James Phelps


James Phelps | Soul Cellar | tc079

James Phelps was born on April 2, 1932, in Shreveport, Louisiana and died on October 26, 2010 in New York City from complications of diabetes. He was an R&B and gospel singer who had sung in several gospel groups including the Gospel Songbirds, the Holy Wonders (with Lou Rawls) and the Soul Stirrers (with Sam Cooke) before starting his solo career in the 1960s. His single, “Love Is a Five-Letter Word”, on Argo Records in 1965, was his biggest success.

Rolling Stone notes: “Phelps was on the road with the Soul Stirrers in December of 1964 when he got word that Cooke had been killed in a California motel. “We talked to him that same night,” Phelps told Soul Cellar. “Our bus had broken down in Atlanta, Georgia. We called Sam and told him we needed some money because we were on our way to Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. Sam said ‘I’ll get back to you guys first thing in the morning.’ We found out about his death next day through the radio.””

Rolling Stone Obituary of James Phelps


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