14 JUN 13 ANNE FARNSWORTH
Rhythm and blues singer Shirley Brown scored big with her first single, 1974's "Woman To Woman," the title track from her first album which, amazingly for a debut, reached the Top 20 on the Pop charts and #1 in R&B. And Stax recently re-released Woman To Woman in vinyl format.
A big hit for the struggling Stax label, "Woman To Woman" struck a nerve with female listeners, opening with a spoken section where Brown calls a number she found in a pocket of her "old man's" pants. The single was so popular it inspired a response release by singer Barbara Mason two years later. Mason's version used Brown's original spoken introduction, but heard over the telephone as the other woman gives her side of the story. "Woman To Woman" later became a country hit for Barbara Mandrell and was also covered by Jewell in 1994 for the soundtrack to Murder Was The Case.
At the age of 14, Brown was singing in a club in Illinois when she was discovered by Blues legend Albert King. She'd been singing in church since she was nine, developing a gospel-honed voice and style similar to Aretha Franklin's. After leaving Stax, she went on to record for various labels, including Arista and Fantasy. Brown remains a popular performer on the R&B circuit, a niche artist with an enthusiastic fan base.
On ballads like "It Ain't No Fun" and "Stay With Me," Brown's church roots are on full display and her voice soars over the tight grooves of Stax's stellar studio musicians, backup singers and arrangers. "Between You And Me" burns with a funky Wurlitzer keyboard in the rhythm section.