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DEEP # 1/2007 (February 2007)

This time the column is short but sweet.  While waiting for the new indie soul releases to flood in, I now concentrate on three new artists: a talented and soulful Philly girl, Shirley Slaughter, a Southern chanteuse called Joy and a promising tenor singer out of Alabama, Simone De.

Content and quick links:

Shirley Slaughter
Simone De

CD reviews:
Vince Hutchinson: CD Man 2 Man
Eugene Smiley, Sr., CD Legends
Kenne Wayne: CD Time To Get Loose


Mr. Weldon A. McDougal III has been active in music business for over fifty years.  He was the founder of the Larks in the mid-50s, produced Barbara Mason’s Yes I’m Ready and many other hits, has promoted both Motown and Philly music in their prime and has wore many other hats in creating some of the gems in our genre.  Weldon’s latest protégé is a lady named Shirley Slaughter.

Weldon: “I’ve known her for about 16-17 years.  I knew her father and mother.  We grew up together… and her mother grew up with Thom Bell.  Tommy has shown interest, and he may help me produce her.”

Shirley: “I was born in Philadelphia on February 21, in 1965, and I’ve been here all my life.  I really started out with musicals.  When I was younger, I used to watch the Shirley Temple movies.  Those days there weren’t too many African-American entertainers that could be seen on television.  Diana Ross was a real big thing in my era, especially when she went solo, and the Motown kind of thing influenced me.”

“I danced in one of the bigger dancing schools here in Philadelphia called Philadanco.  I think I was twelve, when I started dancing… and I’m still doing it.  I’ve been singing since I was nine, and I’ve been doing it all my life.  I’ve never stopped.  When I started singing, I used to sing to myself.  Nobody ever knew I could sing.  I was shy and bashful.  I went to a Catholic school, and around that time they didn’t have a black gospel choir, like they have now.  When I got a little older and started working, I paid for my own singing lessons.  The first vocal coach I had was Artie Singer.  That was in the 80s.”

“I did my first record in 1991.  It was a single called Real Love.  It was on Weldon’s label, Universal Love.  That was the first song I’ve ever written.  I wrote it in a day.  On the b-side there was Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean, a Ruth Brown song.  Weldon produced both of them.”

“Weldon was real honest and straight-out.  He said ‘I got some songs.  I see what I can do, but I don’t have any money, so I’m not promising you anything’.  I appreciated that.  In a month he put the single out, and it made over to England.  I don’t know how.  There was a disc jockey over there named Mickey Nold, and he played it over there.  We sold here in the States a few, but we got more play over in England.”

Shirley’s next record, her recent CD titled Philadelphia Soul (Universal Love; 2007; 7 tracks, 28 min.), was produced and for the most part arranged by Weldon, and it has real live players on it.  The opener, a delicious soul ballad called I Need Him (To Help Me Get Over you), has Carla Benson on background vocals and Eilliott Roberts putting a refined touch to it with his sax playing.  Shirley, who hits some high notes on this song (not unlike Minnie Riperton or Deniece Williams), has been told many times that she sounds like Stephanie Mills – she doesn’t mind hearing it, though – and particularly on this song the resemblance is evident.  “I said ‘I want to sing songs that have a meaning and really say something’.  Weldon said that Dave Appell has some songs and let me look into it.  Dave let me listen to some of his stuff and I liked this song.”  Kae Williams, the keyboard player, was the arranger on the track.

The guitarist Bobby Bennett arranged the melancholic, jazzy slowie called Don’t Explain and also plays on it.  Larry Gold is on cello.  Billie Holiday co-wrote the song in the early 40s after her then-husband came home with lipstick on collar.  “I just figured that no-one really sings that song.  That was just a little different from Billie Holiday.  I just sort of did it my way.  I Need Him and Don’t Explain were the two recent ones we have done.  We did them last summer.  The rest of the songs on there are songs that I did a long time ago.”

Weldon himself wrote a brisk and melodic uptempo song called I Still Love You, which the Four Larks first cut on Tower 402 in 1968.  “I was actually singing that song just for the big meeting in Philadelphia last year (at the Clef Club, with lots of soul fans from Europe).  Since Weldon’s wife passed away and she couldn’t sing it, he asked me to sing it.  I sang the song, and that’s how it came about.”  There’s an Old School Mix of the song as the closing cut to the CD.

In the pic above: Jack Ashford, Shirley and Joe Hunter.

On a cover of Yes I’m Ready Shirley retains the innocent, “little girl” approach to the song.  “Again, that was something I did a long time ago.”  A touching beat ballad titled My Child was written by Janie Bradford.  “We did that in the year 2000.  I like that song.  I had done that song for Janie at her Heroes and Legends award show that she has every year in Beverly Hills.  It’s more like a Motown family thing, because everybody from Motown is there.”

Billy Butler wrote an inspirational and sweet slowie called Take Advantage of the Day, and he also plays guitar on it.  “That was an old song, too, we did that a long time ago.  I like inspirational songs.”

“I have some other songs we’ve cut, but we didn’t put them on this CD.  We’re gonna start working on some new stuff.  There are inspirational songs and love songs among them, and I also like some happy, good-feeling songs.”

Shirley’s hopes for the future are simple and realistic.  “I wish to be successful in singing, since I’ve been doing it all my life.  I don’t have to be a superstar, but just to sing and make people feel good.  I encourage people to keep at it.  It might not happen right away, but it will eventually.”

Philadelphia Soul, which was the last record cut at Sigma Sound in Philadelphia, is a great and genuinely soulful start to this year – impressive, old school type of soul singing, real instruments and good songs.  Weldon still wants to thank John Carrier for his help and support.  For the CD you can approach Mr. McDougal at Universal Love Inc. (117 S Wycombe Ave, Lansdowne, PA 19050; 610-626 8775;


I reviewed Joy’s new CD, A Woman Can Feel (Blues River Records, BBR-005;, already for my # 2/2006 column, but started thinking afterwards that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to introduce the lady herself.  After all, she is a newcomer to the scene.

Joyce Glaspie was born on July 18 in 1966, so she is nineteen years younger than her sister, Shirley Brown.  “I was born in West Memphis, Arkansas.  I’ve been here all my life.  We’ve always been active in church.  My family’s a real good family of singers.  A lot of times on Saturday my dad would sit down and listen to blues.  My dad played a little piano, and sometimes we all would sit around and sing.”

“I had been singing in church choirs and school choirs in my earlier years.  I was an athlete.  I loved playing basketball and running track.  But I was not tall.  Actually I was short and quick.  I would steal the ball, before you could blink your eye.”

“If you have a sister out there, she’s going to be one of your main influences.  Another person I loved was Patti LaBelle, and also Aretha Franklin.  I’ve always been interested in singing.  A couple of years ago I was talking with some gentlemen and I sang a little bit for them.  ‘Wait, we might have something here’.  Through that I met Mr. Percy Friends and Wiley Brown, and they introduced me to Aaron Weddington, who’s my manager now.”

Percy is the producer, player and co-writer (with John Cummings) of most of the songs on Joy’s debut record, A Woman Can Feel (14 tracks, 66 min.).  Wiley took care of the mastering.  One of the background singers, Lee Glaspie, is Joyce’s 20-year-old son.  “One of my favourites on the CD is the song that I co-wrote with Booker Brown, Trying To hold on.  We just sat down with him and came up with words and music.”  Joy’s other favourites include the impressive title ballad and a toe-tapper titled So Good, where Joy vocally bears a slight resemblance to Peggy Scott-Adams.

“Recording (the smooth) Woo Woo Woo took me awhile, because I would get laughing in the middle of the song.  I love ballads.  I was sitting around in the studio, and the words to I Got a Secret just started to flow out.  I’ve been around with a lot of people that’s got a secret.”  The latter song was written by Joy together with Percy, whereas another ballad, Too Late to Say I’m Sorry, was penned by Henderson Thigpen, the co-writer of Shirley Brown’s Woman To Woman.  “Henderson is very easy to work with.  As a matter of fact, on my next album I have some other songs that he wrote.  Henderson and my producer knew each other, and we were talking about different people that we could get to write for me.”

Of the three dancers on the album, Dead Beat Man has some whistling on it.  “That’s me.  I’m not a very good whistler, though, but hey, I tried.”  A Woman Can Feel is an enjoyable set of mainly ballads and mid-tempo songs, and there’s more to come.  “We’ll release the new CD probably the latter part of this year.”


Simone De’s first CD, I Can’t Take It No More, made a big impression on me, and now after the release of his follow-up, A Definitive Collection (Premier Music Entertainment, PME 534; 2006), I decided to find out about the origins of Mr. Simone De Moore (

“Simone De is the first and middle name given to me by my father, who was in military quite often in France.  I was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1965, January 10.  My father was into the music scene quite often as a musician, as a trombone player.  He played with several bands.  I presently have a son, who’s in the rap scene making beats and music, Jay.Mo.”

  Sam Cooke, Al Green, Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle were the artists that had the biggest musical impact on Simone in his formative years.  “Through elementary, middle and high school I’ve been in music classes and choruses and I’ve had private lessons.  My music background comes from church, as it resonates in my singing now.  I’ve been a member of community choruses as a lead singer and a singer for several church choirs throughout the state of Alabama.  We never made any recordings with those choirs.  Basically we were singing at different functions and conventions.  I was also a sometime musician with them.  Organ and piano are the instruments of my choice, although I played other instruments at school like trombone and baritone, but at present I stick to the keyboards.”

Besides singing, Simone was also working in city government as – what you could call – a go-between person.  “I was doing correspondence for the mayor, for the city of Mobile, and the paperwork between the government and the citizens, public or private entities.

A couple of years ago, Simone ventured into the more secular side of music.  “I wanted to take my music to another level.  There’s another side to me, other than the church, but, as it resonates in my music, my message is still a message of love and personal issues that people can identify with.  The music that I sing now, if you want to, you can take it to church, because again the message is positive.”

I wrote about Simone’s debut (I Can’t Take It No More) that “the music on this wonderful CD is at the same time both dreamy and atmospheric, and intense.  I can’t help but admire how effortlessly and yet comprehensively the music flows.”  “That CD was a great step for me.  It allowed me the opportunity to step outside my normal realm, which was the church, and to show the world another side of me, the rhythm side.  But I don’t try to leave my roots.  That CD made me known nationally and internationally, and I’m very proud of what that CD did for me.”

The first album was produced, arranged and written by Simone and his brother, Kelvin Moore, whereas on the second one the producers are Roger Ryan and Kent Wells.  “I worked on that album the whole year of 2006.  After doing some of the writing myself, I travelled to Nashville, Tennessee, and came up with an agent out there, Artist Development Network and Cathy Lemmon.  We got together and decided that we should take this project to a totally different level, and we came up with two – what I call – best producers today, Mr. Roger Ryan and Mr. Kent Wells.  As a result of working with these producers and some great songwriters out there we came up with Simone De, A Definitive Collection.  Usually that name is, when you can defend a title that has already been, but I know that this CD is a definitive collection, because it has already impacted nationally and internationally – the music, the arrangement and the vocals on this CD.  This is a real band on this CD.  Mr. Roger Ryan has his band and Mr. Kent Wells composed his band also, so these are the real instruments on this CD.”

The mellow churchy sound of the first record has become more down-to-earth and upbeat for the second one.  “Remember, I was just stepping away from church – and, again, I’m not stepping out of the church – and venturing a little further in different directions.  It was the first step away, and, of course, that first CD was closer to the church.”

Simone wrote two beaters, Show Me and Blues, Funk, Soul & a (Little Rock & Roll), and one poignant ballad (only ruined by a rock guitar in the middle), You’re the Best Woman, together with John Conley.  “John Conley is a wonderful, phenomenal writer out of Nashville, Tennessee.  I requested to write with John more after we had written Show Me, because he knew, where I was coming from.”

Simone’s writing partner on a mid-tempo song titled Since I Lost You Baby with a ripping sax solo and on a driving fiesta song called Do Right Man is Jeff Pearson.  “Jeff is another very meticulous writer.  Once we got it together, we felt good about it.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with Jeff.  He’s out of Nashville, also.  Do Right Man has a New Orleans, a Louisiana feel to it.  We gave this CD a little variety, and I think it turned out excellent in that way.”

Two uptempo cuts, I Can’t Take It No More and Ooh My Love are remixed from the first CD and restructured from sweeping floaters into tracks with more emphasis on beat.  “The reason I decided to do remixes was, because I Can’t Take It No More is personal to me.  I love that song.  That song touches my very soul.  I wanted to remix that song with a real band, so that I can get a real feeling, a real texture.”  I Can’t Take It No More alongside Since I Lost You Baby are Simone’s own favourites on the set.

Simone wrote with Anita Cox and Corey Baker two melodic, mid-tempo floaters – Sweet Memory and Wanna Be Your Lover – and one tender ballad, Tonight Is the Night, which all grow into gospelly heights and which stand out for this scribe.  “They are again wonderful writers out of Nashville, Tennessee.  I had started a couple of those songs, and once I got to Nashville we rewrote and worked on them again, and I’m just so happy the way they turned out.  They have intensity.”

“This CD is what older or middle-aged people long for: music with a meaning that they can relate to.  My future plan is to take this music to the world over, to travel the world and to sing to my fans.”


In my mind I’ve always connected Vince Hutchinson with Chuck Strong, and, true, after listening to both of them one after another there are some similarities in voice and style.  Vince himself wrote all the songs and Kewan Fry arranged them for Man 2 Man (M2M 110706; ’06), and the music is actually quite well structured considering it is created with machines.

Dancers are regularly followed by slowies.  On the uptempo side the perky Stuck on Your Love leads the way (Take Me as I Am has that compulsory but irritating and unnecessary rap part in it), while among the downtempo songs Love Don’t Live Here No More, a duet with Karla Delmore, penetrates deepest into your soul.  On the tender Leave It Alone Vince tries some “Lenny Williams” oo-oo-ooh’s, whereas the title song is actually a telephone conversation between a husband and a lover.  After the Storm is a lilting inspirational song, which concludes this entertaining set.


Next two CDs have been around for awhile, but let’s give them a belated listen, anyway.  Eugene Smiley, Sr. is a veteran r&b artist, who was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, but has recorded in Chicago as a member of the Visitors for Dakar (no national hits) and as the leader of the Essence of Love in Kansas City in the late 70s.  His son, Eugene Smiley, Jr., has followed in his father’s footsteps.

Legends (Smiley Bowman Publishing 2006; 34 min.) was arranged and written by Eugene, and he also plays organ, piano, guitar and keyboards on it.  The biggest delight is the full background sound created by live players, including a strong horn section.

The blues is actually restricted to three tracks only, but there aren’t many slow soul songs, either.  The Dream is a melancholic, powerful ballad, but about Breaking up Ain’t Easy I can’t say anything, since, although listed, my disc doesn’t have it.  Of the movers, the rolling I’m the Only Man is tight and feel-good, almost like a modern-day boogie-woogie, and You’re Gonna Miss Me and Love Sensation are equally thrilling and rolling pulsators.  Although Eugene is not the best singer in the world, full points go to the rich and almost overwhelming background sound.


Time To Get Loose (Good Time Records, GOT 7608; ’06) is Kenne’s sixth album in ten years (, but I’m afraid I’m still not overly impressed.  Produced for the most part by Kenne’ with four partners, the machines dominate – and produce occasionally some irritating sounds – and of the few live instruments in the mix, guitars find their way into some rock licks again.

The title track is the catchiest among the five party songs, whereas Crazy about Your Lovin’, a basic soul ballad, and Superstar, a romantic and pretty slowie, represent the best on the downtempo side.


  The Memphis Tri-State Blues Festival (HEG Records; 1 h 40 min) took place on August 14 in 2004 at the DeSoto Civic Center just outside of Memphis, Tennessee, and now we can enjoy that concert on DVD.

Willie Clayton moves a lot and takes advantage of the large stage area.  I only wish he had sung more slowies than Woman’s World, because that’s where he excels at.  Three People was another gem out of the five songs he performed (or that were included in the DVD).

Latimore’s intense spot consisted of long and strongly improvised deliveries of Mountain Top and, of course, Let’s Straighten It OutTheodis Ealey, a man and his guitar, excited the audience most with his last, signature song, Stand up in It, but Bobby Rush generated still more action with his “bottom dancing” girls.

Allegedly this was Tyrone Davis’ last recorded performance, and, although I’m always happy to see his show, this one made me sad.  It wasn’t because of knowing that he’s not there to sing for long anymore but because of the level of the music.  Gone was the easily flowing and, if necessary, tight playing and sweet and soft singing.  Instead the music was angular, jerky, and the singing was husky and coarse, almost like roaring.  I still cherish my 70s footages of Tyrone, and I want to remember him that way, in his prime (for the DVD try

MY TOP-20 in 2006

1.  David Sea: Love Makes the World Go Round
2.  Candi Staton: His Hands
3.  The Different Shades of Brown: Have a Heart
4.  Willie Clayton: Gifted
5.  Willie Walker and the Butanes: Memphisapolis
6.  Renea Mitchell: The Road of Love
7.  Barbara Carr: Down Low Brother
8.  J. Blackfoot: It Ain’t Over till it’s Over
9.  Ms. Jody: You’re My Angel
10. Gwen McCrae: Sings TK
11. Joy: A Woman Can Feel
12. Omar Cunningham: Worth the Wait
13. William Bell: New Lease on Life
14. Bryan Austin: Chosen for the Dream
15. Solomon Burke: Nashville
16. Irma Thomas: After the Rain
17. Lacee’: The Songstress
18. Ms. Jody: What You Gonna Do When the Rent Is Due
19. Roni: Call Me
20. The Isley Brothers: Baby Makin’ Music


Mickey McGill, Martha Reeves, Verne Allison

Finally please enjoy the photo showing that the Dells were not inducted only into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but also the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (

Heikki Suosalo

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