Ann Peebles was the lead female voice for Hi Records (producer Willie Mitchell’s Memphis-based imprint). Her keening, gospel-influenced style suited Mitchell’s minimalist R&B productions, and over the course of seven albums in the 70s, she created a discreet, often overlooked body of work. Born in St. Louis as the seventh child of eleven, her father Perry was a minister of music at the city’s First Baptist Church. Her vocal ability was first recognised at a school talent contest at the age of five, where she sang Will The Circle Be Unbroken. By nine, she had joined her family in The Peebles’ Choir and performed on the US gospel circuit supporting acts such as The Soul Stirrers featuring Sam Cooke. In 1968, after an impromptu performance at the Rosewood Club in Memphis with bandleader Gene ‘Bowlegs’ Miller, she was brought to the attention of Hi Records’ A&R man, Willie Mitchell. Her debut single, Walk Away, was written by Oliver Sain, whom she had worked with in St. Louis’ clubs. With its off-kilter electric timbale introduction, her 1973 recording, I Can’t Stand The Rain, co-written with her husband, Don Bryant, remains her best-known song. It had been covered by Tina Turner and re-interpreted by Missy ‘Misdemeanour’ Elliot as The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly). Peebles returned to gospel for most of the 80s, before reuniting with Mitchell in 1989 for her album, Call Me. In 2006, she released Brand New Classics, a collection of acoustic re-workings of her favourite songs.
Followers: Paul Young, Graham Parker, Missy ‘Misdemeanour’ Elliot
Influenced By: Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin...