The talents of many African American women in the arts has long been hidden behind the scenes as history marches on further down the line. One major mover and shaker you may have never heard of is Rose Marie McCoy. Single-handedly she’s one set of hands and one voice that is possibly more responsible for the advances and opportunities women held in the music business in the last 70 years.
Born in Oneida, Arkansas on April 19, 1922, she started her show business career at the age of 20. As a nightclub act, and eventually a recording artist, she made her way from sea to shining sea, California to Canada and beyond for the better half of the 1940’s. The early 50’s however brought a shift towards sitting down at the Piano and working out lyrics and melodies herself. She soon had her first major hit with Big Maybelle. The now classic “Gabbin’ Blues” sailed into the R&B Top 5, leading the way for more opportunities to place tunes with increasingly bigger names.
The thing to note with Rose Marie’s career is that she turned over charming tunes to a heavy bevy of hitmaking artists from across all spectrums of the stylistic dial. A quick perusal of the tracklisting below starts with big names of the 1950’s, from Sarah Vaughan, Eartha Kitt and while not listed, her songs went to names like Elvis and Roy Orbison as well. As the 1950’s became the 1960’s, her reputation as peerless in her field didn’t diminish, and stars in the making from Jerry Butler, Patti Drew to Aretha gladly took to the Rose’s magic touch with the melody.
This reputation for stellar talent allowed Rose Marie to remain an independent artist for her whole life. She avoided being shackled to many a major record label, publishing house or production company. All the while, during her lifetime, she churned out more than 800 songs for people to record. Although the bulk of her most famous work of the 1950’s isn’t as well recognized today, she still stands as one of the pillars of modern popular music.
As we approach what would be her 97th birthday, I hope that you revive the spirit of a pioneer, and remember there’s always a road to pursue your passions.
- Jo Stafford – What A Feeling
- Eartha Kitt – My Heart’s Delight
- Sarah Vaughan – True Believer
- Little Willie John – Uh, Uh Baby
- Big Maybelle – One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show
- Nappy Brown – Sitting In The Dark
- Annisteen Allen – No More Lovin’
- Ruth Brown – If I Had Any Sense
- Ernestine Anderson – The Gypsy Goofed
- Nat King Cole – If I May
- Damita Jo – In My Heart
- Linda Hopkins – Little By Little
- Zabethe Wilde – Oh, What A Feeling
- Varetta & The Thomases – Fly By Night
- La Vera Johnson – Coward
- The Shirelles – I Do The Same Thing Too
- LaVern Baker – I Didn’t Know I Was Cryin’
- Carl Hall – What’s Come Over You?
- Elaine Dunn – If My Teardrops Could Talk
- Joe Williams – I’ll Belong To You
- Ruby & The Romantics – Remember Me
- Dottie West – Give Him My Love
- Brook Benton – Please, Please Make It Easy
- JoAnne Courcy – My Poor Broken Heart
- Patti Drew – I Can’t Shake It Loose
- Jerri Michaels – Give It All To Me
- The Inspirations – Touch Me, Hold Me, Love Me
- Freddie Scott – I’ll Be Gone
- Darrell Banks – I’ve Got That Feeling
- Sari & The Shalimars – Too Anxious
- The Drifters – Still Burning In My Heart
- Carolyn Franklin – I Can’t Love Without You
- Parrish Broxton – The Thrill Of Loving You
- The Realistics – If This Ain’t Love
- Amen Corner – Our Love Is In The Pocket
- Barbara Lewis – I Remember The Feeling
- Brenda Jo Harris – Love Is Like A Hurricane
- Etta James – Ease Away A Little Bit At A Time
- Aretha Franklin – Pitiful
- Lee Williams & The Symbols – I Love You More