Joyce Kennedy had considerable commercial success in the 70s and 80s as a founder member of the Atlanta based “Mother’s Finest” aggregation and a solo performer. Sadly the music that she made at that stage of her career leaves me absolutely stone cold. But the tracks she cut in her earliest years in the business are much more to my taste.
Joyce Washington was born in Anguilla, MS around 1948 but moved to Chicago as a child. She was still at school when she cut her first record under the supervision of Andre Williams for Ran-Dee a label owned by Roy Love, Udie Coffman and Phil Rifkin. Not surprisingly Joyce sounds rather young on Darling I Still Love You but her breathy delivery and delayed phrasing are already right in the pocket. The arrangement is minimalist – just a rhythm section dominated by a triplet piano – but tone colour is provided by a very strong chorus. The little rap in the middle is fine too, accompanied by a meandering flute. This track had some success in the Windy City and really deserves to be better known now.
Joyce’s second 45 for Ran-Dee isn’t a patch on this one, and her Fontana single isn’t either, but when Williams took her material to Blue Rock things looked up considerably. The pounding “I’m A Good Girl” is a dance floor pick to this day, but I prefer the oddly named The Hi Fi Albums And I. This is a fine example of Windy City deep soul, full of nice touches including the trombones which give a great bottom end to the track, the brass section blaring away, and best of all Kennedy’s wracked, desperate vocal. Unfortunately for real soul fans this was to be her last release of any consequence.
You can find a full discography of Joyce's career here.
Note ~ You can find "My hi fi albums and I" and "Does anybody love me" on the Mercury CD "The Blue Rock Records Story".
Thanks to Kees Smalagange for the lovly photo.