Saturday, October 27, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Marlena Shaw
Album:Spice Of Life
Jazz singer Marlena Shaw had her biggest success on the dance charts in the late 70s. California Soul was not a hit when it was released in 1969. But DJ remixes and hip hop samples have made the song a bigger hit than it ever was back in the 60s. Of course we've seen this before with classic 60s soul. She was born Marlina Burgess Sept. 22, 1942 in New Rochelle, NY. Her uncle was jazz trumpeter Jimmy Burgess. He got her to listen to jazz at an early age. Her big vocal influence was the great Al Hibbler. In 1952, she sang with her uncle at The Apollo. He wanted to take her on tour but her mom wouldn't allow it. Marlena sang with Howard McGhee in the early 60s. She worked at The Playboy Club and toured the various locations. Chess Records spotted her and she recorded a vocal version of the Cannonball Adderley hit Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Her first album was Out Of Different Bags on Cadet in 1967. California Soul is from the 1969 album Spice Of Life. The song was written by the legendary team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson when they were working at Motown. It was first recorded by The Messengers in 1967. The 5th Dimension had a top 30 hit with the song in 1968. And Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell charted with the song in 1970 after Tammi's death. Marlena says the song was brought to her by producer and Chess house bassist Richard Evans and the recording was arranged by Charles Stepney who went on to be a big part of Earth Wind & Fire until his 1976 death. Spice Of Life is still available on CD. The revival of California Soul came when Philly DJ Diplo did a remix for the 2008 CD Verve Remixed 4. Since then the song has been featured in commercials and in the video game Driver: San Francisco. A different remix was in the 2011 film The Lincoln Lawyer. Marlena Shaw worked for Count Basie from 1968 to 1973. She left Cadet for Blue Note in 1972. She had her biggest success on Columbia in the late 70s with dance hits like Better Than Walking Out and her 1980 cover of Touch Me In The Morning. Marlena recorded for Verve in the 80s and Concord in the 90s. She last recorded in 2004 and still tours. She says she was very surprised by the renewed interest in California Soul. Here's a video for California Soul by Marlena Shaw.