Ann Nesby

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

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"Put It On Paper (w/ Al Green)"

Ann Nesby

Composed by Timothy Lee, Herb Middleton, Ann Nesby, and Michael and Jamal Orr

January 1, 2010: Author's Forward:

Ann Nesby is one of the most under-rated of soul divas. Only Shirley Brown among her contemporaries possesses the expressive and technical capacities of this former gospel great. Her records continue to fly under the radar for the majority of Southern Soul disc jockeys, probably because she does not cater to any of the chitlin-circuit themes of the day (see the critique below). And yet no one, not even the great Aretha Franklin herself (most recently seen on "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert), recalls the breathtaking vocal agility of vintage Aretha.

Most recommended for chitlin' circuit devotees is the uncharacteriscally Southern Soul-steeped experience of 2007's overlooked This Is Love CD, in which Ann delves into all the everyday themes of contemporary rhythm and blues with a gusto and mastery only a handful of current female stars can deliver.

Fans can buy MP3's of Ann's 2009 gospel CD,
The Lula Lee Project. The album is the perfect Sunday afternoon record to transition from morning services to the week's secular agenda.

Last but not least,Ann Nesby's Soulful Christmas DVD, although too late for the holiday just passed, is what every fan of Christmas quietly appreciates: a compendium of traditional Christmas music done in a manner to make a soul traditionalist swoon.

--Daddy B. Nice


Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:

Blues and Gospel are the high-country headwaters--the musical sources--of all rhythm and blues, and just as Southern Soul would be unthinkable without bluesmen like Little Milton, R. L. Burnside, and B. B. King, so too would it be unfathomable without gospel artists like Al Green, Keisa Brown and--perhaps foremost amongst today's gospel/soul practitioners--Ann Nesby.

The longtime reigning diva of the gospel supergroup, Sounds Of Blackness ("Hold On"), Ann Nesby has never been reluctant to sing R&B, or to ply her trade in studio work in the secular arena, as long as the material was not morally reprehensible. How fitting then that her secular masterpiece, "Put It On Paper," tackles one of the most intractable issues of contemporary life, out-of-wedlock marriage, with a ferocity not often seen outside the annals of gospel music.

Ann Nesby's "Put It On Paper" owes much to the Reverend Al Green's influence as both a gospel music star and Hi Records' resident R&B genius in the early seventies. Green pushes Nesby as no other singer ever has, and together they negotiate heights of musical brilliance seldom seen in Southern Soul.

As Nesby warns in her intro:

"I'm a little old-fashioned.
That's the way it is with me.
I'm in love with one man,
And I know he's feeling me."

As surprising as the righteousness of the message in the midst of all the cheatin', freakin', and creepin' that typically fills Southern Soul's subject matter is the clarion-clear production and arrangement, as brilliant (and unlike Southern Soul's "rough" technical mainstream) as fine crystal compared to plastic.

"Things are getting kinda serious,
When there's no one else around.
I ain't into shacking up,
So we gotta lock it down.
We gotta put it on paper."

The beauty of Ann Nesby's "Put It On Paper" is that it nails down the respectful, church-going Everyman (and woman) of contemporary black American life, and in so doing weaves the traditional goodness, fairness and probity of the ordinary working man and woman into the otherwise wild and fantastic fabric of Southern Soul R&B. And the brilliance of the song is that its sentimental message to "marry me" (although it's never put that way) takes on an excitement that the 21st century listener usually associates with the scandalous or irreverent.

The artistic decision to give the ballad a full-blown gospel treatment was crucial. Only the gospel form allows for the pumped-up, heartfelt passion that longtime gospel diva Ann Nesby is able to give it. At times, if you drift off mentally and come back to the song, it sounds like early-sixties Aretha Franklin had come through a time warp.

The addition of the Reverend Al Green to sing call-and-response was a masterstroke. Although he no longer possesses the technical power to quite match Nesby's, Green's tenacious, lacerated vocal provides the perfect masculine complement to Nesby's heroine. Green's hero echoes Nesby in his desire to do the right thing.

"Wait a minute,
I want to respect you,
And love you every night.
The only way I can do that
And feel good
Is make you my wife."

Musically, "Put It On Paper" has carved out a substantial niche on the Southern Soul trophy shelf, as can be seen by its influence on such subsequent acts as Mack Davis and B. J. Miller, whose "Bill," a huge chitlin' circuit hit in 2004, uses the same formula. In both cases the barbershop harmonies and scintillating arrangements are saved from slickness by the gospel-inspired vocals. "Put It On Paper" is one of the most successful Gospel forays into R&B since Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come."

--Daddy B. Nice

About Ann Nesby

Ann Nesby began her career in the Grammy Award-winning gospel recording act, Sounds of Blackness. She was listed as Ann Bennett-Nesby (one of six sopranos) on the influential 1991 album, Evolution of Gospel, that made Sounds Of Blackness a familiar name to R&B fans in the early 90's. The CD was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and three songs from the album crossed over into the top reaches of the R&B charts in 1992.

Nesby branched out into secular music as a backup vocalist on CD's by artists like Janet Jackson (another Jam & Lewis client), Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle through the mid-nineties, while continuing as lead-singer for Sounds Of Blackness and contributing (along with many other Gospel artists) to the 1995 Tribute To Rosa Parks CD (Jive).

Finally, in 1996, Ann Nesby released her first solo album, I'm Here For You (Perspective, 1996), whose title cut was a minor "urban-smooth" hit. Her recording activity waned somewhat until, in 2002, Nesby released Put It On Paper (Universal). "Put It On Paper," with Al Green sharing vocals, became a solid hit all across the Stations of the Deep South.

Make Me Better, Nesby's third solo effort (RT./ It's Time Child), appeared in 2003 and featured gospel material. More recently, she has returned to the studio with a vengeance, contributing to various tribute albums and soundtracks (most prominently The Fighting Temptations (Sony, 2004) and singing back-up vocals on various albums. Nesby reunited with Sounds Of Blackness as lead vocalist for the well-received CD Unity (Lightyear) in 2005.

Ann Nesby's Discography:

1996 I'm Here for You (Perspective)

2002 Put It on Paper (Universal)

2003 Make Me Better (Entertainment)

2006 In the Spirit (Shanachie)

2007 This Is Love (Shanachie)

2009 The Lula Lee Project (Tyscot)

Song's Transcendent Moment

"It's not that I don't love you,
'Cause you know that I do.
There's only one thing I want you to do.
Put it on paper."


1. November 27, 2006. Ann Nesby has a new, top-notch gospel album out. In The Spirit was released by Shanachie Records in April of this year.

2. November 30, 2007. This Is Love is an excellent collection of vintage-sounding Southern Soul tracks by the melodious-voiced Ann Nesby.

If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you loved Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," you'll like Ann Nesby's "Put It On Paper."

Honorary "B" Side

"I'll Be Your Everything"

5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Put It On Paper (w/ Al Green) by Ann Nesby
Put It On Paper (w/ Al Green)

CD: Put It On Paper
Label: Universal

Sample or Buy
Put It On Paper

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'll Be Your Everything by Ann Nesby
I'll Be Your Everything

CD: I'm Here For You
Label: A&M

Sample or Buy
I'm Here For You

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Can't Stop Praisin' His Name by Ann Nesby
Can't Stop Praisin' His Name

CD: Make It Better
Label: RT./It's Time Child

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Grandma's Hands by Ann Nesby
Grandma's Hands

CD: In The Spirit
Label: Shanachie

Sample or Buy
In The Spirit

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Can't Explain It by Ann Nesby
I Can't Explain It

CD: This Is Love
Label: Shanachie

Sample or Buy
This Is Love

4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Sky Is The Limit by Ann Nesby
Sky Is The Limit

CD: Lula Lee Project
Label: Tyscot

Sample or Buy
The Lula Lee Project

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Advice by Ann Nesby

CD: Put It On Paper
Label: Universal

Sample or Buy
Put It On Paper

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Ann Nesby's Soulful Christmas DVD by Ann Nesby
Ann Nesby's Soulful Christmas DVD

CD: Ann Nesby's Soulful Christmas DVD
Label: Tyscot

Sample or Buy
Ann Nesby's Soulful Christmas DVD

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Apologize by Ann Nesby
I Apologize

CD: This Is Love
Label: Shanachie

Sample or Buy
This Is Love

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Tonight's The Night (w/ Big Mike) by Ann Nesby
Tonight's The Night (w/ Big Mike)

CD: Put It On Paper
Label: Universal

Sample or Buy
Put It On Paper

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Unity by Ann Nesby

CD: Unity
Label: Lightyear

3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Where Would I Be by Ann Nesby
Where Would I Be

CD: Put It On Paper
Label: Universal

Sample or Buy
Put It On Paper

2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy The Stone (w/ Shirley Caesar) by Ann Nesby
The Stone (w/ Shirley Caesar)

CD: The Fighting Temptations
Label: Sony

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