Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top 25 Voices Ever

In this flaccid, useless period I'm currently existing in, I've had time to think about doing lots of things--knitting sweaters, alphabetizing my CDs, rearranging the furniture in my bedroom--fun, constructive things like that. Unfortunately, the more idle I am, the lazier I get, as evidenced by my recent purchase of bottled water to save me from descending stairs for refreshment. (Sad, so very sad.)

Despite my hatred for all things metabolically challenging, I have done plenty of music downloading and listening (all legal, I swear *fingers crossed*) and have come to some small epiphanies regarding my taste. My weird dispassion for Marvin Gaye, Minnie Riperton, and others of that ilk? Explained away by my recent tide of music acquisitions. Let me walk you through it.

Despite my current heathenry, I grew up in the Baptist church and was impressed with some pretty strong musical memories. Sitting in the pulpit (for hours--both for Sunday school and regular service) was one hell of a job, but the choir almost always redeemed the whole exercise; the sense of communal belonging, submitting together to our imperfections before some larger being and, for a moment, without ego, is something I miss. I simply don't have that type of community around me anymore. It makes plenty of sense, then, since I'm super nostalgic anyway, that I would miss those sounds now that I have little access to them. All of this to say I love churchy sounding folks---the burly, stout church-sounding folks, the ones that remind me of those buttery pancake and sugary grits Sunday school breakfasts. This is why I prefer Donnie Hathaway over Marvin Gaye and Millie Jackson over Minnie Riperton; their sounds are so much more raw and earnest, so much closer to the sounds I remember from those long-ass hours in church as a child.

Often these folks go unsung (check your local listings for a pretty awesome four-part miniseries on Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman, The Clark Sisters, and Debarge on TV One), so I thought I'd take some time to appreciate my top 25 voices in music, take a little of my space to give them the accolades they deserve and to expose my two or three readers to them. Enjoy.

To start, in no particular order, we have:

25. Johnnie Taylor - I've gone on and on about him on this blog, and in some ways, he doesn't really belong here since he's been a successful artist. However, he's not a household name and that is simply not acceptable, so it doesn't really hurt. From taking over lead duties after Sam Cooke left the Soul Stirrers to his early millennium hit about a broke and stranded woman at the casino (Hi, Mom!), this mans voice turned almost everything he sang into straight platinum. I still regret never seeing him live. (It almost happened. I was supposed to see him at the 2000 Blues Fest, but he died of a heart attack soon before.)

Who's Making Love

What About My Love

When the Gates Swing Open w/ The Soul Stirrers

24. Meli'sa Morgan - I still don't get the apostrophe. Melly-suh? Whatever. This woman helped define my early tastes, those that were my own and not just an extension of my parents'. Sorry, y'all, I do prefer her version of "Do Me Baby."

Do Me Baby

Fool's Paradise (Extended Version)

Love Changes w/ Kashif

23. Rachelle Ferrell - Homegirl can just sing, for no reason, retarded notes and shit. It's ridiculous. I'd always liked her, especially the early-90s material, but once I saw her at the African Festival of the Arts some years back, it was solidified.

Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This w/ Will Downing

You Don't Know What Love Is

Til You Come Back Me

22. Sharon Bryant - I have always wanted her voice. I mean, Barbara Weathers can sing and everything, but Sharon led the Atlantic Starr I love most. Too bad that solo career didn't work out too well.

When Love Calls (Atlantic Starr)

Circles (Atlantic Starr)

Am I Dreaming? (Atlantic Starr)

21. Lou Rawls - My fellow Chicagoan had a voice like chocolate fudge, rich and oh so satisfying (take that, take that, take that!). My dad always sang "Tobacco Road" when I was a youngin', but "You'll Never Find" was, of course, the song. His back up vocals on Sam Cooke's "Bring it on Home to Me" didn't hurt either.

Bring it on Home to Me w/ Sam Cooke

Southside Blues/Tobacco Road

You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine

20. Bobby Womack - Not just a singer, but a writer, producer, and session player. Another alumnus of The Soul Stirrers and responsible for my favorite Rufus/Chaka Khan song.

I'm in Love

Across 110th Street

California Dreamin' (Live)

19. Rahsaan Patterson - Rahsaan Patterson loves Chaka Khan. This is evident. However, that does not change the fact dude got some serious go. See him live and tell me otherwise. He'll stand on stage with a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and show off.

It Ain't Love

Street Life

Where You Are (Silk's Old School Mix)

To Be Continued

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