Daddy B. Nice’s Corner 2021 – news and opinion on Southern Soul RnB music and artists
April 12, 2021
The Strange & Unique Case of Calvin Richardson, New Book (by Rob Bowman) On Malaco Records Featured on NPR, The Long Lives of Southern Soul’s 1-Hit Wonders (Willie B, Lady J, Judi Brown Eyes, Will T)
News & Notes
1. The Strange & Unique Case Of Calvin Richardson
Calvin Richardson has been on my mind lately, as I’ve continued to post contemporary southern soul’s biggest stars on my new countdown chart, The New Generation. One of the biggest factors in determining the relative status of current candidates for the countdown is their commercial appeal.
How many records do they sell?
(Calvin’s albums usually make the Billboard R&B charts, signifying success in that field.)
What is their touring presence?
(Calvin has been a headliner on the southern soul circuit for the last two or three years, most notably the old Blues Is Alright Tour venues around the country, where he has mingled with southern soul’s major stars.)
How many views do their songs attract on YouTube?
(Calvin has one song, “Can’t Let Go,” that has reaped 38 million views. That’s “star” territory with the likes of Pokey Bear and Sir Charles Jones.)
Why, then, has your Daddy B. Nice not honored Calvin Richardson with a top placement on the The New Generation chart?
(If I were going to do so, he would probably have made it before now, given his well-known brand and commercial clout.)
The answers are already evident in the postings I’ve made over the years in the Calvin Richardson artist guide, and they can be summed up in one general statement: Calvin Richardson is not a southern soul artist.
Like Jaheim, like Angie Stone, like Syleena Johnson, like Erykah Badu, like Shemekia Copeland, like Ann Nesby—all of whom, like Calvin, have appeared in previous Daddy B. Nice artist guides—Calvin resides in that nether region of soul music that, on the one hand, elicits national recognition, but on the other, calls up none of the down-south, partisan fervor that the southern soul audience reserves for its true practitioners.
Is Calvin a soul-blues artist? The very term is so ambiguous that it can mean practically anything. Everyone in the South knows what southern soul music is. No one outside of a few radio industry types knows what soul blues is. Blues Critic offers a soul-blues category in its year-end “best-of” poll, and it seems to incorporate artists who in some way ply soul and in some other ways ply blues: once again, a kind of nether region between what is nationally understood as soul or blues and what is southern soul, with its readily-identifiable style.
Calvin Richardson has never recorded a southern soul hit single. Calvin Richardson isn’t played—or is very rarely played—on bonafide southern soul outlets. His strongest bonds to southern soul emanate from his southern soul-worthy Bobby Womack album.
That doesn’t take away from Calvin Richardson’s contributions to the southern soul tour circuit. Like any number of urban r&b artists—R. Kelly, Anthony Hamilton, Dave Hollister, etc.—his presence enhances the tour, giving people unsure of southern soul a “bridge” to the genre in the guise of readily-recognizable, northern or urban soul, just as the artists listed above gave initiates to southern soul music (including yours truly) a handle to interpret the southern soul genre in the first Top 100 countdowntwenty years ago.
So while I welcome Calvin Richardson’s collaborations with southern soul artists (Karen Wolfe is just the latest), and cheer his presence as a headliner on the bigger, multi-act stages along with Pokey, Sir Charles and other southern soul stars, I cannot promote him as a southern soul artist because he isn’t and appears to have no intention of ever becoming one. That is why I call his status in southern soul a “strange and unique” case. I don’t presume to have the last word on any of this, and I’m interested in other fans’ feedback, but for now it just seems the right thing to do. Welcome Calvin as an artist from another, related genre—urban soul—while not confusing fans by calling him a southern soul artist.
2. NPR features Malaco
Nowadays, with Malaco and even subsidiary Waldoxy out of the southern soul recording business, the most common perspective among the southern soul faithful when Malaco is brought up is one of loss, like the aftermath of a long and fruitful marriage that ultimately went sour. To this day Malaco is revered by the southern soul community for publishing its stars, the icons who inspired the contemporary southern soul scene: Johnnie Taylor, Little Milton, Z.Z. Hill, Shirley Brown, Marvin Sease, Denise LaSalle and so many more. But we tend to forget that Malaco forges on—and not only that—gains accolades along the way.
In March National Public Radio’s Morning Edition recognized a new book detailing the legendary Jackson, Mississippi record label, The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story by Rob Bowman.
Did you know that Malaco is one of the longest running independent record labels in American music history, longer than Motown, Stax, Atlantic, Chess—all of them? It’s also the largest Black gospel company in the world—bar none. This and a treasure trove of information is chronicled in both printed and streaming versions at the ‘Last Soul Company’ Details The Story Of Malaco Records.
Today, Malaco Records makes most of its money with new gospel releases and music licensing fees from a warehouse full of blues, R&B and soul recordings (the music that inspired today’s contemporary southern soul artists). News of the feature and book were forwarded by Tiffany Couch and former WMPR morning host DJ Outlaw, now of Outlaw Entertainment.
3. Willie B Touring As “Larry Licker”: Southern Soul’s 1-Hit Wonders Never Die
It was a stroke of genius on the part of Willie B or some trusted, personal publicist. As I posted southern soul concerts on the Concert Calendar one day recently, I noticed little-known and seldom-toured Willie B had made the bill of a multi-act venue, advertised as Willie B aka Larry Licker. “Larry Licker,” of course, being the single that gave Willie B his clain to southern soul fame. Subsequently, I posted two more multi-act, summer events with Willie B in the line-up, one that said “aka Larry Licker” and one that did not. (I felt sorry for the one that did not.)
Willie B aka Larry Licker will be appearing May 8th in Longs, South Carolina, May 9th in Grifton, North Carolina and June 19th in Lownesboro, Alabama, sharing the bill in all cases with Angel Faye Russell and also others (David Brinston, Latimore, etc.). Check it out in Daddy B. Nice’s Concert Calendar.
Southern soul artists should be incredibly heartened to hear of this. It shows how much and how deeply people care about the music, and how long-lasting the music is. Another example—and equally obscure—is Lady J. I just got another letter requesting a Lady J album, this years after the fact. Now Lady J wasn’t just a one-hit wonder, but she was obscure even in the days she was recording. You had to be an aficionado, or be listening to a deejay who was an aficionado, to even have heard of her. (I tried to track her down for years with no success.) And yet, here, after years of neglect, your Daddy B Nice continues to get queries about Lady J, so many that I don’t even post them any more.
Another famous one-hit wonder of the southern soul world is Judi Brown Eyes. Her hit single “Sam” has amassed a near half-million views on YouTube since it was first posted in 2008. The now forgotten singers Angel Sent and Leaundra Lively did “takes” on the single.
Of course, we couldn’t leave the subject of one-hit wonders without mentioning the ultimate southern soul one-hit wonder, the result of an impromptu Chicago music session arranged by composer/producer Floyd Hamberlin with a last-minute, pick-up, lead singer simply called Will T.because at the time of the recording he was a preacher and did not want to be associated with a secular release. To this day, the humbly-recorded “Mississippi Boy” ranks as one of the most beloved singles of the last twenty years.
What other contemporary genre holds such high regard and fascination with its historical anomalies? Southern soul’s one-hit wonders are a testament to the music’s staying power and its fans’ fervent love. What more can a recording artist ask for?
—Daddy B. Nice
April 1, 2021
APRIL TOP TEN “SPILLOVER”: The Top 40 Southern Soul Singles
An expanded list of the songs vying for “Top Ten Singles” in April 2021.
1. “Southern Soul Girl”—Volton Wright feat. T.K. Soul
2. “Super Woman”—Volton Wright, JD & Jeter Jones
3. “Keep It Country”—B Cam & The Zydeco Young Bucks
4. “Plain Ole Country Boy”—Jeter Jones
5. “Unkle Phunk’s Juke Joint”—Unkle Phunk feat. Luster Baker
6. “Toes Curl”—Sojo feat. Methrone
7. “Put It On Me”—West Love
8. “Stay The Night”—Jesi Terrell feat. Theo Huff
9. “Kick Out”—Mr. Fredlo feat. Omar Cunningham
10. “Cowboy Ride”—DeShay
11. “Lick This Candy”—Tasha Mac
12. “Sneaky Link”—Mz. Brown Sugar
13. “Corn Whiskey”—Dr. Dee
14. “Cougar”—Gary Shelton feat. Jeter Jones
15. “Trail Ride Certified”—Jennifer Watts
16. “Soul Stroke”—Uncle Wayne
17. “Circles”—Volton Wright feat. Jeter Jones
18. “Night Shift Cheatin'”—Uncle Gymini
19. “Duck Off Inn”—Mr. Fredlo
20. “Ain’t Too Old To Squeeze”—Melvia “Chick” Rodgers
21. “Stay Together”—Karen Wolfefeat. Calvin Richardson
22. “Ain’t Nobody”—Marcel Cassanova feat. Kizzo
23. “Put A Twist In Yo Dip”—Al Jeter feat. Jeter Jones
24. “Give It Back”—Elle Jai
25. “Burning Rubber”—Lover Boy Lew
26. “Speed Dial”—Chrissy Luvz
27. “We Just Met”—LaMorris Williams
28. “Be Your Friend”—Calvin Richardson
29. “Leave Me Alone”—Sugar Daddy
30. “Swinging To The Music”—Rich Wright
31. “Let’s Barbeque”—Avail Hollywood feat. DJ Trac
32. “Showed Me Different”—Mr. Amazing
33. “Can’t Be Playing”—Duchess Jureesa McBride
34. “Big Gurls”—Carolyn Staten
35. “Every Day In Every Way”—Sarah Lesol
36. “Take The Party Outside”—Cupid
37. “I Can’t Take This Pain”—Ken Polk Gore
38. “Can’t Teach An Old Dog”—Angel Faye Russell
39. “Ooh Wee Baby”—Ms. Kida
40. “Lovely Day (Remix)”—Jimmy Lee