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Pree

From Soul Express 2/2000


INTRODUCING...PREE

Pree's bio says that "she is a professional singer, songwriter, vocal arranger, commercial vocalist and runaway/print works model and live stage entertainer" and adds that "Pree is of Cherokee/Seminole Native American decent. Her heritage also includes Afro-American, German-Jew and French bloodlines." Her good looks and splendid stature certainly become evident in the pictures, but her wide-range voice is also attractive, although she mainly prefers to skip voice acrobatism and often times chooses a more smokey, whispery type of a vocal approach.
With gratitude, I repeat the additional information kindly provided by MyTown's A&R, Ms. Blair Marie. "Pree's real name is Karen Pree, formally of the Pree Sisters. She has chosen to drop her first name and use the family name in honour of her sisters, brother and parents. She is a native of Los Angeles, California, and has spent all of her life there until she moved to Detroit, Michigan, in the late 1980s. She is part of a musical and extended family. Besides her sisters, her father, Sonnie Pree, was a local big band singer. He also was part of the chorale group, who sang The Witch Is Dead in the original Wizard of Oz. Pree is the other-mother to Nicci Gilbert of Brownstone and first cousin to Spider Webb, renown drummer extraordinaire, who has played for numerous famous artists and on many hit releases through the years."
"In the 70s the Pree Sisters won a talent show and landed a contract with Capitol Records. They were produced by Muscle Shoals' producing team, Terry Woodford and Clayton Ivy. Their single was You've Got To Use What You've Got To Get What You Want (backed with Part Time Lover, Full Time Fool on Capitol in '73). The group disbanded shortly afterwards and Pree continued on as a solo artist." Already one year earlier, in 1972, the Pree Sisters had one single released on Capitol, Love Among People/Let's Get Together.
Karen Pree's first solo recording was Make Love Last Forever (part 1/2, on Casablanca in '74), which led to an eponymous album on MCA in '77, produced by Clay McMurray.
"In the late 90s Pree was asked by Martha Reeves to join her as her backup singer. She was partnered with Carolyn Crawford as the new Vandellas on a world tour. Pree also sang background on Martha Reeves' yet to be released new CD and does a cameo performance on the Dramatics' yet to be released new CD. She sang all background parts on her current CD and was joined by Carolyn Crawford on Oh No Not By Baby."
"With the explosion of rap and hip hop music, Pree performed only at private gatherings, weddings and at corporate parties. She returned to her studies and obtained her Bachelors of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography one year ahead of schedule. It was her long-time partner, Clay McMurray, a former Motown producer, who approached Pree with an offer that she couldn't refuse. The chance to record another album with total artist control and executive producers credits and the chance to once again do what she loves the most - to write, to sing, to create. She is a joy to all of us here. She's beautiful, extremely talented, we love her and hope the rest of the world will, too."
For many of us the name of Clay McMurray, the MyTown boss and the producer of Pree's A Style Of My Own set, must ring a bell, as for some decades now he has worked as a producer, writer, musician and engineer for dozens of Motown luminaries and also other acts. Besides producing he also wrote together with Pree six new songs for the set.
The outside songs are a bouncy cover of Maxine Brown's '64 hit, Oh No Not My Baby, a funky slash at Prince's '79 gold hit, I Wanna Be Your Lover, a gentle delivery of the Cars' often-recorded '84 song, Drive, a jazzy interpretation of the evergreen, Cry Me A River, a subtle version of Pieces' '79 pretty slowie, Heaven Must Have Made You, and finally a theme from the movie Ravenhawk, a slightly jazzy slowie called Why Has It Come To This.
Besides herself, Pree had earlier in her career written songs also for other artists (My Girl Is Really Dynamite for the Lovemakers on Island in '75 and songs for the Elgins and Lynda Lawrence during Ian Levine's Motor City period, when also Pree herself recorded), and now on A Style Of My Own she had a hand in penning five songs. The Lady In Red is a swaying ballad, Stop Runnin'After Me a lilting and catchy slowie, I'm Feelin' In Love a beautiful ballad, Can't Help Loving a simple and catchy dancer and finally Mr. Fantasy Man a somewhat jazzy mid-pacer.
An atmospheric, soft slowie named You've Gotten To Me was written by Clay McMurray alone. Have a listen. Pree is a pleasant acquaintance.
-Heikki Suosalo

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