Maxine Brown

Biography of Maxine Brown

Maxine Brown

Maxine Brown, the soul singer, at Colne 2005. (Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction to one of the most underrated singers

Maxine Brown is an American R&B, soul and gospel songstress from the 60s music era. She is considered one of the most underrated singers of the genre. She has never reached the Billboard Top 10; her highest charting single was 1960’s “All In My Mind” (#19 on the pop charts). Born in Kingstree, South Carolina in 1939, she began her singing career when she was younger, mostly performing for gospel groups. Brown achieved her first national hit, “All In My Mind” in 1960, followed by “Funny” in 1961.

She was then signed to ABC-Paramount in 1962, poised to become a singing sensation, but she left after an unsuccessful stint there. Moving from the bigger record label, Brown joined Scepter Records’ arm Wand Records. From then, Brown achieved more Hot 100 hits like “Oh No, Not My Baby.” Brown also did a duet with Chuck Jackson in “Something You Got,” which became a top 10 R&B hit. Despite her seeming lack of exposure, Brown is still regarded as one of the greatest and most versatile R&B/soul/jazz/gospel singers especially during her time, not definitely only by oldies music fans.

Early life

Considered to be one of the most under-appreciated soul and R&B singers of the 20th century, Maxine Ella Brown was born in Kingstree, South Carolina on August 18, 1939. She first lent her amazing vocal talents when she was in her teens. She performed with a couple of gospel groups, the Angelairs and the Royaltones, both of whom were based in New York.

 

 

Successes with Nomar record label

In 1960, Brown signed her first recording contract with a small independent label Nomar, who released her first single “All in My Mind” late in that year. The single, co-written by Brown, Leroy Kirkland and Fred Johnson, reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the R&B singles chart.

The success of “All in My Mind” was quickly followed by “Funny” which first appeared on Billboard in March 1961. It became an even bigger hit on the R&B chart at #3, and it also peaked at #25 on the pop singles chart.

Unfruitful stint at ABC-Paramount

When she felt that she was certainly going to “make it big” in only a matter of time, Brown moved to a major label ABC-Paramount in 1962. But her singles there — “After All We’ve Been Through,” “I Got a Funny Kind of Feeling” and “My Time for Crying” — were only very minor hits. She left the label a year later.

 

 

Sizable hits on Wand label

From a big label, in 1963, Brown moved to a comparatively smaller imprint Wand, a subsidiary of Scepter Records which specialized on mostly uptown soul.

It was at the New York-based Wand label where she did some of her best records. Compared to her stint at ABC-Paramount, Brown released songs on Wand that definitely did much better on the singles rankings.

Among her charting Wand singles between the years 1963-1969 include “Ask Me” (#75 pop), “Coming Back to You” (#99 pop, #34 R&B), “Oh No, Not My Baby” (#24 pop, #2 R&B; it was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King), “It’s Gonna Be Alright” (#56 pop, #26 R&B; also written by Goffin-King), “One Step at a Time” (#55 pop), “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” (#63 pop) and many others.

Brown also collaborated in duets, most especially with Chuck Jackson in their version of Alvin Robinson’s “Something You Got” which became a Top 10 R&B hit. But it seems she wasn’t that fortunate in getting the exposure that she really deserved, as Wand was preoccupied in its focus towards a bigger star in the person of Dionne Warwick.

Later career

In 1969, Brown left Wand and moved to another label Commonwealth United, where she scored more minor hits such as “We’ll Cry Together” (#73 pop, #15 R&B) and 1970’s “I Can’t Get Along With You” which was to be her last charting song. Next she moved to Avco Records, but her records there had very little commercial impact.

Although she hasn’t been releasing records any longer (yet), Brown is still performing live up to the present.

Her perceived lack of visibility and exposure hindered her genuine singing talent; nevertheless Maxine Brown is still regarded as one of the finest R&B/soul/gospel singers especially during her time, albeit very underrated.

 

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