Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)

Daddy B. Nice's #17 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century) by Daddy B. Nice
 



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"If I Back It Up"

Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)

Composed by Floyd Hamberlin




January 1, 2017:

Nellie "Tiger" Travis will perform “Slap Yo Weave Off” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Wednesday, January 18th!



Time: 11:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. NBC Studio, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York. 10:30 pm Central Standard Time.

See Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar.

*********
Note: Nellie "Tiger" Travis also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Nellie Travis's name in the headline is to distinguish her artist-guide entries on this page from her artist-guide page on Daddy B. Nice's original chart.

***********

January 27, 2013:

Daddy B. Nice's Updated Profile:


A website on the Internet now heralds the fact that the horn hook from the Floyd Hamberlin Jr.-written, Nellie Tiger Travis-sung, sex-in-the-club anthem "If I Back It Up" was actually sampled from KC & The Sunshine's Band "Boogie Shoes."

Well, that's true, but it's a stretch. Hamberlin slows it down and draws out the notes, giving them a totally different complexion. Your Daddy B Nice pointed out years ago that the Hamberlin-written, Travis-sung "M.O.D. (Man On Drugs)" appropriated the hook (the bass line) from Bruce Springsteen's "Fire."

In both cases, Hamberlin simply looked to the seemingly inexhaustible history of R&B for his initial inspiration, and we the audience are much the better off for it. Hamberlin begins "If I Back It Up" with the horns--that KC-derived hook--and then he runs it through instrumentally again, backed up with enhanced percussion and lead guitar. The sound is steaming--it's got a mid-song frenzy to it. There's Southern Soul swagger and sass all over that brass section hook. To even compare it to KC & The Sunshine Band's mere fillip is to demean its soulful, ecstatic groove.

"Oh yeahhh," is all Nellie says in a drawling, husky, city-of-big-shoulders voice-over. Finally, third time around, Nellie shows up and takes over the record, and her vocal reeks of power, sexuality, energy, toughness and experience.

Whenever I write about Nellie Tiger Travis, I begin with Floyd Hamberlin, Jr., because--like Peggy Scott-Adams with Jimmy Lewis--it's through this songwriter/producer's material that Nellie achieved greatness.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "If I Back It Up" on YouTube while you read.

Has a better female-to-male come-on ever been recorded?

"I've been dancing
In this club
All night long.
You've been sitting over there
Staring at me
Like something's wrong."

"Like something's wrong" is the perfect insight.

"I heard you holler,
'Back it up,'
And you gave me
That sexy smile.
You sure look
Good to me,
And I like your style."

Everything Nellie did pre-Hamberlin with the Chicago blues sound and everything she's done since with Dylann DeAnna, Carl Marshall, Simeo and others has been commendable but well within the ordinary parameters of the blues, distinguished primarily by the tough, clear vocals.

After all, Travis possesses one of the great blues voices and personalities of her generation, and she is (as she hints) in her tribute to Koko Taylor a worthy successor to the diva.

But it's "If I Back It Up" and the other classic, Hamberlin-written tunes--"I'm A Woman," "Man On Drugs," "You Gone Make Me Cheat," "Baby Mama Drama," "I Saw It On Oprah," "Slap Yo Weave Off"--that endears Travis to this and future generations of Southern Soul fans.

Nellie is the late, great Reggie P's female counterpart, vocally speaking. Like Reggie, Nellie hasn't recorded much, but what she has recorded is so deliciously gritty it will lurk near the top of any Southern Soul lover's rotation.

Your Daddy B. Nice heard from Floyd Hamberlin over a year ago with news that a new collaboration between him and Nellie "Tiger" Travis was in the works, but all I've received since then is a Christmas song, two years running now.

And unless Carl Marshall can do for Nellie what he did for Arthur Foy around 2005 with "(I'm Not Ready) Don't Stop My Party," I don't see anything noteworthy on the horizon in that direction.

Although there is an exception. Carl Marshall's passionately-written and produced "I'm With You Baby" is a revelation, and very much in that Arthur Foy tradition (or for that matter, the gritty, earthy tradition of Marshall's own "I Lived It All"). Carl's keyboard, guitar and production are satisfyingly lyrical and sweet, and Nellie once again comes off as a rock-and-rolling Southern Soul star.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm With You Baby" on YouTube.

Read more about Nellie "Tiger" Travis in Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Nellie Travis.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Nellie "Tiger" Travis (21st Century)

Nellie Travis was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Although reportedly a "tomboy" growing up (she was also a Homecoming Queen), she didn't pick up the nickname "Tiger" as a youth. That came later, as a result of a decision by Nellie to add something memorable to her performing name in the fashion of artists like Koko Taylor, Big Time Sarah, Big Cynthia and Little Kim Stewart.

One night (the story goes) while brainstorming the idea with her cousin, Nellie came up with the nickname "Angel." Nellie's cousin immediately rejected it. "How about 'Tiger'?" she asked. "Nellie 'Tiger' Travis?" It had a special ring and rhythm to it, and the nickname "Tiger" stuck.

As a child, Travis sang in church and local competitions throughout Mississippi, graduating to lead vocalist of a regional group called SSIPP, fronting touring R&B headliners) before moving to Chicago in 1992.

In Tyrone Davis' Windy City--and on overseas trips--Travis honed an act that featured classic blues and R&B favorites like Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle," Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary," material that amply showcased Travis' own powerful and gritty style. Her debut CD, an out-of-print blues-dominated disc titled I Got It Like That, appeared in 2000.

(Out-of-print copies of I Got It Like That (Tiger Belle 2000) can still be purchased at Amazon.com.)

Travis also published a collaborative blues CD in Japan called Heart And Soul (Bluesox 2000)

For Southern Soul fans, the most fortuitous development in Travis's career was her collaboration with Chicago-based, Southern Soul composer Floyd Hamberlin. Hamberlin had established a reputation as one of the most unique and prolific of the current generation of songwriters, having written everything from Artie "Blues Boy" White's classic "I Can't Afford To Be Broke" to Will T.'s "Mississippi Boy," along the way writing major portions of the Southern Soul catalogs of Tyrone Davis, Stan Mosley, Charles Wilson, Lee Morris and Cicero Blake.

Hamberlin was ready to produce a record and he approached Nellie "Tiger" Travis, and in late 2005 the CD Wanna Be With You came out on the Floyd Hamberlin/DA Man label.

Filled with first-rate Hamberlin songs executed by Travis in a strong and distinctive Southern Soul style, one track after another found favor with chitlin' circuit audiences, giving the album a high profile through 2005 and the entirety of 2006.

Besides garnering Nellie "Tiger" Travis a slew of awards (See Daddy B. Nice's Top Southern Soul Songs 2006), the album's depth and quality established Travis as one of the most visible young artists on the Southern Soul circuit.

Noteworthy singles included "If I Back If Up," "You Gone Make Me Cheat," "Baby Mama Drama," "Super Woman," "What You Won't Do" and "Who's Fooling Who?"

Travis was signed by the then-fledgling, Southern California label, CDS Records, for her next album, I'm A Woman (2008). The CD featured another series of memorable, Floyd Hamberlin-written tracks--"I'm A Woman," "Slap Yo Weave Off," "I Saw It On Oprah," "Man on Drugs" and "Don't Talk To Me"--all of which raised Travis's profile even more in the Southern Soul genre.

But the partnership between Travis and Hamberlin ended abruptly after the I'm A Woman CD, with neither party ever going on record with the reasons for the fall-out. CDS-associated producers Dylann DeAnna, Carl Marshall and Simeo Overall took over the musical direction of Travis's career, and Travis herself seemed to favor a return to the more mainstream blues market, culimnating in her tribute single to Koko Taylor, "Queen Of The Blues."

The single appeared on 2009's I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand (CDS), and in no less than two Koko-themed tracks in 2011's I'm Going Out Tonight (Benevolent Blues).

(The I'm Going Out Tonight CD was re-issued in 2012 in slightly-different form under the title There's A Queen In Me (CDS).)


Song's Transcendent Moment

"Now you want me
to back it up.
Are you serious?
Tell me,
Can you handle it?
'Cause I'm curious,
If I back it up,
What you gonna do?
If I put it on you,
What you gonna do?"


Tidbits

1. January 26, 2013:

Nellie "Tiger" Travis on You Tube:


Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "If I Back It Up" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "If I Back It Up" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "If I Back It Up" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm With You Baby" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Baby Mama Drama" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Baby Mama Drama" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Oil And Water" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Hoochie Coochie Man Medley" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "A Medley of Songs" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Super Woman" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Queen of the Blues (Tribute to Koko Taylor)" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm Going Out Tonight" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "The Thrill Is Gone" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Let The Good Times Roll" Live Onstage on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm A Woman" Live Onstage at the rain-soaked Chicago Blues Festival on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "Down Home Blues" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis singing "I'm A Woman" on "Straight Talk w/ W. L. Lillar-Hoston" on YouTube.

Listen to Nellie Tiger Travis talking with Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama on YouTube.

2.



Nellie "Tiger" Travis' "Mr. Sexy Man" came in for high praise in the 2013 "Daddies" (7th Annual) Southern Soul Music Awards. The Floyd Hamberlin-written and produced song was the winner of:

Best Club (Uptempo Dance) Song: "Mr. Sexy Man" by Nellie "Tiger Travis

....and the #2-ranking Southern Soul Song of the Year.

*******

3.


February 1, 2014:

Not to be mistaken for your mama's southern soul, 2013 was the year of Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man," called in many quarters the "number-one song" in America.
Even Medea (aka comedian Tyler Perry), boasted that the song--the result of Travis' reunion with writer/producer Floyd Hamberlin--was her favorite during a guest stint on The Steve Harvey show.

One of the keys to the song's popularity was the line in the chorus, "what-yo-name-is?" (which Medea mimicked perfectly), proving once again that good English grammar ("What is your name?") just doesn't (don't?) make sense in the world of blues.

Like a 100-year flood, "Mr. Sexy Man" crept into media outlets long known for eschewing southern soul music.

(from Daddy B. Nice’s 2013: The Year In Review)


********

4.


June 1, 2014: New Nellie "Tiger" Travis YouTube video

Watch Nellie "Tiger" Travis singing "Mr. Sexy Man" Live Onstage in Jackson, Mississippi on YouTube.

5.


October 19, 2014

Listen to the new official video of Nellie "Tiger" Travis singing "Mister Sexy Man" on YouTube. This is an incredible "live" video with Nellie and ladies dancing and coming onto the sexy men. You have never seen Nellie like this! Her best ever! DBN

*******


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Tina Turner's version of "Proud Mary," you'll love Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "If I Back It Up."




Honorary "B" Side

"Mr. Sexy Man"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy If I Back It Up by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
If I Back It Up


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mr. Sexy Man by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Mr. Sexy Man


CD: Mr. Sexy Man Single
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Wind Chime

Sample or Buy
Mr. Sexy Man Single


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Baby Mama Drama by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Baby Mama Drama


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Saw It On Oprah by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
I Saw It On Oprah


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm A Woman by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
I'm A Woman


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy M.O.D. (Man On Drugs) by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
M.O.D. (Man On Drugs)


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Slap Yo Weave Off by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Slap Yo Weave Off


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy You Gone Make Me Cheat by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
You Gone Make Me Cheat


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Don't Talk To Me by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Don't Talk To Me


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm With You Baby by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
I'm With You Baby


CD: I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Superwoman by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Superwoman


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Who's Fooling Who? by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Who's Fooling Who?


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Before You Grab This Tiger By The Tail by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Before You Grab This Tiger By The Tail


CD: I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Candy Girl by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Candy Girl


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Let's Get It Poppin' by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Let's Get It Poppin'


CD: I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Mama Didn't Raise No Punks by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Mama Didn't Raise No Punks


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Oil And Water by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Oil And Water


CD: Heart And Soul
Label: Bluesox

Sample or Buy
Heart And Soul


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Rock With You by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Rock With You


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Tornado Wrapped In Fire by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
Tornado Wrapped In Fire


CD: I'm Going Out Tonight
Label: Benevolent Blues/CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm Going Out Tonight


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy What You Won't Do by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis (21st Century)
What You Won't Do


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da' Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


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