Big Maybelle / Rhythm and Blues

Big Maybelle

Born in Jackson, Tennessee, on May 1, 1924, Big Maybelle sang gospel as a child; by her teens, she had switched to rhythm and blues.
She began her professional career with Dave Clark's Memphis Band in 1936, and also toured with the all-female International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
She then joined Christine Chatman's Orchestra, and made her first recordings with Chatman in 1944, before recording with the Tiny Bradshaw's Orchestra from 1947 to1950.

Her debut solo recordings, recorded as Mabel Smith, were for King Records in 1947.
In 1952, she was signed by Okeh Records, whose record producer Fred Mendelsohn gave her the stage name 'Big Maybelle' because of her loud yet well-toned voice.
Her first recording for Okeh, "Gabbin' Blues", was a number 3 hit on the Billboard R&B chart, and was followed up by both "Way Back Home" and "My Country Man" in 1953.

In 1955, she recorded the song "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", produced by up-and-coming producer Quincy Jones, a full two years before rockabilly then rock and roll singer Jerry Lee Lewis's version.
Lewis credited Smith's version as being the inspiration to make his version much more louder, raunchy and raucous, with a driving beat and a spoken section with a come-on that was considered very risque for the time.

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