Talk: Southern Soul takes no break during the holidays – the music just keeps on coming. I have a ton
of first time entries on my Smokin' Top 45 chart this month. Also here are reviews on some of the latest CD releases that
have made the album charts. Perhaps most significant is a piece about where we are and how we got there
with regard to the all important female solo artists in today's Southern Soul.
Betty Padgett has been in the music business for roughly forty years. She started singing professionally while growing
up in Florida, having her first album release in 1976. It has only been in the last few years, however, that her strong resonating
vocals have made their mark on the Southern Soul scene. 2006 was the year for her breakout hit with Never Coming Home.
Since that point in time, Betty has scored with several charting tunes including Sneaking Around, I Made It, Old Man
Young Man and You Made My Day.
Betty's latest just released, I Didn't Take Your Man (You Gave Him To Me) on the Brimstone label is her
fourth album drop since 2004 and her strongest end-to-end effort to date. Upbeat grooves include Nobody Like You, He
Do Things Your Money Can't Do, Do It In The Name Of Love, Feelin Real Good and At The Downbeat. Mid
tempo joints with a whole lotta bounce: I'm Available, Sorry (We Couldn't Make It Work), I'm A Brand New Me as
well as the title track. A slow and low track that is just slammin' is Your Time To Cry. There is quite a bit
of volume in the rhythm tracks on most of the album but Betty has the vocal strength to sing with and through them with relative
ease. A stellar release that debuted at #8 on Blues Critic's latest Top 40 Albums Chart!
Ah yes, Mr. Sam. An accomplished and versatile musician who has written or co-written and/or
produced and arranged several tunes for artists in recent years: The Bar-Kays (What Goes In Da Club Stays In Da Club, Is The
Party Tight, My Everything, Let's Get Bizzy), the late J. Blackfoot (Same Woman, I'm Just A Fool For You), Archie Love (Loving
On Borrowed Time, One More For The Lonely), Lacee (Ooh Wee), Jerry L (Daily Love, Girls In Da Hood), O.B. Buchana (That Thang
Thang). Sam has also had three previous album releases of his own material since 2007 with charting tracks such as 12 Steps
4 Cheaters, Dirty South Steppin', Voicemail and Put Yo Foot In It . Sam was voted
as the Best New Male Artist in Southern Soul for the year 2007.
Moving over to Ecko Records for his latest album, Just Like Dat, was released in November.
The hard driving title track has been popping up on the charts as well as the bluesy shuffle entitled Cheatin'. The extended
range found in Bring It Back may very well be the best example of Sam's vocal talents. I also like the pure soulfulness of
Certified Lady and the steppin' groove Down At Cee Cee's. O.B. Buchana and Archie Love provide strong background vocals on
Good Good Love. Ten tracks in all, another strong production effort from John Ward at the Memphis based house of Southern
The latest soulful
samplings from Lina is a prime example of how a mainstream R&B style singer can sometimes cross over into Southern Soul. Lina, who was born Shelina Wade in Denver, Colorado, got her start by composing a
song (Ain't Nothin' Like A Jones) for
R&B singer Tyrese's debut self-titled album in 1998. She was signed by Atlantic Records in 2000, releasing her first album,
Stranger On Earth, the next year. It
was rated as one of the Top 10 R&B albums of 2001 by Billboard magazine. A
couple of years later, Lina created her own label, Moodstar Recordings, releasing self-penned compositions on The Inner Beauty Movement in 2005 and Morning Star in 2008. The former included a solid duet, Around The World, with Anthony Hamilton.
Lina's entry point to Southern Soul was a stellar single in 2010, I Won't Let My Baby Down (My Man), which was recorded at least a year
earlier, receiving almost immediate radio air play once it broke. The tune is included on her latest album, the highly acclaimed
Love Chronicles Of A Lady Songbird.
Lina also does a righteous job on the Jackie Moore written Precious Precious, which was Jackie's first big hit forty two years ago. I'm digging the mellow old school
grooves of Love (Live) and the girl
group sound of Other Girls. The slow
dancer I Won't Go Down stands up strong
as an indication of Lina's true vocal talent. For fifteen years, she has been classified as R&B with some neo-Soul and
hip/hop in the mix. Perhaps Southern Soul is the musical home Lina has been seeking all along!!
'Total Package Band has been together for 18 years playing R&B,
Old School, Motown, and Beach music for real music lovers across the southeastern, and northern United States and Europe'.
Taken from their website, the above statement indicates that this high energy band, based in Atlanta, can really turn
it out. With two alternating female lead singers (Vernay Jackson and Phyllislorena Smiley) and a horn section, Total Package
Band hits the stage hard and doesn't slow down.
latest album, T's Groove, was released this past fall on the Wilbe Records label. The first hit out of the shoot
has been Lifestyles Of The Poor And Unknown, a mellow mid-tempo groove written by the one and only William Bell.
A kicking version of Babysitter, made popular many years ago by Betty Wright, stands up strong here. Another
killer cover is Girls Night Out, co-written by Bell and Jacqueline Harrison and previously released by Harrison
as Jacquel in 2003.The band takes us through some strong funky soulful grooves on the album title track as well as Them
Changes and Seven Day Lover. There is a bit of hard edge
to the lead vocals of Jackson on Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen and Smiley on Playing Hard
To Get. The two ladies compliment each other very well when singing together. I can't stop listening to this album,
it is just full of great straight ahead Soul music!
The Ladies of Southern Soul
Sometime last year, there was a good article in Daddy B. Nice's column regarding the difficulties that our female artists
have in making it in Southern Soul, and the music industry in general for that matter. Certainly agreed, there have been several
that have tried it over the last several years and are no longer active, but there are many more who have persevered. There
are also some that still perform in their respective locales on occasion but no longer record, therefore, they get very little
Fortunately, we still have the well known mainstays – the core of ladies who have been the backbone of the female
presence since the beginning of what we now call Southern Soul. I am talking about matriarchs such as Barbara Carr, Denise
LaSalle, Shirley Brown, Dorothy Moore, Millie Jackson and Lynn White. I would think I should also include Peggy Scott-Adams
in that group as well. All of these ladies got their start in the old school era of Soul music that dominated the '60's and
'70's. They faced and overcame the often biased opinions and roadblocks along the way in the industry. We have also had several
female singers over the years heavily steeped in Blues that have been right on the edge of Southern Soul. Trudy Lynn, Francine
Reed, Ruby Andrews, Sandra Hall and the late Keisa Brown, as examples, have all crossed over at times.
Following those legendary pioneers there was a brave handful that broke in the Southern Soul market ten to fifteen
years ago and are still getting it done. Big Cynthia Walker, Pat Brown, Toni Green, Vickie Baker, Sheba Potts-Wright and Stephanie
McDee are the names that come to mind. The late Jackie Neal in this group was also a huge influence in the business until
her life was tragically ended in 2005.
In more recent years (particularly since 2005-06), there has been an explosion of female artists (which is consistent
with the overall growth of genre) to establish themselves in the world of Southern Soul. The list is long (and I apologize
if I left anyone out): Nellie 'Tiger' Travis, Betty Padgett, Joy, Roni, Stephanie Pickett, Karen Wolfe, Monique Ford, Lacee,
Pat Cooley, Lady Audrey, Ms. Jody, Sweet Angel, Diedra, Bobbye 'Doll' Johnson,
Little Kim Stewart, Lola, Ms. Monique, Uvee Hayes, Miz B, Michele Miller, Bertha Payne, Raine, Ladi Kandhi and Chandra Calloway. Now not all of these ladies are young (Soul Dog ain't calling nobody out as being
old!), but they are all young at heart and in spirit! Most if not all keep right on plugging with a dogged determination.
There is another newer group of ladies stepping into the business that are coming on as well: LGB, Gina Brown, Lina,
Jesi Terrell, Falisa Janaye, Ms. MeMe, T. Honey Brown, Margo Thunder, Queen Emily, Katrenia Jefferson, Adrena, Monro Brown, Jureesa McBride, Val McKnight, Angel
Sent, Ms. Charli, The Real Brown Sugar, Equanya, Avana, Greta Prince and Sharnette Hyter (again, I apologize for any omissions)
are all potential up and comer names in the industry. Here's hoping all the female
artists that want to be a part of the ever growing genre of Southern Soul are able to stay encouraged, get the fan and industry
support they need and keep right on rolling.
Soul Dog’s Smokin' Top 45 Southern
1) Move Somethin' – Certified Slim
2) Still Strokin' – Ms. Jody *
3) Soul School – Mr. David
4) Lifestyles Of The Poor And Unknown – Total Package Band *
5) Shake – Ricky White *
6) I'm Goin' Back – Donnie Ray
7) Staying In Love With You – Ghetto Cowboy
8) Move Something – Lacee
9) Good Motor - LJ Echols
Dirt Road Double Wide – Pat Cooley *
Meat On Dem Bones – Sir Jonathan Burton *
I've Done All I Can Do – Sheba Potts-Wright
Mr. Telephone Man – O.B. Buchana
Lookin' For A Country Girl – Bigg Robb
Prescription For My Love Addiction – Lady Audrey *
Club In Tha Woods – Avail Hollywood *
Love Thief – Sweet Angel
Get You Some Business -
Anthony Watson *
I'll Always Love You But I Won't Always Be Your Fool - LGB *
Swing It – Lomax
I Can't Wait – Moses Blu*
I'm A Lady – Gina Brown *
Grown Man – Lenny Williams
Using Me – Jeff Floyd
Love Mechanic - Jesi Terrell
You Can't Watch Your Wife –
RB & Company *
Not Good Enough To Marry – Peggy Scott-Adams
Back In The Day Cafe – Andre Lee
I'm Loving You More Every Day – Leela James *
You Fooled Me This Time - T. Honey Brown
Country Boy - Sir Charles Jones
We Gonna Party Tonight - T.K. Soul
Nobody But You – Betty Padgett *
Not As Sweet As You – Willie West
Love (Live) – Lina *
You Ain't No Player – Karen Wolfe
Just Like Dat – Mr. Sam *
It's Saturday Night – Roni
I Want It – Leroy Allen *
Feels So Good - Simone De
Chuck Strut – Chuck Roberson
You're The Kind Of Girl – Lee Fields & The Expressions
Thinkin' About You – Carl Sims
Party Til The Break Of Dawn – Joy *
Call Me Big Daddy – Charles Stallings *
* - first