Thursday, June 5, 2008

Payin' Homage

"Hello, may I speak to Barbara
Barbara, this is Shirley
You might not know who I am
But the reason I am calling you is because
I was going through my
Old man`s pockets this morning
And I just happened to find your name and number
So woman to woman

I don`t think it`s being anymore than fair
To call you and let you know
Where I`m coming from..."

Opening monologues are apart of many soul songs, Aretha's "Angel," "I Stand Accused" by Isaac Hayes and Gladys Knight & The Pips "The Way We Were/Try To Remember" are a few. However, no opening monologue is a memorable as the opening rap on Shirley Brown's love triangle melodrama "Woman to Woman." The million selling "Woman to Woman" brought her instant fame in 1974. "Woman to Woman" told the story of a woman calling "the other woman" Not only did Shirley call the other woman but she told her like it was. Shirley made it clear she was standing by her man, right or wrong. "Woman to Woman" was the last hit record for Memphis based Stax Records. At the time Stax was facing mounting legal and financial woes. "Woman to Woman" prompted Barbara Mason to release the answer record "From His Woman To You."

Shirley Brown was born January 6, 1947, in West Memphis, Arkansas and grew up in St. Louis. Like so many soul singers, Shirley's musical foundation is deeply rooted in the church. Much like Aretha and Donny, Shirley was well known in gospel circles as a child. She entered the St. Louis soul scene in her late teens and recorded regional hits "I Ain't Gonna Tell" and "Love Is Built On A Strong Foundation." Shirley would eventually land a contract with Stax Records, where she recorded her debut album Woman to Woman. The song "Woman To Woman" was initially offered to Inez Foxx, she turned it down. Unfortunately, Shirley's career never took off like it should have. Stax folded in 1975, and Shirley found herself at Arista Records. Her Arista debut, Shirley Brown, produced the lackluster singles "Blessed Is the Woman (With A Man Like Mine)," "Givin' Up, and "I Can't Move No Mountains." In 1979 Shirley resigned with the resurrected Stax and released the unsuccessful The Real Feeling. For the past 19 years, Shirley has called Malacco Records home where she has received minor success with the releases, Intimate Storm, Timeless and Diva of Soul. Her most recent album, Woman Enough, was released in 2004.