Scorpio Serenade: Baby Washington


Ok, I’m sorta an astrology buff, and one singer that to me reflects the magnetic, focused power of a Scorpio woman, a mythical Plutonian figure cast into a 45rpm record, it has to be the dark moody brood of Miss Justine “Baby” Washington.

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Born November 13th, 1940, she started off as one of the mythical beings shifted in and out of the Doo-Wop Girl Group outfit The Hearts (a shifting cast of many women under the control of Zell Sanders, the first African American female record company owner). She stepped out on her own in 1959, scoring her first solo hit, “The Time” and eventually moved on to Sue Records to cut many a moody dark classic, notably the first version of the world weary “That’s How Heartaches Are Made”

She was cited by Dusty Springfield as one of her top 5 influences in her shift from Folk & Roll to Blue Eyed Soul, and, like I said before there is something mystical, entrancing, and extremely intense about Baby Washington’s voice. It might have to do alot with her deep alto range, slightly wavy watery vibrato and sometimes deliberate phrasing… or the tendency for alot of her 1963-65 recordings to be bathed in a wash of intense strings…

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…or the fact that she’s a Scorpio, a astrological sign of fixed determination, death and rebirth. The Astrological sign of the Phoenix.

Sometimes listening to her songs, that Phoenix like determination comes through, like her sincerity to never, ever let go that comes through in “Whos Gonna Take Care of Me” and its follow-up “It’ll Never Be Over For Me.”

Slightly sounding like a shaman, a mystic from a parallel universe, or a Creole Witch Woman casting a voodoo spell on you, you can only sit by and listen, entranced under Baby’s spell.

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