Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brenda Holloway

Brenda Holloway (born June 21, 1946) is a singer and songwriter best known for her period as a recording artist for the Motown label during the 1960s and is best known for the soulful hits, "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy", which later became a pop smash by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Born in Atascadero, California, she grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles where she took up violin and sung in her church choir. At 14, she and sister Patrice Holloway began working on demonstration records and singing backup for local L.A.-based R&B acts. In 1962, Brenda made her recording debut with the single, "Poor Fool". That same year, she recorded the song that she would later be famously known for in the coming decades, "Every Little Bit Hurts".

After being overheard singing Mary Wells' "My Guy", Motown Records CEO Berry Gordy signed her to the label's Tamla imprint. For her first single, she was required to re-record "Every Little Bit Hurts" much to the budding singer-songwriter's chagrin. Released in May of 1964, "Every Little Bit Hurts" became a smash hit for Holloway reaching number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 helping to win the singer a concert spot on Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars tour. She followed "Every Little Bit Hurts" with the more modest follow-up, "I Will Always Love You", before hitting the top forty again with the number 25 pop hit, "When I'm Gone", released shortly after now-former Motown star Mary Wells' Motown contract expired. Wells ironically recorded "When I'm Gone" before Holloway. Motown produced Holloway with songs that were originally recorded by Wells including "Operator" and "I'll Be Available". She became a fixture to several sixties television shows including Shindig! and later was asked by The Beatles to open for them on their U.S. tour in 1966.

She performed in the first rock stadium concert at Shea Stadium for the Beatles as their opening act. Holloway was only one of three female acts who opened for the Beatles including Mary Wells and Jackie DeShannon. Despite her modest success, Holloway felt out of place at the Detroit-based label. Being the first West Coast-based artist on the label, she also was one of the few female artists in Motown to write her own songs and had a much grittier approach to songs than her contemporaries in the label.

Between 1966 and early 1968, she recorded a string of singles that was to be put on her second album, Hurtin' & Cryin'. Its first single was "Just Look What You've Done", which hit the top 30 on the R&B chart. Its follow-up would have a stronger span: the Holloway co-penned "You've Made Me So Very Happy", was one of the few singles written by Holloway allowed to be released. Upon its release, the single peaked at number 40 on the pop chart and number 39 on the R&B chart. Its momentum was stopped when Holloway suddenly left Motown in 1968. A year later, Holloway received royalties for "You've Made Me So Very Happy" when jazz-rock troupe Blood, Sweat & Tears took it to number 2 on the US pop chart and the top 40 in the UK. A year afterwards, Holloway retired from performing.

For more than ten years, she married a pastor and became a housewife while occasionally singing with her sister Patricia. In 1980, she briefly stepped out of retirement to record a gospel album. She divorced her husband shortly afterward, and returned to performing secular music in 1988 recording for the UK label, Motorcity Records. In 1990, she issued the album, All It Takes. After the 1992 death of her friend, Mary Wells, from throat cancer, she came out of retirement from performing and has since kept a healthy performing schedule while recording sporadically. Her most recent album was the 2003 recording, My Love is Your Love. Her vocals, alongside her sister's, were prominently featured in the background of Joe Cocker's hit version of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends". In the UK, she's regarded as a "Northern Soul legend" while in the U.S., she's often considered the "lost" Motown artist among other Motown acts that didn't get the recognition that many felt they deserved. Still, she is looked upon as a "sixties Motown legend". Find out more at:

Research info gathered at:

No comments: