Otis Clay

Last updated
Otis Clay

OtisClay LBBF1997 2.jpg

Clay in 1997.
Background information
Birth name Otis Lee Clay
Born(1942-02-11)February 11, 1942
Waxhaw, Mississippi, U.S.
Died January 8, 2016(2016-01-08) (aged 73)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres R&B, Soul, Blues, Soul Blues, Gospel
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1957–2016
Labels One–Derful Records
Cotillion
Hi
Bullseye Blues
Blind Pig
Echo Records
Associated acts Gene Chandler
Website otisclay.net

Otis Lee Clay [1] (February 11, 1942 – January 8, 2016) was an American R&B and soul singer, who started in gospel music. In 2013, Clay was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. [2] [3]

Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

Contents

Early life

Clay was born in Waxhaw, Mississippi to a musical family, who moved in 1953 to Muncie, Indiana. After singing with local gospel group, the Voices of Hope, he returned to Mississippi to sing with the Christian Travelers, before settling in Chicago in 1957. There, he joined a series of gospel vocal groups including the Golden Jubilaires, the Famous Blue Jay Singers, the Holy Wonders, and the Pilgrim Harmonizers, before making his first solo secular recordings in 1962. They were unissued, and Clay joined the Gospel Songbirds, who recorded in Nashville in 1964 and who also included Maurice Dollison who sang R&B under the name Cash McCall, and then the Sensational Nightingales. [4]

Waxhaw, Mississippi Unincorporated community in Mississippi, United States

Waxhaw is an unincorporated community located in Bolivar County, Mississippi, United States. Waxhaw is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Gunnison and approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Rosedale. It was also known as Waxhaw Plantation.

Muncie, Indiana City in Indiana, United States of America

Muncie is an incorporated city and the seat of Delaware County, Indiana. It is located in East Central Indiana, about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Indianapolis. The United States Census for 2010 reported the city's population was 70,085. It is the principal city of the Muncie metropolitan statistical area, which has a population of 117,671.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Career

In 1965 Clay signed with One-derful! Records in Chicago, to make secular recordings. [5] After releasing a series of gospel-tinged soul records, his first hit came in 1967 with "That's How It Is (When You're In Love)", which reached # 34 on the US Billboard R&B chart, followed by "A Lasting Love" (# 48 R&B). [6] In 1968 the record company folded and his contract was bought by Atlantic Records, who launched their subsidiary Cotillion label with Clay's version of the Sir Douglas Quintet hit, "She's About A Mover", produced at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. The record became Clay's biggest pop hit, reaching # 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 (# 47 R&B). However, follow-ups on Cotillion, including "Hard Working Woman" produced by Syl Johnson, and "Is It Over?" produced by Willie Mitchell in Memphis, were less successful. [4] [6]

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

The Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart ranks the most popular R&B and hip hop songs in the United States and is published weekly by Billboard. Rankings are based on a measure of radio airplay, sales data, and streaming activity. The chart had 100 positions but was shortened to 50 positions in October 2012.

A record chart, also called a music chart, is a ranking of recorded music according to certain criteria during a given period of time. Although in the UK, the official chart has only included physical sales and paid-for streaming, many different criteria are used in worldwide charts, including record sales, the amount of radio airplay, and since the popularity of online consumption of music, the number of downloads and the amount of streaming activity.

Clay moved to Mitchell's Hi Records in 1971, and made many of his best known soul blues records for the label. His biggest hit came in late 1972 with "Trying To Live My Life Without You," a #102 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, #70 on Cash Box, and #24 R&B, which he followed up with "If I Could Reach Out". "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You" was later covered by Bob Seger, whose version hit #5 on the pop chart in 1981. [7] After several more Hi singles and the album I Can't Take It, Clay moved to Kayvette Records, where he had his last national hit single in 1977, "All Because Of Your Love" (#44 R&B). [4] [6] He later recorded for the Elka and Rounder labels, as well as his own Echo Records for whom he recorded the original version of "The Only Way Is Up" in 1980. [8]

Hi Records was an American soul music and rockabilly label started in Memphis, Tennessee in 1957 by singer Ray Harris, record store owner Joe Cuoghi, Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch, and three silent partners, including Cuoghi's lawyer, Nick Pesce.

Soul blues is a style of blues music developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s that combines elements of soul music and urban contemporary music. Singers and musicians who grew up listening to the traditional electric blues of artists such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed and Elmore James; soul singers such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Otis Redding; and gospel music wanted to bridge their favorite music together. Bobby Bland was one of the pioneers of this style. This is a subgenre of blues that is very popular with African American audiences but less known by white audiences. The style continues to be popular in the new millennium.

Cash Box was a music industry trade magazine, originally published weekly from July 1942 to November 1996. Ten years after its dissolution it was revived and currently continues as Cashbox Magazine, an online magazine with weekly charts and occasional special print issues.

He remained a popular live act in Europe and Japan, as well as the US, and recorded three live albums, Soul Man: Live in Japan, Otis Clay Live (also in Japan on Victor VDP-5111), and Respect Yourself, recorded live at the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland. [4] [5] In the 1990s he also recorded two soul albums for Bullseye Blues: I'll Treat You Right and the Willie Mitchell-produced This Time Around. In 2007, he recorded the gospel album Walk a Mile in My Shoes. [7]

He was a nominee for a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. As a resident of Chicago's West Side, he was actively involved in community-based economic and cultural initiatives, including the development of The Harold Washington Cultural Center. [5] On August 11, 2012 he was one of several acts that performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors Summer Concerts in New York City. He was backed by the band Platinum. Clay was joined on stage for the finale by William Bell and Teenie Hodges. Clay was one of the 2013 inductees to the Blues Hall of Fame. [2] In 2015 Otis published with Billy Price the album This Time For Real.

Grammy Award accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

Harold Washington Cultural Center

Harold Washington Cultural Center is a performance facility located in the Grand Boulevard community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It was named after Chicago's first African-American Mayor Harold Washington and opened in August 2004, ten years after initial groundbreaking. In addition to the 1000 seat Com-Ed Theatre, the center offers a Digital Media Resource Center. Former Chicago City Council Alderman Dorothy Tillman and singer Lou Rawls take credit for championing the center, which cost $19.5 million. It was originally to be named the Lou Rawls Cultural Center, but Alderman Tillman changed the name without telling Rawls. Although it is considered part of the Bronzeville neighborhood it is not part of the Chicago Landmark Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District that is in the Douglas community area.

William Bell (singer) singer

William Bell is an American soul singer and songwriter. As a performer, he is probably best known for his debut single, 1961's "You Don't Miss Your Water"; 1968's top 10 hit in the UK "Private Number", a duet with Judy Clay; and his only US top 40 hit, 1976's "Tryin' to Love Two", which also hit No. 1 on the R&B chart. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song "A Tribute to a King".

During 2015 Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls won the Blues Blast Award for Soul Album of the Year for their album "Soul Brothers". "Soul Brothers" was also nominated for Blues Music Awards Soul Album of the Year and Living Blues Magazine Blues Album of the Year. It was selected as the #6 Blues Album of the Year in the Downbeat Magazine Critics’ Poll, being the only soul album on the list of top 20 albums.

Death and funeral

On January 8, 2016, Clay died in Chicago, Illinois, at the age of 73 of a heart attack. [9] Clay's funeral was held on January 16, 2016 at the Liberty Baptist Church in Chicago. After the funeral, he was buried at the Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago. [10]

Discography

Albums

[11]

Charting singles

Related Research Articles

Al Green American singer

Albert Leornes Greene, often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Take Me to the River", "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still in Love with You", "Love and Happiness", and his signature song, "Let's Stay Together". Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum's site as being "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music". He has also been referred to as "The Last of the Great Soul Singers". Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 65, as well as its list of the 100 Greatest Singers, at No. 14.

The Staple Singers American gospel, soul, and R&B singing group

The Staple Singers were an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group. Roebuck "Pops" Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha, Pervis, and Mavis. Yvonne replaced her brother when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and again in 1970. They are best known for their 1970s hits "Respect Yourself", "I'll Take You There", "If You're Ready ", and "Let's Do It Again". While the family name is Staples, the group used "Staple" commercially.

Bobby Bland American soul & blues musician

Robert Calvin Bland, known professionally as Bobby "Blue" Bland, was an American blues singer.

Johnnie Taylor American soul-blues and pop singer

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was a three-time Grammy-nominated American recording artist and songwriter who performed a wide variety of genres, from blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel to pop, doo-wop, and disco.

Jerry Butler American soul singer and songwriter

Jerry Butler, Jr. is an American soul singer-songwriter,producer, musician, and retired politician. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the R&B vocal group the Impressions, as well as a 1991 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Since leaving The Impressions, Jerry has had over 55 Billboard Pop & R&B Chart Hits as a solo artist, including some 15 Top 40 Pop Hits in the Hot 100, and 15 R&B Top 10's. He served as a Commissioner for Cook County, Illinois, from 1985 to 2018. As a member of this 17-member county board, he chaired the Health and Hospitals Committee, and served as Vice Chair of the Construction Committee.

Gene Chandler American musician

Gene Chandler is an American singer, songwriter, music producer and record label executive. He is known best for his most successful songs "Duke of Earl" and "Groovy Situation" and his association with The Dukays, the Impressions and Curtis Mayfield.

Dorothy Moore American musician

Dorothy Moore is an American blues, gospel, and R&B singer best known for her 1976 hit song, "Misty Blue".

Otis Rush American blues guitarist

Otis Rush Jr. was an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. His distinctive guitar style featured a slow-burning sound and long bent notes. With qualities similar to the styles of other 1950s artists Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and was an influence on many musicians, including Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.

The Impressions are an American music group originally formed in 1958. Their repertoire includes doo-wop, gospel, soul, and R&B.

Cotillion Records was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and was active from 1968 through 1985. The label was formed as an outlet for blues and deep Southern soul; its first single, Otis Clay's version of "She's About a Mover", reached the R&B charts. Cotillion's catalog quickly expanded to include progressive rock, folk-rock, gospel, jazz and comedy. In 1976, the label started focusing on disco and R&B. At that point, Cotillion's catalog albums outside those genres were reissued on Atlantic.

Maurice White American musician, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire

MauriceWhite was an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and arranger. He was the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire; served as the band's main songwriter and record producer; and was its co-lead singer with Philip Bailey.

Joe Louis Walker Blues musician

Joe Louis Walker, also known as JLW is an American musician, best known as an electric blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. His knowledge of blues history is revealed by his use of older material and playing styles.

Candi Staton American soul and gospel singer

Canzetta Maria "Candi" Staton is an American singer–songwriter, best known in the United States for her 1970 remake of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" and her 1976 disco chart-topper "Young Hearts Run Free". In Europe, Staton biggest selling record is the anthemic "You Got the Love" from 1986, released in collaboration with the Source. Staton was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. Staton is a four-time Grammy Award nominee.

Overton Vertis "O. V." Wright was an American singer who is generally regarded as a blues artist by African American fans in the Deep South; he is also regarded as one of Southern soul's most authoritative and individual artists. His best known songs include "That's How Strong My Love Is" (1964), "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" (1965), "Nucleus of Soul" (1968), "A Nickel and a Nail" (1971), "I Can't Take It" (1971) and "Ace of Spades" (1971).

Malaco Records

Malaco Records is an American independent record label based in Jackson, Mississippi that has been the home of various major blues and gospel acts, such as Johnnie Taylor, Bobby Bland, Z. Z. Hill, Denise LaSalle, Benny Latimore, Dorothy Moore, Little Milton, Shirley Brown, Tyrone Davis, Marvin Sease, and the Mississippi Mass Choir. It has received an historic marker issued by the Mississippi Blues Commission to commemorate its important place on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Baby I Love You (Aretha Franklin song) 1967 single by Aretha Franklin

"Baby I Love You" is a popular song by R&B singer Aretha Franklin. The only single release from her Aretha Arrives album in 1967, the song was a huge hit, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and spending two weeks at number-one on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart. It was featured in Martin Scorsese's 1990 film Goodfellas. A live recording featured on the album Aretha in Paris (1968). There have been several other famous musicians who have covered Aretha Franklin's "Baby I Love You", such as Lisa Marie Presley in 1989, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack in 1972, B.B. King, The Bar-Kays in 1971, Erma Franklin in 1969, Irma Thomas in 1988, and Otis Rush in 1969 and various other musicians. In 2012, Christine Anu covered the song on her album, Rewind: The Aretha Franklin Songbook.

Mitty Lene Collier is an American church pastor, gospel singer and former rhythm and blues singer. She had a number of successful records in the 1960s, of which probably the best known is "I Had A Talk With My Man".

Jimmy Hughes (singer) American former rhythm and blues singer

Jimmy J. Hughes is an American former rhythm and blues singer, whose biggest successes in the mid-1960s, notably his hit "Steal Away", were important in the early development of the Muscle Shoals music industry.

Cash McCall (musician) American electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter

Cash McCall was an American electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was best known for his 1966 R&B hit "When You Wake Up". Over his long career, his musical style evolved from gospel music to soul music to the blues.

References

  1. Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 204. ISBN   978-0313344237.
  2. 1 2 "2013 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Announced". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  3. "Otis Clay, Soul and R&B Singer, Dies at 73". The New York Times . The Associated Press. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Blind Pig Records". Blind Pig Records. 1942-02-11. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  5. 1 2 3 "Biography". Otis Clay. 1942-02-11. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  6. 1 2 3 Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 83.
  7. 1 2 Biography by Bill Dahl (1942-02-11). "Otis Clay | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  8. "Otis Clay - The Only Way Is Up / Special Kind Of Love (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  9. Mervis, Scott. "Soul legend Otis Clay dies at 73". Post-gazette.com. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  10. "Funeral for Otis Clay". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  11. "Otis Clay". Soulbluesmusic.com. 1942-02-11. Retrieved 2016-01-19.