Melba Moore – 1971 – Look What You’re Doing to the Man
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A great early soul set from Melba Moore – recording here as a much more righteous vocalist than on her previous theater performances in Purlie and Hair! The album’s got a solid feel all the way through – one that really sets Moore on the right path in this side of her career, in ways that maximize the most righteous aspects of her vocals without going too far over the top, or into the area of showy cliches. Arrangements are by Charles Coleman, Charlie Calello, Jimmy Wisner, Thom Bell, and Bert DeCoteaux.
Melba Moore was born in New York to the saxophonist Teddy Hill and the Soul songstress, Bonnie Davis (who had a number 1 R&B hit with the song ‘Don’t Stop Now‘, recorded and released before Melba was born).Melba was raised in Harlem up until the age of nine. Her mother then remarried a jazz pianist named Clement Moorman. Melba attended Newark Arts High School in New Jersey and graduated from college, working as a music teacher. She then changed her name, adopting her middle name as her performing identity, and began her musical career. Her first break came in 1967 as a member of the original cast of the musical ‘Hair’.
A1 Look What You’re Doing to the Man 2.45
A2 Searching for a Dream 3.00
A3 Medley: Walk a Mile in My Shoes / Twenty Five Miles 4.05
A4 Patience Is Rewarded 3.50
A5 You Got the Power (To Make Me Happy) 2.46
B1 If I Had a Million 3.16
B2 He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother 4.08
B3 Heaven Help Us All 3.15
B4 The Thrill Is Gone 3.22
B5 Loving You Comes So Easy 4.05
Teaming up with Ronnie Dyson and Diane Keaton, Melba replaced Keaton in the role of Sheila, the first ever point a black actor replaced a white actor in a leading role on Broadway.Three years later saw Melba winning a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in ‘Purlie’, in which she portrayed the character, Lutiebelle. In 1970, the albums ‘I Got Love’ and ‘Look What You’re Doing to the Man’ were released.
Melba then co-starred with her partner, the actor Clifton Davis, in the couple’s own successful variety television series in 1972.The couple then went their seperate ways and her career began facing problems after her managers and accountants left her in 1973. Melba returned to Newark where her career picked up following meeting record manager and business promoter Charles Huggins. The two were married in 1975, with the couple forming Hush Productions, later signing Freddie Jackson and Meli’sa Morgan to the company ranks.
The same year Melba began concentrating on her singing career, signing with Buddah Records and released the album ‘Peach Melba’ 1976 saw her biggest chart success with the Van McCoy-penned song ‘This Is It’.‘This Is It’ reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top twenty position on the R&B chart and also made the top ten in the U.K.
Also that year, she received her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad, ‘Lean on Me’ (a song originally recorded by Aretha Franklin). In 1977 the album ‘A Portrait Of Melba’ was released, which contained the popular McFadden & Whitehead, penned and produced, dancer ‘Standing Right Here’ (the song was later to appear in a remixed format on 1979’s, ‘Dancin’ With Melba’ album). A brief return to the stage arrived in 1978 when she appeared (as Marsinah), along with Eartha Kitt in ‘Timbuktu!’, but left the show after a few weeks and was replaced by Vanessa Shaw.
That year also saw a label move to the Epic Records imprint for ‘Melba’ (including ‘Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance’ (U.K. Top 50, 1978) and ‘Hard Not To Like You’).In 1979, Melba had a hit with the Bee Gees penned ‘You Stepped Into My Life’, which reached the top 20 on the R&B charts. The same year Melba recorded ‘Burn’, which featured the dancer ‘Night People’. The following year, she recorded the Bruce Hawes and Victor Carstarphen produced album ‘Closer’, which featured the dancer ‘Something On Your Mind’.’What A Woman Needs’ saw the light of day in 1981 (produced by McFadden & Whitehead), and realised another label move to Capitol Records and included the song ‘Let’s Stand Together’.
1982 saw huge success with the release of the album ‘The Other Side Of The Rainbow’, an album that featured the songs ‘Love’s Comin’ At Ya’ (U.K. Top 20 and produced by Paul Lawrence Jones III and Kashif), ‘Mind Up Tonight’ (U.K. Top 25) and ‘Underlove’ (U.K. Top 75). The following year ‘Never Say Never’ was released, and featured ‘Love Me Right’, ‘Keepin’ My Lover Satisfied’ and ‘Livin’ For Your Love’ (an album including further collaborations with Kashif). ‘Read My Lips’ was released in 1985, and included ‘When You Love Me Like This’ and ‘King Of My Heart’.
In 1986, she received two number-one R&B hits, including the duet, ‘A Little Bit More’, with Freddie Jackson and the hugely popular stepper, ‘Falling’.’I’m In Love’ followed in 1988, which included ‘Love And Kisses’ and featured duets with
Freddie Jackson and Kashif. 1990 saw the release of ‘Soul Exposed’, which included ‘Do You Really Want My Love’. In 1991, Melba received divorce papers from Huggins, and later found that her personal savings with Huggins, as well as Hush Productions, had all disappeared, leading to her having to file for bankruptcy.
In 1995, she landed a role in the Broadway version of ‘Les Miserables’.In 1996, with her affairs in order, she began recording again, releasing ‘Happy Together’ (with the Lafayette Harris Jr. Trio) and ‘I’m Still Here’ in 2002.In 2003, she was featured in the film, ‘The Fighting Temptations’, which also starred Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles.By the end of the decade, Melba was performing live shows and recorded a duet album with the ex-Montclairs vocalist, Phil Perry. ‘The Gift Of Love’ was released on the Shanachie imprint. Melba is a born again Christian, and recorded a couple of Gospel based sets during the new millennium.