Front Page

The Best Tracks in 2017

CD Shop

Book Store

Search Content/Artists

New Releases

Forthcoming Releases

Back Issues

Serious Soul Chart

Quality Time Cream Cuts

Vintage Soul Top 20

Boogie Tunes Top 20

Album of the Month

CD Reviews

Editorial Columns


Readers' Favourites

Top 20 most visited pages



Part 2: 1995 – 2019

  In the first part of the story we delved into Wendy Moten’s childhood memories, her first training in singing in church, then at her Performance Art School and her headway into secular popular music through bands like MVP, lengthy tours and her first two albums, Wendy Moten in 1992 and Time for Change in 1995.

  In October 1995 Wendy released a holiday CD called Christmas Time (TOCP-8687). The CD was foremost aimed at her loyal fans in Japan. Wendy: “This was a Toshiba and EMI release, something they wanted to do, and I’m glad, because it kept me in the system. I recorded those new songs in Detroit. I and Dick Williams produced it and my ten-piece band that toured with me at the time played the music.”

  Four of the songs on the EP – Change of Heart, So Close to Love, Come in out of the Rain and Forever Yours – had appeared already on Wendy’s previous albums, so this leaves us with three new songs. A pretty, mellow and heartfelt ballad named Christmas Time was put out as a promotional single, while another slow song, It’s Christmas, is equally melodic but also a little more playful. The sweet and tender The Christmas Song is the familiar standard written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells.


  I.R.S. stands for International Record Syndicate, and it’s a record label established in 1979. Especially in the 1980 it released music by such popular bands as R.E.M., the Go-Go’s and Fine Young Cannibals, plus a lot of punk and new wave acts. “It was Miles Copeland’s label. His brother, Stewart Copeland, was the drummer for the Police, Sting’s band. Miles used to manage the Police and he created IRS Records, which was then under the EMI umbrella.”

  Wendy’s third full-length CD, Life’s What You Make It, was released on I.R.S. on July the 7th in 1996, and it features mainly real players throughout – actually, as many as 21 musicians. Dick Williams and Wendy are the main producers. “I think most of it was done in Michigan.” In terms of music this meant a drastic change in style compared to Wendy’s previous releases. The CD was a mixture of rock, pop and lush show tunes. “I wanted to go in a whole another direction. I wanted to do something different. I was finally finding out who I am. I wanted to go more pop alternative. I was loving that music more... and I love all styles of music.”

  On the rock front, the opening title tune was a small hit for a British rock band Talk Talk in 1986. The track is a busy rocker with Randy Jacobs playing dirty guitar licks, but the Japanese loved it and there the single shot all the way to number one. The album peaked at # 67 in Japan. Other rock-flavoured tracks include the slow Stone Jumping and the experimental Another Nothing Song, which was co-written by Wendy as well as the mid-tempo Believe in Love.

  The ones that are more on the pop side include a melodic, mid-tempo number named If You Don’t Love Me and a surprise remake of the Young Rascals’ gold hit in 1968, People Got to Be Free. Produced by Wendy, this slowed-down, country-tinged version features even a cello solo and the Ridgeway Sisters on background vocals.

  A fast, pop-rock number titled When the World Is Running down was written by Sting and recorded by the Police in 1980. “We recorded that in a particular key, because Sting was supposed to sing this song with me, but his plans changed. Miles Copeland wanted this to be a duet.”

  Almost as a throwback to Wendy’s earlier recorded music we are treated to three luscious slow songs. Subways Are for Sleeping is still rather soft and whispery – one of the co-writers is Lou Christie – but already on the pretty and mellow Don’t Turn Away Wendy has the Memphis Symphony Orchestra strings backing her up. “That was done without me being around.” The song was written by a Californian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist named Mindy Jostyn (1956-2005), who also later recorded it for her 2001 Blue Stories album.

  The closing song is a beautiful ballad with classical elements to it called It’s over Now. “This was written by Imogen Heap. She became a big star. She was only 17 years old, when she came from England to play piano on this song.” Strings were arranged by Paul Riser and played by members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Still in the liner notes Wendy thanks ‘Paco, the most important man in my life.’ “That’s David Santos, my guy.”


  Since 1993 Wendy has sung background and made guest appearances on numerous records. You can check the long list on her website at It reads almost like ‘who’s who’ in music business. Among the most notable records there’s All I Do (written by Stevie Wonder) with Kirk Whalum in 1998 and a groover called No Love to Be Found with Michael McDonald in 1997. “Singing with Michael McDonald face-to-face was amazing, like he’s the singers’ singer. Julio Iglesias is my number one, because he’s my mentor and he taught me the greatest parts of singing.”

  She sang also on Buddy Guy’s Skin Deep album in 2008 and a couple of later ones, too. “I don’t like some of those Buddy Guy records now. Some of them won him Grammys.” Other noteworthy artists that Wendy has collaborated with in the studio include Keith Washington, John Mayall, Joss Stone, Eric Clapton, Al Jarreau and Jeffrey Orborne. Because of Wendy’s huge popularity in Japan, she has recorded with some of local artist there as well. “I’ve done a few records in Japan. We recorded an EP, where I’m singing in traditional Japanese.”

  One thing that people tend to forget in Wendy’s case is the big amount of songs that you can find only on Various Artists compilations. She’s the featured vocalist on a number of such “hidden” tracks, and she easily alternates one style and mood with another.

  She is inspirational on All I Want to Be Is Understood, an exciting big ballad, produced by Michael J. Powell (on the March On album in 1993). Another power ballad is The Way That You Love Me (on the One Life to Live album in 1994).

  On The Sounds of Starry Nights, subtitled Holiday Favourites by Memphis Musicians (1995), she reconstructs Santa Claus Is Coming to Town into an almost funky dancer, and for all the sweet soul music lovers there’s a beautiful love song titled Still it’s You, a duet with Phil Perry, which derives from Carole Bayer-Sager Songbook in 1996.

  Not forgetting younger generation, there’s a poppy up-tempo number with a children’s choir called Feel the World Dancing, which first came out on the Sounds of a Better World album in 1999 and was released also as a single two years later (VR-CD-2006). “A friend of mine, Mr. Jim Papoulis out of New York City is an arranger and composer. He created a foundation for kids and I got involved in that. His music is the number one music worldwide for chorus music for elementary, junior high and high schools.”


  One fascinating song in Wendy’s recorded output is a beautiful love ballad called This Feeling I Have Is Love. “That was my first kind of gospel thing, because it’s on a gospel wedding compilation” (titled Take My Hand: Music for Weddings album on Light in 2003). Other fine ballads spread across various CDs include the pretty In Your Eyes, a duet with Sheila Houston in 2010, and the smooth Without You with saxophonist Michael J. Thomas in 2012. A duet with Scat Springs called The River is more country-tinged and even slightly rocky, while the down-tempo Tired features a big band jazz backing (both on Big Networks, Big Music compilations). Probably the most emotionally charged duet is the soulful and inspirational Someday with J.L. Jones. “That’s me and Jerry Jones. My sister was married to his brother.” Jerry is the owner of Marquell Music and a vocalist with a band called Home Grown Funk.

  “Then, of course, there’s the duet with Vince Gill, because he’s a country music icon. This Muscle Shoals project has everybody on it, all stars on it, and the fact that Vince wanted me to sing on it is amazing to me. I’m so happy he chose me to sing it with him. The CD, Muscle Shoals – Small Town Big Sound (, was released over a year ago on Dreamlined Records and the project revitalizes some of the past big hits of the area with current artists. True Love, Wendy’s duet with Vince, is one of the most beautiful moments on the CD.


  Wendy released her first full-length Christmas album titled Tis the Season on September 29 in 2009. “This was the first time I produced something on my own. I asked myself ‘what do I have to offer, what is my artistic interpretation?’ I was touring with Julio Iglesias at the time. The keyboard player and musical director on the CD is Clay Perry. I asked Clay, will he help me make this record? I would sing to him the things I would hear in my head like The Three Kings. I was in Turkey and I heard how I wanted that to sound. I just recorded it in my phone and he would take it, play and embellish it, because he’s a really great arranger. It was the first time I was trusting my instincts.”

  The album is like an intimate Christmas concert. The hymns and carols are interpreted in a very traditional way with minimum backing – Clay Perry is on piano - and with Wendy’s crystal clear voice dominating on this parade of slow and festive songs. Commercially the CD wasn’t a big success. “The idea for me was not to sell. The idea was to trust my instincts, to see what I got and finish it, and put it out. It did okay. When I play symphony shows, the CDs sell well.”


  One cannot help noticing that as long as a 13-year gap took place since the release of Wendy’s preceding album Life’s What You Make It prior to this new one. “It’s because of touring. Then Julio Iglesias found me, when my solo career just kind of wandered off a little. Then Daniel Abbote called. He saw me in a Marriott bar (see the first part of the story). ‘Hey, Julio Iglesias is looking for a girl to sing for duets and I see that you have a recording career.’ At EMI I was trying to get out of my contract. They didn’t know what to do with me, so why am I there. He heard about all this. I said ‘of course, I would love to do that.’ I figured out that I would stay for a couple of months and learn something from this living legend.”

  “They flew me to Atlantic City and gave me like two weeks to learn to do duets. At the sound check the first one was All of You, the one he did with Diana Ross (in 1984). He was standing behind me and he was singing a little bit but not really singing with me. He made me sing it three times in a row... and walked out of the stage. He didn’t say anything to me. I’m thinking ‘did I suck, or what happened?’ The musical director was like ‘congratulations!’ He told me that the first time Julio thought I was lucky singing it. The second time he thought I was lucky. The third time he said ‘she’s a great singer.’ So I was touring all the time with Julio.”

  “I’ve been to Europe so many times – to France at least seven or eight times, to Denmark and Sweden; and then to all of the South America, multiple times; Africa, both north and south, multiple times. I’ve been with Julio to Finland two times. I’ve noticed that when Julio does concerts there’s not like mass promotion, so I’m always wondering how do they sell the tickets. It’s like they hear about it, and the tickets are sold.”

  “After fifteen years I started to get burn-out, because everything started to look the same to me. Julio saw that, and that’s when he fired me (laughing). He let me go in 2011. But I came back this year and I played January-February-March. I was so happy, because I wanted to tell him how he changed my life and how he made me a better singer.”

  Although they’ve toured together for many, many years, turns out that their only recorded duet was a tender MOR ballad called Just Walk away, which was a track on Julio’s Romantic Classics album in 2006. Originally the song was cut by Celine Dion thirteen years earlier. “I was like ‘is this a message, just walk away’, but I think he just wanted to give me something, and I’m glad he offered me that.”

  Wendy hasn’t acted in movies, but she has been a frequent visitor to TV shows, both local and national like Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and Soul Train. “I was in the touring show Mama I Want to Sing.


  Richard Armstrong Whiting (1891-1938) is an acknowledged American composer, who wrote over 300 songs and who specialized in film scores ( Originally there was a plan for Paul Brown to produce and record a collection of Richard’s well-known songs as an instrumental project with possibly Wendy lending her vocals on one song, but she ended up singing on all of them. “We’ve been friends with Paul for a long time. He’s a contemporary jazz guru. Richard Writing Family Foundation wanted to put a record out, so I was commissioned to sing these songs, and it gave me a way to have an official CD, so I said ‘okay, I’ll do it.’”

  Released on May 27 in 2014 on Mark Nordman’s Woodward Avenue Records out of Florida, Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting introduces us to the jazzy and classy side of Wendy. Backed by Mitchel Forman and Tracy Carter on piano, Brian Bromberg and Roberto Vally on bass and Sinclair Lott on drums, she interprets in an elegant way ten Richard’s songs from the early 1900s. Seven of them were written for films.

  There are laid-back and jazzy slow numbers like the late-night My Ideal, a tad bluesy When Did You Leave Heaven?, the smoky He’s Funny that Way, the loungy Guilty and I Can’t Escape from You. Too Marvelous for Words and It’s a Long Time between Kisses are two Latin mid-pacers, while I Wanna Go Places and Do Things and True Blue Lou are swinging toe-tappers and Miss Brown to You is also a swinging remake of a Billie Holiday song. Wendy herself does the whistling on this track.


  “I just finished an Americana country record. We haven’t found a home for it yet. Vince Gill produced the record. It’s called I’ve Got You Covered. When I started touring with him in 2016, I knew it was a great honour and I didn’t want to mess it up, so I did my homework and figured out how to sing country music. I looked at traditional country artists like Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline and realised that they don’t smile when they sing. So I said ‘I want to be able to sing this country music just like they do on records.’” The CD will soon be available on Wendy’s website ( and other digital resources, but there’s no official release date yet.

  “The most valuable thing I learned was I finally figured out what kind of artist I am. I finally understood. I’m the type of artist that likes to sing everything. I did a show at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. It was my test to see, if I can put all the things I love in one show, and everything worked smoothly. So I finally realised I like all of it, I can do it all.”

  “I just want to continue to create art. I recognize that I’m not the singles type of person. I’m not the one that’s looking for a hit. I just want to sing great songs, songs that move me. Through this country project that’s what I was able to do. My goal is to create beautiful music and create a place for the listener to just exhale.”

Wendy interviewed by Heikki Suosalo, photo courtesy of Marjo Parjanen


(* denotes a single release)

CHRISTMAS TIME (EMI/Toshiba TOCP-8687) 1995 - EP

Christmas Time * / The Christmas Song / It’s Christmas / Change Of Heart / So Close To Love / Come In Out Of The Rain / Forever Yours


Life’s What You Make It *  / Subways Are For Sleeping / If You Don’t Love Me / People Got To Be Free / Stone Jumping / When The World Is Running Down * / Don’t Turn Away / Another Nothing Song / Believe In Love / It’s Over Now

TIS THE SEASON (Wendy Moten) 2009

Joy To The World / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / Little Drummer Boy / Silent Night / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Angels We Have Heard On High / Away In A Manger / O Holy Night / We Three Kings / Deck The Halls (Ye Llego La Navidad)


My Ideal / Miss Brown To You / When Did You Leave Heaven? / He’s Funny That Way / Too Marvelous For Words / Guilty / I Wanna Go Places And Do Things / I Can’t Escape From You / True Blue Lou / It’s A Long Time Between Kisses

© Heikki Suosalo

Back to Deep Soul Main Page
Back to our home page