Soul singer Martha High and Osaka Monaural drop tribute album to James Brown’s divas [stream entire album]
As a member of the group the Jewels, singer Martha High first met James Brown in 1964 when they went on tour with Soul Brother No. 1. While her group broke up soon after, Martha stayed with Brown, singing with him throughout the next few decades.
Italian label Record Kicks has teamed Martha up with Japanese funk outfit Osaka Monaural and recorded a tribute—Tribute to My Soul Sisters, dropping November 17—to her late boss and the funky divas Brown groomed like Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney.
“I looked up to these ladies of soul,” says Martha, “Given the opportunity and the pleasure to perform their songs, is my way of saying: thank you, you’re not forgotten. To record the music of the Funky Divas, would mean a lot to Mr. Brown. He always wanted the world to know he had powerful women on stage that could hold his crowd while he was off the stage. They were just as powerful and funky as he was.”
Stream the entire album early:
Funky diva Martha High has been an integral part of James Brown’s life and career for more than 30 years. The idea for Tribute to My Soul Sisters was hatched back in 2014, when Martha was visiting producer DJ Pari, head honcho of the Soulpower organization and manager of soul legends like the Impressions, Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney.
Without further ado, following DJ Pari’s advice, Martha partnered up in Tokyo with one of the hottest names of the new funk renaissance: Japan’s Osaka Monaurail. Martha could not have chosen a better band for this mission. Deeply influenced by the work of James Brown, Bobby Byrd, and Curtis Mayfield, and with nine albums under their belt, Osaka Monaurail have been leading the international funk scene for more than two decades, appearing at festivals such as Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival and Womad’s, as well as recording and touring with funk legends like Marva Whitney and Fred Wesley.
This unique collaboration gives new life to 13 soulful pearls, masterfully interpreted as only an Original Funky Diva can do. To name a few: “Think (About It),” made famous by the female preacher Lyn Collins; “Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own,” Anna King’s answer to Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”; “This Is My Story,” of which Martha recorded the original version with the Jewels; and the soul classic “Answer to Mother Popcorn” by Vicki Anderson.
Born in Victoria, Virginia, and discovered by rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, Martha started her career with the soulful, legendary doo-wop group the Four Jewels, with whom she scored the national hit “Opportunity” in 1964. Soon, the Jewels caught the attention of James Brown and joined the James Brown Revue in 1966. The Godfather of Soul recorded and released several songs featuring The Jewels until the group disbanded. Nevertheless, Martha stayed with James Brown and continued to work with him as his personal vocalist for 32 years. She was with him at the Boston Garden during the iconic 1968 gig after Martin Luther King’s assassination. She was by his side when he performed at renowned Rumble in the Jungle event in Zaire. Mr. Brown produced several of Martha’s singles on his own People label such as “Georgy Girl,” “Try Me,” and “Summertime.” Meanwhile Martha launched her solo career in 1979 with the self-titled debut LP for Salsoul Records. Since, she has released five albums under her name and, being one of the “hardest working women in show business”, she became one of the leading singers of saxophonist Maceo Parker’s legendary funky music machine, working with him for 16 years.
Throughout her career Martha has shared stages worldwide with iconic artists like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson and George Clinton. Martha has been carrying the torch of soul music for her whole life, like a true soul sister.
TRIBUTE TO MY SOUL SISTERS EURO TOUR
25.11.2017 BIKO Milano, Italy
26.11.2017 New Morning (Officiel) Paris, France
28.11.2017 Mojo Club, Hamburg, Germany
29.11.2017 Schlachthof Wiesbaden, Germany
30.11.2017 Under the Bridge, London, UK
01.12.2017 Espace Julien, Marseille, France
02.12.2017 Le JAM Montpellier, France
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