One of my favorite styles of mixes to create is to jump around throughout sub-genres and eras of female singers. Probably the majority balance of the things I’ve uploaded to Mixcloud are in this bag. Since 2015, I’ve jumped from the swinging soul of 1965, through the Mid 1970’s and then back as far as 1961.
Now, I’m going to press a little deeper into the past, into the late 1950’s. In the post-explosion of Rock & Roll, a number of characters in the pre-Girl Group world jostled for attention alongside male artists on the airwaves. Some stalwarts, like 30 somethings Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Eartha Kitt tried on Bobby Socks and Poodle Skirts to tap into teen markets before embracing mature sounds and big commercial hits at the end of the decade.
Singers a half generation older like Carmen McRae and Ella Fitzgerald went for full fledged adult pop, while singers a half generation younger like Della Reese and Ethel Ennis straddled the lines between upcoming birth of R&B and Soul as we knew it in the 1960s in the hands of Mary Wells and Dionne Warwick. Even younger than that, there were the slew of women cutting straightforward blues that would evolve into Soul, and become beacons in the Top 40 in the next decade in the form of teens Etta James, Baby Washington and Betty Everett.
What I strive to do here is show the inherent variety of singers that have influenced the women that land on the Mixclouds of femme soul I’ve posted here. Although many of our best remembered groups and soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s remember The Chantels or The Bobbettes as huge influences, they also remember a number of women that took to the stage as soloists.
Here, I focus on the soloists in the spotlight, in a time and era at the genesis of the civil rights era and the burgeoning market of television, some of these women braved the rigors and indignities of both being Black and Female artists in a world none too ready to openheartedly receive their talents.
From 60 years on, we hear these women bridge the past of Jazz, Blues and Gospel and give birth to the soul music that we have come to love. From this unheralded generation, I hope this opens the door into a forgotten era of music.
2) Irma Thomas – (You Can Have My Husband) But Don’t Mess With My Man