Who was/is Lorraine Ellison ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Stay With Me
Stay With Me
Blessed with a rafter-rattling voice that seemed sent from heaven above, Lorraine Ellison never enjoyed the chart success her talent deserved. The magnificent Stay With Me was her biggest seller, an #11 R&B entry that only made it to #64 pop.
The Philadelphia native was born Marybelle Luraine Ellison on March 17, 1931 and sang in church from age six. Along with her sisters, brother, and cousins, she was a member of The Ellison Singers, who made their recording debut for Savoy's Sharp imprint in 1962. After a name switch to The Golden Chords, they contributed four songs to the next year's 'Introducing the Sweet Chariot,' cut live by Columbia at a New York nightclub of the same name. But Lorraine went secular in 1965, landing a contract with Mercury through The Enchanters' Sam Bell, who became her manager.
With Leroy Glover arranging, she debuted on Mercury with the R&B hit I Dig You Baby for producers Dennis Lambert and Lou Courtney, encoring with Call Me Anytime You Need Some Lovin'. Bell steered Ellison to Jerry Ragovoy, who had produced Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters' '63 smash Cry Baby. Ragovoy got Lorraine a deal with Warner Bros. and co-wrote Stay With Me with George Weiss for her first session in New York. Then he got a call from a label exec explaining a Frank Sinatra session had been canceled, and a 45-piece orchestra was available if he had an artist that could use it. Two sleepless days later, Ragovoy had his arrangements copied for all those strings and horns (Garry Sherman directed), and he brought Lorraine into A&R Studios. Her emotionally charged performance matched the majesty of Ragovoy's orchestrations.
Ragovoy kept trying to launch Ellison, writing Heart Be Still with frequent cohort Bert Berns. It made some chart noise in 1967 on Loma, Warners' R&B subsidiary. In '68, Lorraine waxed Try (Just A Little Bit Harder), the work of Ragovoy and Chip Taylor, for Loma (Janis Joplin would soon pick up on it). After splitting with Ragovoy, Ellison ventured to Muscle Shoals for a 1970 session, and made an eponymous '74 LP for Warners in L.A. for producer Ted Templeman without ever locating that elusive key to mainstream acceptance. She mostly sang in church after that and died of ovarian cancer on January 31, 1983.
- Bill Dahl -
Various - Sweet Soul Music
Various - Sweet Soul Music 29 Scorching Classics From 1966
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