If you don’t count Claudette Robinson, the 29 year old insurance agent turned blues singer Mable John is the true First Lady of Motown. Older sister of Willie “Fever” John, Mable took up secular singing later, eventually opening for Billie Holiday during the last few months before the jazz legend died. Although Mable was the first, her more mature oriented recordings were similar to efforts by Marie Knight and Theola Kilgore in the early 60s. Mable had an even tougher time adapting to more youthful fare, while being surrounded by popular teens up to half her age at Motown. Berry Gordy released her from her contract in 1963, freeing her to replace Margie Hendrix in The Raelettes. She took a 3 year break from the group to record (and score her biggest solo hit) with Stax in 1966, and she leads the biggest hit The Raelettes had without a Ray Charles credit as well. Today, we wish the legendary Dr. Mable John a happy 88th Birthday.
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