Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin | White House | tc113

Aretha Franklin wipes a tear after being honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, during ceremonies at the White House, Washington DC, USA. Present are fellow recipients Robert Conquest, left, and Alan Greenspan. Wikipedia

Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942 to a religious and musical family. Her first recordings were of gospel music, made while she was in her teens. Her father was The Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin. She was born in Memphis but the family moved to New York when Aretha was 2, and then to Detroit. Her singing career has been remarkable; she had a total of 88 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, making her the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Her recording of “Precious Lord” was released on Checker records.

Miss Franklin died on August 16, 2018.

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack | Jamie-James Medina | tc114

Robert Dwayne Womack was born on March 4, 1944 and died on June 27, 2014. He was a recording artist, song writer, session musician and singer. He had a period as Sam Cooke’s backing guitarist, and sang with the family group The Valentinos, before launching his solo career. His life has not been without controversy.

Mr. Womack, nicknamed the Preacher for his authoritative, church-trained voice and the way he introduced songs with long discourses on life, never had the million-record success of contemporaries like Pickett, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Otis Redding. His sandpaper vocal style made him more popular in England, where audiences revere what they consider authentic traditional American music, than in the United States.

, writes Paul Vitello in the New York Times.


Bobby Womack performing in Amsterdam in 1976 | Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns | tc115

Checker records released his solo single “I found a true love”, which was also a hit for Wilson Pickett.

This post was amended on 30 June 2014.

Gene Barge


Gene Barge | Downbeat | tc116

Gene Barge was born on August 9, 1926 and is a well known tenor and alto saxophonist and composer. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia. His name appears as composer on many soul and blues recordings; he also recorded for Chess Records in the 1950s to 1960s.

Jimmy McCracklin


Jimmy McCracklin | Public domain | tc117

James David Walker (Jimmy McCracklin) was born on August 13, 1921 and died on December 20, 2012 age 91, after a long illness. After serving in the Navy he started a musical career which lasted for decades. He is regarded as one of the most important musicians to have emerged from the California music scene. His first big success was “The Walk” for Checker records, which was issued around 1958. His last public performance was in 2007.

Jake Mitchell


Jake Mitchell | Randy Batista/Gainesville Downtown, Florida | tc602

Little Jake Mitchell returns Friday for the lead-off concert of the series’ celebration of African-American Music Appreciation Month in June.

Little Jake Mitchell might not describe himself this way, but the 68-year-old singer is a one-man standard-bearer for June’s designation as African-American Music Appreciation Month.

At the age of 12, he recorded for Chess Records in Chicago, went on the road as a featured part of B.B. King’s show and performed with the likes of Ray Charles, James Brown, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye.

Mitchell’s own history includes the time his band in 1960, Little Jake and the Blenders, became the first African-American act to perform at the University of Florida’s Gator Growl.

Having that experience under his belt gives him a special perspective to embrace performing before large, appreciative crowds some 50-plus years later.

“We want everybody to be able to say, ‘What a wonderful time we’re having; we can sit together, and we can enjoy music together.’

Jimmy Ruffin


Jimmy Ruffin | Amazon | tc118

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1939 and is best known for his Tamla Motown recording “What becomes of the broken hearted”. He found success in America hard to sustain and moved to the United Kingdom, signing with Polydor and Chess Records, living in the UK permanently during the 1980s, but returned to America where he died on November 17, 2014.

Mr Ruffin became an anti-drug advocate following the 1991 drug overdose death of his younger brother David Ruffin, a former lead singer with The Temptations.

Lee Andrews and The Hearts


Lee Andrews and The Hearts | Soulwalking | tc119

Lee Andrews and The Hearts were formed in 1953 in Philadelphia. Their main successes came in 1957 and 1958, Teardrops and Long lonely nights. The line up was Lee Andrews, Roy Calhoun, Tammey Currey, Ted Weems and Wendell Calhoun.

Arthur Lee Andrews Thompson was born on June 2, 1936 and died on March 16, 2016.