About a decade ago, my colleague Kevin Ross compiled a list of Black singers that he felt were underrate and under-appreciated in comparison to their talents. He invited me to take a crack at compiling such a Top 10 as we near the end of 2019. What follows is a list of female singers I consider talented and accomplished but have yet to reach the full gravitas of what I believe their talents so richly deserve.
1. Jackie Moore
I begin my list with a woman we sadly lost on November 8. The Jacksonville, Florida-native was in possession of what may have not been the most electrifying voice in Soul music in the highly competitive late `60s to early `80s, but it was most certainly one of the sweetest – a clear ringing alto richly inspired by the likes of Gladys Knight. After garnering attention on the southern and Philly indies Shout and Wand Records, Jackie was traded to Atlantic Records where she scored a Gold million-seller with the delightful “Precious, Precious,” a song she wrote the lyrics for (on the back of a brown paper grocery bag) with music by her cousin, producer Dave Crawford. Strangely, Jackie didn’t get a full album release on Atlantic until 1973 with the strong 10-song Sweet Charlie Babe, a project that showcased her winning versatility from the charming Soul-Pop of the title track (penned by Bunny Sigler and Phil Hurtt) to grittier sides like “Both Ends Against The Middle,” both of which should have been huge hits.
“Miss Moore” (as she was often billed) also showed a penchant for message oriented material with songs like the funk fortified “Time” (a 1971 single), “Clean Up Your Own Yard” and “If,” the latter of which she remarked just before her death was even more relevant now than it was in `73. Sadly, after recording 30 songs for Atlantic (14 unreleased until a 2-CD compilation was done in the U.K. last year, The Complete Atlantic Recordings), she was dropped from the label that apparently promoted Aretha records over all other R&B females. One album for Kayvette Records (owned by Millie Jackson and super Soul producer Brad Shapiro) was critically acclaimed but sank with little trace.
It wasn’t until signing to Columbia Records in the late `70s that Jackie rebounded with two classy albums, I’m On My Way (1979) and With Your Love (1980) where she scored a bona-fide Disco classic with “This Time Baby” (originally an album cut recorded by The O’Jays) and a mild Quiet Storm gem in her cover of Major Harris’ “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” from a woman’s point of view. Jackie’s last notable single was a duet with kindred Atlantic Records ex-patriot Wilson Picket on the sexy, orchestrated techno funk cut “Seconds,” after which she retired from recording, raised a family and flourished as a church first lady to her minister husband. Versatile Jackie Moore deserved a brighter shine yet, true to her humble spirit, was philosophically grateful for all she had achieved. Utmost respect. (click NEXT below for the next artist)