Who was/is Yvonne Fair ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Yvonne Fair

Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On 

Yvonne Fair

Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On 

A whole lot better than her surname suggested, Yvonne Fair was sexy, bold, and blessed with a great set of pipes. That made her downright excellent.

Born Flora Yvonne Coleman in Richmond, Virginia on October 21, 1942, she was raised in the Bronx and preferred her middle name. Yvonne idolized Etta James. Early on, she married Leroy Fair; the marriage wouldn’t last long, but the surname did. Yvonne joined The Chantels in 1961, when they were still enjoying their last hits on Carlton Records. At 19, she waxed her first solo single for King in 1962 while with James Brown’s revue. I Found You was a prototype for his ’65 mega-smash I Got You (I Feel Good). Neither that promising platter nor three more for King and a ’63 outing on Miami’s Dade Records put her on the commercial map. Not only did James produce her early output, he gave Yvonne a daughter. 

That romance went on the rocks, but Chuck Jackson threw the dynamic singer a lifeline, hiring Yvonne as part of his revue and bringing her along when he signed with Motown. Fair recorded unissued sides at Hitsville (including duets with Chuck), patiently waiting to see a fresh release until 1970. Her Harvey Fuqua-produced Stay A Little Longer on Motown’s Soul logo sank without trace. Fair married Sammy Strain of Little Anthony and The Imperials and later of The O’Jays in ’72. A small but memorable role in the 1973 Billie Holiday biopic ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ preceded Norman Whitfield producing the bulk of Yvonne’s long-delayed debut album for Motown. It bore the provocative title ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and its cover photo showed her wielding a whip.

The set’s aptly titled Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On, penned by producer Whitfield and Barrett Strong, gave Yvonne her long overdue first R&B chart entry, peaking at #32 during the summer of ’74. Edwin Starr had previously nailed a #6 R&B seller with the tune in 1971, and The Temptations had gone to #27 R&B with it the next year (Whit recycled his copyrights). Those others didn’t have Marvin Gaye adding vocal interjections the way Fair’s aggressive L.A.-cut reading did. Two more Whitfield-penned tracks from ‘The Bitch Is Black’ subsequently charted: Walk Out The Door If You Wanna and Love Ain’t No Toy.

Pancreatic cancer permanently stilled Yvonne’s sensuous voice on March 6, 1994. She was only 51. Nothing fair about that.

- Bill Dahl -


Various - Sweet Soul Music 23 Scorching Classics From 1974

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