Born: Tuscaloosa, AL

R&B Vocals

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Like so many African-American singers who defected from the church for a tantalising taste of secular pastures, cult soul siren Rozetta Johnson became disillusioned with the music business and eventually returned to her gospel roots. It could have been different if the Alabama-born chanteuse had been able to build a career on the back of her 1970 Billboard chart entry, ‘A Woman’s Way’, which grazed the R&B Top 40. Co-helmed by budding R&B tunesmith Sam Dees, the record – a striking, plaintive mid-tempo ballad - was issued on producer Clinton Moon's Clintone label, then distributed by mighty Atlantic Records. Johnson followed up her debut chart entry with an even stronger Dees-penned song, 'Who Are You Gonna Love (Your Woman or Your Wife),'a spouse's heartfelt plea to her cheating husband. One of several outstanding tracks on this new 16-track compilation, 'Who Are Gonna Love…' for all its musical merits failed to crack the R&B Top 40 on its release and sadly, all subsequent 45s that Johnson cut for the label in the next few years sank without trace. Rozetta's vocals are already plenty darn great on their own, sharp-edged, and presented with a level of class that almost reminds us of Chicago or Detroit singers from the time, but in the hands of Sam Dees, she really hits the sublime. Working with incredible lyrics that go far beyond the usual southern soul cliches, and getting some backings that are equally free from the obvious, she definitely goes in the upper-echelon of sophisticated soul. This truly superlative 16-track compilation features all seven of Johnson’s Clintone singles, as well as several previously unissued sides from the archives. The most salient of these is the up-tempo ‘You Better Keep What You Got’, which combines Johnson’s raspy gospel hollers with a propulsive disco beat. There are also two previously unissued cuts, 'For That Man of Mine' and 'Mama Was a Bad Seed.' The material and Johnson's performances are consistently strong, with her original version of '(I Like Making That) Early Morning Love' - later covered by Gwen McCrae – catching the ear along with uptempo workouts like 'I Can Feel My Love Comin'. This compelling cache of '70s Southern soul is undoubtedly one of the best soul compilations released in recent years. Miss it and weep.


More Info:

Video: Rozetta Johnson(Holding the Losing hand)



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