Best of 2012: The Year In Review

Daddy B. Nice's #501 ranked Southern Soul Artist


Best of 2012: The Year In Review

January 1, 2013: Daddy B. Nice's


Quick question.

In what musical genre did the top two dozen performers fail to produce a significant hit single in the past year?

Quick answer.

Southern Soul music, where the most highly-acclaimed, perennially-productive recording artists--including Peggy Scott-Adams, Mel Waiters, Bobby Rush, Sir Charles Jones, Ms. Jody, Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle, David Brinston, O. B. Buchana, Willie Clayton, Donnie Ray, Barbara Carr, Theodis Ealey, T. K. Soul, Wilson Meadows, Jeff Floyd, Sheba Potts-Wright, Carl Sims, Omar Cunningham, The Love Doctor, Billy "Soul" Bonds, Stan Mosley, Roy C, Kenne' Wayne and Floyd Taylor--all failed to record a durable, signature single.

The good news was that a flood of new artists more than made up for the available space on the radio waves: Jaye Hammer, Katrenia Jefferson, RB & Company, Equanya, King Russell, Lady Audrey, Lomax, Choppa Law, Tucka, Donnell Sullivan, Jimmy Ja, Ms. Meme, Zeke, Leroy Allen, Alonzo Reid, Clayton Knight, Jesi Terrell, Lysa, Shaunda, Willie West, Vel Omarr, King Loverr, Bill Avery, Dave Morris, Lee Morris, Tommy Leveal, Big Yayo, Total Package Band, Lewis (Raw Shaw) Shaw, David (The Country Boy) Walker and Soul Unlimited featuring Ellis Blake, among others.

The power that these original sounds brought to the mike was underlined by the continued success of one of the previous year's unknowns, The Klass Band Brotherhood (featuring Nelson Curry), whose hit single, "Sugar Shack," was covered in 2012 by both Bigg Robb with Ms. Jackson ("Sugar Shack (Line Dance Remix)") and Shaunda ("Back To The Sugar Shack").

By any measure the new artists, often mentored by seasoned veterans like Mel Waiters and William Bell, created memorable new material, from the swinging melodies of Lomax ("Swing It") and Tucka ("Don't Make Me Beg") to the gritty soul-singing of Katrenia Jefferson ("That Thang") and Ellis Blake ("Try Me").

Peggy Scott-Adams, the lady who wrote the book on how to sing contemporary Southern Soul music, made her long-awaited comeback with the aptly-titled album Life After Bill and the single "Not Good Enough To Marry," but it was Jackson, Mississippi's forgotten diva of "Misty Blue" fame, Dorothy Moore, who made the bigger headlines with her own resurgent CD Blues Heart and the incandescent single "Institutionalize."

Not a few Southern Soul veterans veered away from the sweet-rocking, mid-tempo, Southern Soul of yesteryear in favor of a pounding, hard-edged, fast-tempo-ed sound: Jeff Floyd in "Using Me," T. K. Soul in "Ghetto Superstar," Sergio Davis in "Let's Go," Omar Cunningham in "Maintenance Man," Certified Slim in "Move Something," L. J. Echols in "Shake Something" and even Mel Waiters in (somewhat tellingly) "All I Want Is A Beat," with mixed results debated by yay-sayers and nay-sayers.

But the song that made the groove pay off in a big musical way was Dorothy Moore's "Institutionalize," arranged by the renowned Harrison Calloway. "The main recording location was Nashville, Tennessee," Moore told "Soul Express." "I couldn't find a studio here in Jackson (Ms.) that was built up to record live musicians."

Using programming like alchemy, however, was the recently-arrived-on-the-scene Big Yayo, fresh from his previous hit "Impala" with LaMorris Williams, who teamed up with the previously underground Jackson star Dave Mack on the dance-jam single Daddy B. Nice called "the song Dave Mack was born to sing," "Booty Talking."

It was a banner year for worthy remakes:

"Country Boy" by Sir Charles Jones (from Will T's "Mississippi Boy");

"Loving Each Other For Life" by Willie Clayton (from Methrone's original);

"Sugar Shack" by Bigg Robb w/ Ms. Jackson and "Back To The Sugar Shack" by Shaunda (from the Klass Band's original);

"Try Me" by Soul Unlimited featuring Ellis Blake (from the T. K. Soul original);

"They Got A Room" by Chuck Roberson (from the Jesse James/Millie Jackson original, "Let's Get A Room Somewhere");

"What About My Love" by Floyd Taylor (from the Johnnie Taylor original);

"I Forgot To Be Your Lover" by Tre' Williams & The Revelations (from the William Bell original);

"I Won't Let My Baby Down" by Lewis (Raw Shaw) Shaw (from the Lina original);

and "Love Mechanic" by Jesi Terrell (from the Willie Clayton original).

Lyrics weren't witty in 2012 as much as bizarre. In "Good Motor" L. J. Echols of "From The Back" fame outdid himself in both the homespun--

"They say my woman
Is too big for me.
They say LJ,
You need to let her be."

--And the metaphorically far-fetched:

"I know her headlights
Are not looking bright,

And I know her four tires
Are not looking tight."

The intrepid Echols also took a song that could have been called "Thought I Had A Handle On Love" and titled it "Peter Pumpkin Eater," erupting with a mad giggle at critical junctures in the verses.

The saga of Sir Charles Jones progressed fitfully with the song and video "Country Boy," a funky lounge-jazz cover of Will T's Southern Soul classic "Mississippi Boy."

"When is Sir Charles going to put out some new songs?" wrote one typical, entranced but impatient Jones fan in Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag earlier in the year, as if Charles hadn't recorded anything at all in the decade since "Friday" and "Is Anybody Lonely?"

Still, yet another year passed without a Sir Charles album. Nevertheless, the "Country Boy" video was eye candy for hardcore Southern Soul enthusiasts, Charles vamping in bib overalls with friends deep in the leaf-speckled Alabama woods.

Charles' gal-friend in the video, however, didn't look nearly as "grown-folks" as the fine lady sitting next to Vick Allen, head nodding, as he sang "Soul Music" in the video for arguably the best single of the year.

In fact, Vick Allen proved the exception to the rule amongst stars in 2012, notching a number-one tune less than two years after hitting number-one in 2010 with "If They Can Beat Me Rockin'".

Following in the footsteps of Jones, who has utilized YouTube for increasingly appealing videos of late, the "Soul Music" video also extended Allen's own great streak of videos ("If They Can Beat Me Rockin'" and "I Need Some Attention").

YouTube was the major story of the year, in terms of spreading the word about Southern Soul music, and the videos by Jones, Allen and others only made the music more seductive. And the advertising on YouTube became a powerful new revenue stream for recording acts, each click bringing in commissions. YouTube could become the sales engine of the future.

The words of the last verse of Allen's song pretty much summed up the reason these performers and many more kept swinging at the Southern Soul pinata in 2012:

"Now for the last few years
I've been trying to do my thing,
Up and down the highway
Somewhere trying to sing.

But when I leave this world
Here's what I want you to say.
Vick did his thing
In his own special way.

I love to sing
Good soul music."

--Daddy B. Nice

************* - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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