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Sheba Potts-Wright

From Soul Express 4/2001


Sheba is another new name on Ecko Records, and her debut CD on the label differs from most of the other Ecko output by offering less dancers and blues. Instead we are treated to soothing soul slowies and relaxed mid-pacers. Sheba: "It's because I'm a laid-back person, and I fell like Ecko needed a change. I've been told that I'm the first artist that has come to Ecko Records and has kicked off in one week. In a three week's time I've already been called to do several shows in different cities."

Produced, engineered, mixed and partially co-written by John Ward, the set opens with an answer song to a big local hit (which Universal picked up from Mardi Gras to a wider distribution). "Slow Roll It was originally recorded by a man called Love Doctor. He was saying that 'yall young girls, leave me alone, because you don't know how to make love to older men' and I just answered it back letting him know that's not true." The song was penned by Charles Jones.

Lover is a nice toe-tapper written by Morris J. Williams, Brenda Williams and Dan Boga. John Ward: "Brenda Williams is the wife of Morris Williams and Boga is another writer that lives here in Memphis." I Caught You is an impressive slowie written by Robert Smith. Sheba: "He lives in Memphis, but I haven't had the privilege of meeting him. He has written for several people."

After Love Fest, a slow-to-mid-tempo serene song, comes the mellow Don't Give Up On Your Woman. Sheba: "That would be my favourite, because that's an experience that a lot of people go through. They're in a relationship, and a lot of times a man's temptation flows out faster than a woman's."

Another hit song on the CD is Lipsticks On His Pants, and it has a lady guest talking on the track. "That's my road manager, Karen Jackson. When we got ready to do that song, I really wasn't comfortable doing it, so I said 'let me just go ahead and probably get someone else in, involved, to make me up to do the song'. Slow Roll It and Lipstick are getting most of the airplay."

Besides one lilter (You Were Wrong by John Ward) and mid-pacer (Do What You Do by John and Larry Chambers) there's still an almost deep ballad called Leave Me Alone (by John and Raymond Moore). "It's getting a lot of airplay. It's coming behind those two, Slow Roll It and Lipstick On His Pants."

Although Sheba now lives in Memphis, Tennessee, she hails from north. "I was born in the month of January. Now I'm in my mid-thirties. I have always asked my daddy, exactly where was I born, because we traveled so much. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, but we moved directly to Detroit, Michigan, when I was still a baby. Then we left there and moved down to Greenwood, Mississippi, when I was still an infant. Off and on I've been to Memphis probably for eighteen years."

Sheba's father is a well-known blues musician called Robert "Dr. Feelgood" Potts. "He's still in business. He's been singing for a long time and he also plays harmonica. My dad said that I've been into music ever since I was nine months old. By me being around him all these years, I kinda grew up in the studio with him. We have a famous writer over here. His name is George Jackson. My father and him are very good friends. I learned a whole lot watching them to write music and play it back. George will be writing some material for my next CD, and I will be writing on my next CD, too. This first CD is something we did right away, and this was the stuff that was already prepared from Ecko Records, and by me coming in and being a new artist, it was just perfect for me.

"I was about fifteen years old, when I got serious about music. I took piano lessons, when I was nine, and when I got into junior high school I started taking saxophone lessons. Then I ran across this man, whose name is Russell Baxter. He had a group called the 21st Century Band, so I ended up joining this group. I was in the group with him for like four years in the early 80s.

"After that I ended up in a group with my dad. I started traveling with him and doing shows with him. The last time I did a show with him was probably in '92. Then I got with a guy by the name of Quinn Golden, who is also an Ecko recording artist, after which I got discovered through Denise LaSalle. She asked me, did I want to join her group. I joined her group, opened up and did background for her. That's where I was discovered by John Ward; or Larry Chambers, should I say. Today Denise's choice is back with blues. She tried gospel, but the gospel wasn't really selling for her, so she went back into blues and rhythm & blues."

Already in the late 80s Sheba did some work for Malaco Records. "Harrison Calloway invited me to Jackson. He brought me out to do some vocals and stuff in the studio, and it just so happened that the day I came I ran into Wolf Stephenson, who was devoted to his hobby, wild turkey hunting, then. He was a very nice person."

In the sleevenotes of her CD Sheba shows gratitude to a number of persons. "Preston Shannon is a very, very good friend of mine. He's a musical friend of mine. When I have a situation I need to ask questions about music or about life or about anything, Preston is the one I call and get my information from.

"Ann Hines is doing very well. Ann recently had a heart attack and she told me 'Sheba, this stuff is happening so fast for you. Don't do like I did. Don't get stressed and end up drawing yourself into having a heart attack'. But she's doing fine now, and she and J. Blackfoot are back in the strive again. They just released a single called Two Different People."

Sheba names Denise LaSalle, Betty Wright and Carla Thomas her favourites. "Carla is doing fine. Carla was at my promo party in September.

"This CD we recorded in three weeks and, like I said, in a week's time they had me in the air blowing up. I hope that the next CD's I do will do the same thing, and when they do that maybe I can go somewhere and buy me a nice business, maybe even give me a clothes line."

-Heikki Suosalo
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