Spotlight on: 'Barbara Lewis'
Barbara Lewis (born February 9, 1943) is an American
singer and songwriter who is of Mixed-Race Lineage and
whose smooth style influenced rhythm and blues (R&B).
It has been said that the Pop-Soul sound simply
"doesn't get much better than Barbara Lewis" --
whose croon took `Hello Stranger' to #3 in 1963.
Born and raised in Salem , Michigan , near Ann
Arbor , Barbara had been writing songs since
the age of nine, and began recording as a
teenager with producer Ollie McLaughlin,
(a Disc Jockey Ann Arborradio station WHRV, later
changed to WAAM,the Capitols, and Deon Jackson).
Lewis' first single release in 1962, the
uptempo `My Heart Went Do Dat D'a did not chart
nationally but was a local hit in the Detroit area.
Lewis wrote all of the songs on her debut
LP (including the hit `Hello Stranger'), and
confidently handled harmony soul numbers
(some with backing by the Dells) and more pop-savvy
tunes, some of which, like "Hello Stranger," were
driven by an organ and a bossa nova-like beat.
Though her follow-ups did not have
the same success, her song `Someday'
'We're Gonna Love Again' was covered by
The Searchers for a British Invasion hit.
In the mid-'60s, she began doing some recordings in
New York City, with assistance from producers like
Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler, that employed more
orchestral arrangements and pop-conscious material.
The approach clicked, both commercially and artistically:
`Baby I'm Yours', which was written by Van McCoy,
and `Make Me Your Baby' were both big hits, and both
among the best mid-'60s girl group style productions.
Lewis cut an album in the late '60s for Stax
(on the Enterprise subsidiary) that, as one
would expect, gave her sound a grittier approach,
---- without compromising the smooth and
poppy elements integral to the singer's appeal.
It passed mostly unnoticed, and after its lack of
commercial success, Lewis began to withdraw from
the music business, after making a few more singles.
She received the Pioneer Award from
the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.
The Impact of Barbara Lewis on the Music World
The "beach music" scene of the Carolinas
remains a bastion of appreciation for Lewis'
records, which continue to enjoy popularity and
airplay there decades after their original release.
However, over the next decade, a number of other
artists had success with Lewis' songs, most notably
Yvonne Elliman, who made the U.S. Top 20
(and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart) and the
UK Top 30 with her version of `Hello Stranger' in 1977.
In Canada , Suzanne Stevens had a hit in 1975
with a disco version of `Make Me Your Baby'.
Cover versions of Barbara Lewis' tracks continue
into the new millennium with the Arctic Monkeys
including a version of `Baby I'm Yours' as a B-side to
their 2006 single, `Leave Before The Lights Come On'.
Pictures of `White-faced' coverings of Barbara
Lewis albums made during her musical career:
(NOTE: The `White'-facing of record album covers was
a rather racist practice that was often decided upon by
those who led the music industry in what they claimed
was their attempt to appeal to mainstream audiences
yet -- their decisions always seemed to lead to a
denial of non-White artists having the right to see
ever themselves reflected within their own work.)
http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/1291/Barbara_Lewis_a_smooth_singerSun Mar 18, 2007 1:18 pm"multiracialbookclub" <soaptalk@...>multiracialb...