Ok, before you really start wanting to debate me about talking about Lesley Gore of all people as my first person to discuss, let me remind you that her breakout smash, “It’s My Party” was a #1 R&B hit, along with taking the pole position on the Pop Charts.
Apparently the “Race record” market in 1963 could really dig a petulant Jewish Teen getting in a huff about some heffa cutting in and stealing her man. When you look at it from that perspective, “It’s My Party” is no different than I’d say, 22% of all R&B music cut by women (regardless of ethnicity) since World War II. Maybe I’m exaggerating that number… slightly…
I’m also going to make the argument that as she got older she strayed into a lot of Blue eyed soul veins (Her My Guy My Town and Me Lp is filled with at least 6 tracks that would be considered Uptown Soul… otherwise you could imagine the songs being passed on to Maxine Brown to do some serious damage on), and as she grew up she learned how to use a variety of shadings to her voice, and developed a larger, more powerful voice.
My exhibit will be this recording from the end of her tenure at Mercury Records called “One by One”
She builds, following the lyric of stripping down the “walls” between her and the person she’s falling for, and by the end of the song is in the midst of one of her most passionate performances I’ve heard. No longer the 16-17 year old on “It’s My Party” she’s now the 22 year old young woman, possibly getting in touch with her burgeoning Lesbianism (that’s just a theory, but hey, having a sexual breakthrough or two might change the way you sing… )
So, yeah.. Lesley Gore: Soul Singer. Don’t call me a heretic, I haven’t tried to convince you Connie Francis is a soul singer…. yet.