Jerry L.

Daddy B. Nice's #79 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Jerry L. by Daddy B. Nice
 



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"Girls In The Hood"

Jerry L.

Composed by John Cummings & Jerry L. Minnis


A less-is-more guy, Jerry L. has a disarming way of singing and shaping a song. He's not out to impress. His aesthetic approach is entirely casual: less to impress, more to insinuate himself into your world by a subtle kind of mutual identification.

Jerry L. aims to sound humble, like just another guy "off the street," even though it takes his own special technique to sound that unrehearsed and unschooled. The tension in his songs comes not so much in how brilliant the technique might be--as say, a Sir Charles or Bobby Rush vocal might be--but in how genuinely off-hand it sounds.

And the perfect material for Jerry L.'s laid-back mojo, honed over several "preliminary" albums, came in 2006 with "Girls In The Hood," the definitive, grown-folks style, Southern Soul "girls from the hood" song.

Like so many underground Southern Soul classics, the instrumentation is programmed and the production is nothing to write home about. But--also like so many other Southern Soul classics--you know that slicking it up "urban" style would ruin its charm and credibility.

"Girls In The Hood" has all the substantive parts: a good melody line, a rocking mid-tempo rhythm, a nicely-done background chorus and last but not least, lyrics that mince no specifics in rising to the highest level of satire.

"I've been up and down
And around the world.
Ain't seen nothing better
Than a good old Southern girl."

Fairly innocuous, so far. The fun and anthem-making commences with--

"Country raised.
Cornbred fed.
Gold teeth in her mouth.
Blonde weave in her head.

Walking tall.
Talking loud.
Everybody knows
When a hood girl comes around.

Apple bottoms
Always gripping her tight.
When she steps out on the scene
She can sure work it right."

It gets even better: micro-mini-skirts, trips around the wall, going to the clubs, thugs and so on--but all done in that relaxing, porch-swinging rhythm, with Jerry L.'s soothing, country-tinged, everyman voice interpreting it all.

"Two Steps Behind," "Girls In The Hood's" companion piece from Jerry L.'s Daily Love album, finds the performer delivering another patented less-is-more treat. Like a cowboy perpetually at risk of falling off his horse, Jerry's vocal slips and slides through lyrics centered on a flummoxed, put-upon man begging for a little mutual admiration from the apple of his eye.

"You put love in my heart.
You were a player
Right from the start.

I can't be one,
And I sure can't be two.
I got to find
Something better to do.

Let me tell you
What I'm going to do.
All them other men
They can have you.

I can't be
Two steps behind.
Girl, I can't be
Two steps behind."

The subtle joke of the song is that the hero is willing to be "number two" on his enamored's list of lovers. He's just unwilling to be "number three."

Jerry L. gives the vocal all the nuances of the best country-western singers, with whom he shares many of his techniques. At the same time, his voice is fixed firmly in the black music tradition, giving the tune a double-edged appeal further enhanced by the rich wash of a vintage female background chorus.

Jerry L. remains one of the more obscure performers on the chitlin' circuit. He's never scored a deal with even a "major" Southern Soul indie label (Malaco, Ecko, CDS., etc.) and has never benefited from the promotional publicity that many younger and more aggressive performers--with or without a label--take as a responsibility and a right.

At the same time, Jerry L.'s particular approach to music--humble, casual, non-confrontational, light and often humorous--is tailor-made for the kind of novelty songs that often achieve widespread popularity.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Jerry L.

Jerry L. Minnis, aka Jerry L., was born December 5, 1958 in Memphis, Tennessee and remains a native of the area.

"My oldest sister was a great singer," Jerry L. told Heikki Suosalo of "Soul Express" in an interview in 2001. "She loved to sing, but she never did it professionally. She formed a family gospel group called the Minnis Family, where she had me as a background singer.

"I had no interest in being a singer at all at that point, but she would always play these records--anything ranging from Brook Benton to Johnnie Taylor--all day, everyday, and these songs just kinda stayed in my heart.

"My favourite back when I was growing up would be Sam Cooke. I enjoyed a lot of Stax artists also--Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, the Soul Children--because that was the big thing happening in Memphis then.

"When I heard this one guy named McKinley Mitchell sing a song called 'The End Of The Rainbow' (in '77 on Chimneyville), at that point I knew then that I wanted to sing the blues. I formed a group in 1980 called Reliance. I still work with that unit right now. It's my band."

Active musically since the late 80's, Jerry L. (the "L" stands for "Lewis") released his first solo album, Something Special, on the E & J label in 1997.

In 2001 Jerry L. recorded The Last Word In Lonesome for the Soultrax label. Produced by respected studio master Quinton Claunch, the CD included many of the signature songs that Jerry L. would continue to include on future collections: "I Wanna Make Love," "Half-Loving Me," "Too Poor To Die" and "Ease It To Me."

Nasty, recorded on the Suzie Q/Mi-Jay label in 2002, added two or three durable songs to the Jerry L. catalog: "Do The Nasty," "Age Is More Than A Number" and "Lil' Willie."

After The Party, recorded in 2004 for the Ryan label, recycled songs from NASTY and previous albums. But it wasn't until Jerry L. released Daily Love (Mi-Jay, 2006), that he began to get serious air play beyond the Memphis market.

Daily Love's two most prominent singles, "Girls In Da Hood" and "Two Steps Behind" (a cover of an O. B. Buchana tune recorded on O.B.'s first album in 1999, also covered by Charles Wilson) established the performer's name on the chitlin' circuit.

Collector's Piece (Mi-Jay, 2007) gathered tunes from earlier discs into a generous 17-track overview, and in 2010, Let It Ride appeared on the Brimstone label.

Jerry L. Discography:

Something Special (E&J, 1997)

Last Word In Lonesome (Soultrax, 2001)

Nasty (Mi-Jay/Suzie Q, 2002)

After The Party (Ryan, 2004)

Daily Love (Mi-Jay, 2006)

Collector's Piece (Mi-Jay, 2007)

Let It Ride (Brimstone, 2010)


Song's Transcendent Moment

"They got those
Apple-bottom blue jeans on.
They turned this hood
Into a booty zone.

Girls in the hood,
Sure be looking good to me."


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked O. B. Buchana's "Back Up Lover," you'll love Jerry L.'s "Girls In the Hood."




EDITOR'S NOTE

Over the last year I've been dropping hints to the younger musicians.

"Be watching because there's going to be something coming on the site that'll be a real blessing for the younger people."

And I've also been telling a lot of deserving new artists to bide their time, that their day to be featured in a Daddy B. Nice Artist Guide was coming, and long overdue.

Now, at last, the day has come.

The great Southern Soul stars are mostly gone. There's a new generation clamoring to be heard.

Rather than waiting years to go online as I did with the original Top 100, this chart will be a work-in-progress.

Each month five new and never-before-featured artists will be showcased, starting at #100 and counting down to #1.

I estimate 50-75 new Artist Guides will be created by the time I finish. The other 25-50 Guides will feature artists from the old chart who are holding their own or scaling the peaks in the 21st Century.

Absent will be the masters who have wandered off to Soul Heaven. And missing will be the older artists who for one reason or another have slowed down, become inactive or left the scene.

The older generation's contributions to Southern Soul music, however, will not be forgotten.

That is why it was so important to your Daddy B. Nice to maintain the integrity of the original Top 100 and not continue updating it indefinitely.

(Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul covered the period from 1990-2010. Daddy B. Nice's new 21st Century Southern Soul will cover the period from 2000-2020.)

When I constructed the first chart, I wanted to preserve a piece of musical history. I heard a cultural phenomenon I was afraid might be lost forever unless I wrote about it.

There will be no more changes to the original chart. Those performers' place in Southern Soul music will stand.

But I see a new scene today, a scene just as starved for publicity and definition, a scene missing only a mirror to reflect back its reality.

The prospect of a grueling schedule of five new artist pages a month will be daunting, and I hope readers will bear with me as I gradually fill out what may seem at first inadequate Artist Guides.

Information from readers will always be welcome. That's how I learn. That's how I add to the data.

I'm excited to get started. I have been thinking about this for a long time. I've already done the bulk of the drawings.

In a funny way, the most rewarding thing has been getting back to doing the drawings, and imagining what recording artists are going to feel like when they see their mugs in a black and white cartoon. Hopefully----high! An artist hasn't really "made it" until he or she's been caricatured by Daddy B. Nice.

In the beginning months, the suspense will be in what new stars make the chart. In the final months, the suspense will be in who amongst the big dogs and the new stars is in the top twenty, the top ten, and finally. . . the top spot.

I'm not tellin'.

Not yet.

--Daddy B. Nice

Go to Top 100 Countdown: 21st Century Southern Soul


Honorary "B" Side

"Two Steps Behind"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Girls In The Hood by  Jerry L.
Girls In The Hood


CD: Daily Love
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
Daily Love


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Two Steps Behind by  Jerry L.
Two Steps Behind


CD: Daily Love
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
Daily Love


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Age Is More Than A Number by  Jerry L.
Age Is More Than A Number


CD: Collectors Piece
Label: Mi-Jay

Sample or Buy
Collector's Piece


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Wanna Make Love by  Jerry L.
I Wanna Make Love


CD: Collectors Piece
Label: Mi-Jay

Sample or Buy
Collector's Piece


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy That's My Woman by  Jerry L.
That's My Woman


CD: Last Word In Lonesome
Label: Soultrax

Sample or Buy
Last Word In Lonesome


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me by  Jerry L.
The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me


CD: Last Word In Lonesome
Label: Soultrax

Sample or Buy
Last Word In Lonesome


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Daily Love by  Jerry L.
Daily Love


CD: Daily Love
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
Daily Love


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Do The Nasty by  Jerry L.
Do The Nasty


CD: Collectors Piece
Label: Mi-Jay

Sample or Buy
Collector's Piece


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Half Lovin' Me by  Jerry L.
Half Lovin' Me


CD: Last Word In Lonesome
Label: Soultrax

Sample or Buy
Last Word In Lonesome


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Lil' Willie by  Jerry L.
Lil' Willie


CD: Daily Love
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
Daily Love


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Oops That's My Bad by  Jerry L.
Oops That's My Bad


CD: Daily Love
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
Daily Love


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy That's How Strong My Love Is  by  Jerry L.
That's How Strong My Love Is


CD: Last Word In Lonesome
Label: Soultrax

Sample or Buy
Last Word In Lonesome


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