left a lush legacy of Soul Music spanning over 50 years of performing. Otis Lee Clay was born February 11, 1942.
14) Aaron Neville – She Took You For A Ride (1967)
15) Barbara Lewis – I’ll Keep Believin’ (1968)
16) Chris Clark – Never Stop Loving Me (1966)
Motown’s best known “Blue Eyed Soul” Sister of the 1960’s found her accomplishments all over the Motor City Label. Still packing a wallop, Christine Elizabeth Clark was born February 1, 1946.
17) Edwin Starr – Headline News (1966)
His enthusiastic proxy-Motown sound eventually became smash moneymaking material as the 1960’s gave way to the 1970’s. As a singer-songwriter Starr made a star of a few of his contemporaries as well. Charles Edwin Hatcher was born January 21, 1942.
18) Sam Cooke – It’s Got The Whole World Shakin’ (1964)
19) Dennis Edwards – I Didn’t Have To But I Did (1966)
He had some mighty might big shoes to fill in the form of finding his way to David Ruffin’s spot in The Temptations. Delectable Dennis, however, had been proving his worth for years, first with this one-off single, and then his time spent fronting The Contours after Joe Stubb’s exit. Dennis was born February 3, 1943.
20) Shirley Ellis – Ever See A Diver Kiss His Wife While the Bubbles Bounce About Above the Water? (1966)
Shirley Ellis deserves to be known for more than just her novelty hits, and it’s kind of derisive to look at “The Nitty Gritty” as a novelty song in the first place. Ellis also payed her fair share of dues as a singer-songwriter in the industry before breaking through in her mid 30’s in 1963. She was born Shirley Marie O’Garra on either January 20, 1927 or January 19, 1929.
21) Deon Jackson – Nursery Rhymes (1964)
The gorgeous high school athlete turned tenor crooner from Detroit may have been a one hit wonder, but his message seems much needed in these times. Deon Jackson was born January 26, 1946.
22) Jackie Ross – My Square (1965)
23) The Dells – Thinking About You (1966)
24) Etta James – Happiness (1967)
25) Felice Taylor – Suree Surrender (1968)
The girl with the Diana Ross Doppleganger voice was more unique than history gives her credit for. Bay Area Native (Richmond, California!) Florian Taylor was born January 29, 1948.
26) King Curtis – Sweet Inspiration (1969)
He was heard on many records with revolutionary Saxophone parts before breaking out into recording on his own. Curtis Ousley was born February 7, 1934.
27) Major Harris – Call Me Tomorrow (1968)
We find Major Harris long before his Valentine’s Day Anthem “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” from 1975 on this playlist. Major Harris III was born February 9, 1947.
28) The Pointer Sisters – Don’t Try To Plead The Fifth (1971)
Back to the Bay Area we go for another dose of Sister Soul. The streets of West Oakland were home to the Sisters Pointer, and before Anita lead them to the charts with “Yes We Can-Can” we have their debut on Atlantic from 1971. Anita was born January 23, 1948.
29) First Choice – This Is The House Where Love Died (1972)
Can I say that Rochelle Fleming’s voice is like one of my favorites of all time? I mean like girl had to put nan an effort into her vocals, so despite her time in the sun decidedly being of the Disco era, and First Choice’s first single highlighting that, we’re throwing her in anyways. Our maestro vocal coach was born February 11, 1950.
30) Deon Jackson – I Can’t Do Without You (1966)
31) Bettye LaVette – Ticket To The Moon (1969)
A Badass never gives up, and Bettye LaVette knew she could sing everyone under the table. Her arrogance, by her own admission, oft got in the way however. Betty Jo Haskins was born January 29, 1946.
32) Irma Thomas – Think Again (1964)
33) Jean Knight – The Man Who Left Me (1965)
34) Betty LaVette – What I Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Me (1965)
35) Chris Clark – Bad Seed (1969)
36) Edwin Starr & Blinky – Oh How Happy (1969)
37) Irma Thomas – Long After Tonight Is All Over (1964)
38) Leontyne Price – Summertime (1967)
It might seem a bit weird at the height of winter to feature “Summertime” but Leontyne Price’s version(s) are among my absolute favorite, and seemed the most accessible/oddball way to end this playlist with a splashy operatic conclusion that still was somewhat recognizable. The first lady of the operatic stage (and cousin to Family Drinkard). Mary Violet Leontyne Price was born February 10, 1927.