Known for her self-penned Top 10 hit song “Yes, I’m Ready” in 1965, sweet-voiced Barbara Mason exemplified the “Philly soul” during the 60s. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-born Mason mostly wrote her own material which comprised of songs (by the 1970s) that tackled subjects like romance and infidelity with frankness never heard before. Mason also had other minor hits such as “Sad, Sad Girl,” “Bed and Board,” “From His Woman to You,” “I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife,” “Oh, How It Hurts” and others.
Early life; recording career at Crusader and Arctic
Barbara Mason was born on August 9, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was seen as having natural artistic talents when she was a child, often holding impromptu performances at a playground near her home.
She started her professional singing career when she signed with a small label called Crusader (others cite that she started for the Charger label) in the early 1960s. She didn’t achieve any success there, so she moved to a Philadelphia-based label Arctic in 1965.
Aside from singing, Mason also had a talent in writing her own songs. Mason’s first charting single was “Girls Have Feelings,” which peaked at #31 on the Billboard R&B singles chart. But her big hit would arrive later in 1965 when she achieved her biggest pop hit yet ever, “Yes, I’m Ready” which was highlighted by her sweet, girlish voice. She also wrote the hit single, which went to #5 on the pop singles chart and #2 on the R&B singles chart. This song came to be one of the classic examples of the lush Philly soul.
Fourteen years after the release of the original “Yes I’m Ready,” another singer Teri DeSario covered that song to a more successful result. DeSario’s version of “Yes, I’m Ready” went to #2 on the Hot 100 in late 1979.
Mason went on to have other singles on Arctic such as “Sad, Sad Girl” (#27 pop, #12 R&B), “Oh, How It Hurts” (#59 pop), and a lot of minor hits on both the pop and R&B charts. She also covered Bacharach-David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” which was also a minor R&B hit (at #38)
Move to Buddah Records
In 1972, Mason moved to Buddah Records, where her she achieved her first charting song on the label, “Bed and Board” (#70 pop, #24 R&B). The follow-up single “Child of Tomorrow” (from the movie Gordon’s War) reached #79 R&B. In 1973, Mason yet again scored another Top 40 hit with “Give Me Your Love” (#31 pop, #9 R&B) which was written and produced by Curtis Mayfield.
Also that year, Mason re-recorded her previous big hit “Yes, I’m Ready” which bubbled under Hot 100 at #125. In 1974, Mason achieved her last Top 40 hit with “From His Woman to You” which went to #28 on the Hot 100, and #3 on the R&B single chart. While her 1975 single “Shackin’ Up” took up the #9 position on the R&B single chart.
One of her more notable songs, “I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife” chalked up a #14 position of the R&B singles chart. By this period, Mason’s material had become more frank, discussing topics such as sexuality and unfaithfulness in relationships. That was something unusual for a female soul vocalist at that time. But Mason was obviously buried by the dominating disco genre, which she didn’t want to get involved with. She withdrew from the limelight for many years.
Mason resurfaced in the 1990s when producer Alan Beck invited her to sing in Los Angeles, California. Her excellent performance at the city’s Greek Theater received thunderous response from the public. Since then she has been periodically performing, and she also owns a music publishing firm. She released her latest album (in CD format) titled Feeling Blue, on Sunswept label. Mason still resides in Philadelphia up to the present.
Collaborations with other artists
Barbara Mason had worked with The Futures, another Philly soul act. Together they churned out three charting singles on the R&B chart between 1973 to 1975: “Love Is Here (#47 R&B) which was released on Gamble label, and two Buddah singles “Make It Last” (#35 R&B) and “We Got Each Other.” (#38 R&B)
Mason had also collaborated with songwriter and record producer Walter “Bunny” Sigler (aka “Mr. Emotion”) on the single “Locked in this Position” in 1977. It charted at #25 on the dance singles charts that year.