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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Barbara Lewis...........

Barbara Lewis

Barbara Lewis (born February 9, 1943), is an American singer and songwriter whose smooth style influenced rhythm and blues.

Lewis was born in Salem, near Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was writing and recording by her teens with record producer Ollie McLaughlin (a black DJ at Ann Arbor radio station WHRV, now WAAM, who is also credited with discovering Del Shannon). 

Lewis' first single release in 1962, the uptempo "My Heart Went Do Dat Da," did not chart nationally, but was a local hit in the Detroit, Michigan area. She wrote all of the songs on her debut LP, including the hit "Hello Stranger" which reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and featured extensive use of the Hammond organ. Lewis had moderate follow-up hits with "Straighten Up Your Heart" (#43) and her original "Puppy Love" (#38) before Bert Berns produced her million-seller "Baby I'm Yours" (U.S. #11), written by Van McCoy. Berns also produced the followup "Make Me Your Baby" (U.S. #11) which had originally been recorded by the Pixies Three, and Lewis' final Top 40 hit "Make Me Belong to You" (#28 in 1966), written by Chip Taylor and Billy Vera.

At the end of the decade, she released a grittier-sounding album on Stax Records, and after its lack of commercial success, she began to withdraw from the music industry.

However, over the next decade, a number of other artists had success with Lewis' songs. Her own composition "Hello Stranger"- which had been remade in 1966 by the Capitols – was a regional hit in 1973 as remade by Fire & Rain and in 1977 Yvonne Elliman's version reached the US Top 20 and the UK Singles Chart Top 30: Elliman's version also topped the US Easy Listening chart for four weeks. In 1985 Carrie Lucas' remake of "Hello Stranger" was a Top 20 R&B hit and in 2004 Queen Latifah remade "Hello Stranger" for her The Dana Owens Album.

"Baby I'm Yours" charted in versions by country singer Jody Miller and Debby Boone (the B-side of her single "God Knows"). 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."
In 1995, Lewis' "Baby I'm Yours" was featured on the soundtrack for the film, The Bridges of Madison County. She received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. 

The backup group on many songs from the album Hello Stranger – including the title cut – are The Dells. 

Lewis is also known to have dined with Sharon Tate, an actress who was brutally murdered a few hours later along her four friends by Charles Manson's Family followers at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon.

A voice soft as of my favourite singers..........enjoy. :)

Ask the lonely
Baby I'm yours
Baby that's a no no
Baby what you want me to do
Break away
But you know I love you
Come home
Do I deserve it baby
Don't forget about me
Girls need loving care
Hello stranger
How can I say goodbye
How can I tell
I belong to you
I don't want to cry
If you love her
Just the way you are today
Love makes the world go 'round
Make me belong to you
Make me your baby
My heart went Do Dat Da
Only all the time
Sho-Nuff (it's got to be your love)

Fool, fool, fool
I remember the feeling
I say love
I'll keep believin'
I'll make him love me
I'm so thankful
It's not unusual (YouTube rip from "Shindig" 1965)
My mama told me
Oh be my love
Puppy love
Pushin' a good thing too far
Slip away
Snap your fingers
Someday we're gonna love again
Spend a little time
Stand by me
Stop that girl
Straighten up your heart
Thankful for what I got
That's the way I like it (I like it that way)
Think a little sugar
Why did it take you so long
Windmills of your mind
Workin' on a groovy thing
You made me a woman

Another good article:

In the summer of 1963, a very smooth and sexy piece of music was being heard on the radio that was also rising on the pop charts.  The name of the tune was “Hello Stranger” and it was written and performed by a 20 year-old named Barbara Lewis.  The music was distinctive for its time, in part because it couldn’t be easily characterized.  Lewis’s style was smooth and silky, and might be called “smooth jazz” or “smooth R& B” by some.  But in the early 1960s, the sound found its mark and rose on the charts, as Lewis would turn out other tunes in a similar style over the next few years.
Barbara Lewis was born in February 1943 in rural Salem, Michigan, about 15 miles from Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan.  Music was a part of her family life; both parents played musical instruments and had led orchestras.  She attended high school at Lyon, Michigan, where she was the only African-American student.  At one point there,  she had finished second in a school talent contest.  She had been writing music since the age of nine, and began recording in her teens.  She worked with record producer Ollie McLaughlin, a black disc jockey at Ann Arbor’s WHRB radio station, since renamed. 

By 1962, she had cut a record, an upbeat song titled “My Heart Went Do Dat Da,” which became a local hit but did not chart nationally.  However, the song  convinced Ollie McLauglin that Lewis had potential.
In January 1963, McLaughlin took Lewis to the Chess Studios in Chicago the day before they had  arranged a recording session.  There she watched Etta James cut a single, and came home a bit depressed, saying to her Mom, “I’ll never have a hit like that.”  But on the next day, for her own session, she brought a song she had written, “Hello Stranger.”  The lyrics came to her from traveling around town with her father.  “I would make the circuit with my dad and people would yell out: ‘Hey stranger, hello stranger, it’s been a long time’,”  Lewis recalled. “…But I know that second verse [in the song] makes it sound like lovers.”  And indeed, that’s the interpretation that sticks for most listeners —  a romantic, come-hither plea to a returning lover.

The song’s arrangement uses a signature organ riff in the lead along with drums and cymbal as the vocals come in.  At the recording session, DJ Ollie McLaughlin managed to pull in as background singers a good popular group called the Dells.  The Dells have a memorable part backing Lewis with classic sounding “shoo-bop, shoo-bop, my baby” vocals.  Lewis had also written the background vocals.  In the recording session, Lewis was in a tiny booth with the five Dells and two microphones.  Riley Hampton did the arranging and John Young played the keyboards.  They did 13 takes before they were satisfied with the song.  At the end, one of Dells, Chuck Barksdale, became very excited about what they had recorded.  As Barbara Lewis later recounted: “Chuck kept jumping up and down and saying, ‘It’s a hit, it’s a hit.’ …I didn’t really know. It was all new to me.”

And the song was a hit.  “Hello Stranger” broke into the Top 40 in May 1963 and rose to No. 3 that summer remaining in Top 40 for about 10 weeks.  It went to No. 1 on the R & B charts.  A debut album also titled Hello Stranger followed, with a dozen songs, all of which Lewis wrote.  It was unusual at the time – a time when professional song writers in New York’s Brill Building and elsewhere across the land were turning out songs for new groups – for the performer to also write the music.  Still, despite her talents, Lewis’s share of the rewards for her music was not what it should have been, especially in the early years.  When she began her career, she was naïve about the business side of her music, and executives got most of the money.  Some of her royalty checks were sent to fictitious persons.  At one point, Lewis was given a check for $500, with her handlers telling her it was the best they could do. 

Following her initial hit, Lewis then recorded in New York with producers Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler.  Two more hits followed.  “Baby I’m Yours,” written by Van McCoy, was released in July 1965 and rose to No. 11 on the charts.  “Make Me Your Baby” followed in October 1965, and also peaked at No 11.  Lewis’s final top forty hit was “Make Me Belong To You” of August 1966, which rose to No. 28.  By the end of 1960s, Lewis had released a grittier-sounding album on Stax Records with mixed results.  Lewis also penned songs in the 1960s that became hits for other groups, such as The Searchers from the U.K., who hit the Top 40 in the U.S. with Lewis’s “Someday We’re Gonna Love Again” in September 1964.  Lewis continued recording in Chicago into the early 1970s, but then withdrew from the music business.

Barbara Lewis soon found herself  in the work-a-day world, where she did everything from running her own jewelry store to working security.  But in her various jobs, she never touted her former fame to co-workers; nobody knew she had earlier been a popular recording artist.  “I never felt like a big star, anyway,” Lewis told former Minneapolis Star writer, Chuck Laszewski, in a 2008 interview for  “I went back to Michigan and I never told a soul.  I would hear it on the radio and it was disassociation.  It was another lifetime.  I was never sad about it.  I just went about my life.”
By 1993, however, Lewis began wondering if she could still sing and perform.  She made a few calls to old contacts and before long was once again playing on the nostalgia circuit.  As of mid-2008, she was still performing, explaining to Chuck Laszewski: “Last year, I worked an awful lot.  My voice is better than it ever was.  …I still sing the songs in their original key.  I’ve been very, very blessed.”

Over the years, Lewis’s songs, or the ones she initially recorded, have also found lots of willing users among other artists.  In fact, even in the 1960s and 1970s, her contemporaries were covering her songs.  In 1965, the same year that Lewis cut her second hit song, “Baby I’m Yours,” Peter & Gordon of the U.K. did the song for the British market, becoming a Top 20 singles hit there.  The following year, the U.K.’s Cilla Black recorded the song on her album Cilla Sings a Rainbow.  In 1969, Dusty Springfield did Lewis’s 1966 song, “Don’t Forget About Me.”  Country singer Jody Miller remade “Baby I’m Yours” in 1971 and released it as a single, reaching No. 5 on the Country Singles chart. Canada’s Suzanne Stevens hit with a 1975 disco version of “Make Me Your Baby.”  Back in the U.K., Linda Lewis had a top forty hit in 1976 with “Baby I’m Yours.”      In 1977, “Hello Stranger” was recorded by U.S. singer Yvonne Elliman, which hit No. 15 on the pop chart and No.1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also hit the U.K. singles Top 30. Debby Boone’s 1978 version of “Baby I’m Yours” – a B-side to her “God Knows” song – peaked separately at No. 18 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 33 on the Country Singles chart. A range of artists — from Debby Boone to the Arctic Monkeys — have covered her songs. ”Baby I’m Yours” was also done by Tanya Tucker in 1983, and also made the Billboard country chart.  In 1990, U.S. singer Cher released her version of “Baby I’m Yours” as the first European single release from the soundtrack to the movie Mermaids. In 1995, “Baby I’m Yours” was featured on the soundtrack from the film The Bridges of Madison County.  Other artists who have recorded “Baby I’m Yours” include Petula Clark, The Paramounts, Billy Preston, and Maureen McGovern.  And last but not least, in 2006, the Arctic Monkeys released a cover of  the song in a collaborative effort with The 747s.  It was released as a B-side of the single, “Leave Before the Lights Come On,” which hit No. 4 on the U.K. Singles Chart.  There are also a range of other artists who have done Barbara Lewis tunes, as this is not a complete list.

In July 1994, Rhino Records released a compilation of Lewis’s tunes, titled Hello Stranger: The Best of Barbara Lewis, a 20-tune compendium of her hits, basically tracking her career.  This album also includes Lewis’s endorsement on the back as well as extensive liner notes.  In one review of this album, Stephen Thomas Erlewine at All, says that Lewis’s work, along with Atlantic’s production, resulted in “an alluring body of work that still sounds seductive, yet comforting, years after their release.”  He calls The Best of…, “an excellent compilation.”  Other online reviewers, such as Dave Moore at Hitsville Soul, have gone through Lewis’s discography in detail, offering additional perspective on her music and its impact, including some of her lesser-known songs.

A lot of great cover versions of her songs..........nothing compares to hearing her sing them :)

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