TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lula Reed, Another Fine Voice Silenced

She was versatile, singing urban blues most of the time but switching to gospel for a 1954 session. Reed's strident 1954 waxing "Rock Love" was later revived by labelmate Little Willie John. She briefly moved to the Chess subsidiary Argo in 1958-1959 but returned to the fold in 1961 (as always, under Thompson's direction) on King's Federal imprint. While at Federal, she waxed a series of sassy duets with guitarist Freddy King in March of 1962. Another move -- to Ray Charles's Tangerine logo in 1962-1963 -- soon followed. After that, her whereabouts are unknown.
--Bill Dahl, All Music Guide


Lula Reed, Do you know w
ho she was ? It's alright if you don't. A lot of people never heard of her; and many of those who knew her from her distinctive, flexible voice-- a voice that was equally effective and all her own, whether she was playing jazz, blues or gospel-- and big hit "Drown in my own tears" soon forgot her. Indeed, "Drown in my own tears" war recorded in 1951 and went to the top 5 on the billboard charts. But Ray Charles recorded it three years later; and now, when people here it, they think of Charles, and not Reed.

Like Big Maybelle,
Hadda Brooks and a number of other fine women blues singers, Lula was a victim of the ever-present itch of American music lovers for something new and, during the fifties and sixties, that meant mostly males and male groups like Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Litle Richard, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. They had a craving-- they had it bad, and that ain't always good-- for Rock & Roll, a bouncy derivative of the blues with a snappy beat and an intoxicating, out-of-this-world crazy feeling to it, a feeling that evoked wild dancing, a lowered inhibitions, and signaled to energetic teeny boppers that, yes, they had a music that was all their own and that, surely, they were one step closer to complete liberation old fogies like mom and dad.

Lula Reed, a great singer in the fifties and early sixties, was silenced by The Creator on June 21, 2008. But, truth be told, she was, in another sense, silenced by an opportunistic music business that so
ught short-term profits over long-term, artful substance, musical frenzy over musicality. Thus Lula's propensity for sweet, sultry ballads with a soulful voice that reminds you of Dinah Washington went the way of classic blues, folk and spirituals.

After moving from different labels and back again to the same ones, Lula, frustrated, went back to a place where her great voice and good heart would never be out of style: The black church. And the record business never heard from her again.But on the road of quality music, Lula Reed left footsteps for music lovers to follow, and, fortunately, some of that music is coming back. "Boy, Girl, Boy," a sexy duet recorded with the up-and-coming guitarist Freddie King at the Federal Label in 1962, is being reissued. But the first reissue with be Lula Reed 1951-1954 on Classics. "Drown in My Own Tears" will be reissued; and it will feature 24 of her cuts from the Ace label. And of course there are the songs she recorded with collaborator and later husband Sonny Thompson that are a part of the Sonny Thompson collections.

For more on the life of Lula Reed, check out the wonderful piece that was written by Jeff Under on Big Road Blues. Also, see the piece about her obituary in the blog Juke Joint Soul. And purchase Lula Reed's CD with Freddie King or one of the other reissues, play a tune or two and say, to paraphrase the title of one of daddy's favorite tunes, "I will remember you."

Lula Reed, the daddy will remember you.

9 comments:

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

yep i know her, but from memphis
and grew up of dinah washington and sarah vaughn

rainywalker said...

I've listened to music all my life and am now starting to hear the words. Perhaps later on a few blogs on black art?

MacDaddy said...

torrence: I know you know about most, if not all, of the artists I write about, because I go to your blog, Raw Dawg. And, oh, Dinah Washington...
rainywalker: I haven't seen any studies on this. So I could get called on it. But, in my opinion, with the possible exception of listeners to hip hop (not rap), most young people don't hear the words just the beat. But as writers, we have to hear the words too...I'm going to do a couple of posts on black literature focusing on the literary artist as a voice, leader, or advocate in the development of social history. It may bore some people, but I'm going to do it anyway. Because you're a writer, it'll be interesting to hear what you think.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there!

I saw NOTHING online to honor her life...it's a shame...thank you so much for this tribute!

I look forward to your series and no, it will NOT BE boring at all! You pull out a lot of history that many people haven't heard of who are in my age group...um... the age group that is not young but is younger than the Daddy! *giggles*

Thank you so much for your remarkable work on this blog.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

MacDaddy said...

Lisa said: "the age group that is not young but is younger than the Daddy! *giggles*"
Lisa, what you trying to say!...Just kidding. Thanks for saying that I pull out a lot of history that is missed. I think that, by pointing out this history, we gain a greater understanding of the subject. As a writer, this is important to me. Thanks for pinpointing it.
I'm coming to see you soon.

Anonymous said...

daddy, Lula Reed, Albert King, Billy Stewart, Shirley somebody. Except for James Brown, I never heard of these people. I mean, were they that important?

MacDaddy said...

anon: Thanks for the question. And I can understand you asking. Yes, they were. I wrote about Albert King blending blues and R&b and thereby saving blues. But Billy Stewart was important as a vocal stylist and songwriter/arranger. His arrangements were copied by many. As for Reed, well, during the fifties and early sixties, a lot of musicians who were important and well-known in the black community were not known at all in the white community. Lula Reed was one of those. Plus, rock & roll began to set in; and people seemed more interested in white males and white groups than black females or black female singers. Lula Reed reminded listeners of Dinah Washington, but she really had her own style and phrasing; and she was copied a lot, including by white girl groups. The Shirley you mentioned is Shirley Horn, who was considered by many to be the best singer/pianist since Nat King Cole. Not only was she copied then, she's still being copied now. For instance, when you hear Nora Jones sing, she's phrasing like Horn. And Jones piano playing is okay, but Horn was a classical trained pianist who also jammed with the best jazz players around, including Miles Davis, Coltrane and Quincy Jones, who produced one of her albums. So some of these newer artists have gotten a lot of props, but, truthfully, many of them don't close to some of the forgotten artists of the fifties and sixties.

You don't know about these folks because the music business is more interested in sales than talent or quality music.

Felicity said...

She is very beautiful!

bluesman2001 said...

Hi Daddybstrong

Nice blog post on one of the forgotten singers of the blues. I linked to your post so hopefully some more people will learn about her.

Tom