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Tags: motown | mable john | dead

Motown's Pioneering Female Solo Artist Mable John Dead at 91

mable john speaking at a restrospective
Mable John (Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 29 August 2022 12:33 PM EDT

Mable John, the first solo female artist to sign to Motown, has died at 91.

The pioneering singer's death was confirmed by her nephew, Kevin John, who said John died on Aug. 25 at her home in Los Angeles. 

"We loved her, and she was a kind person," Kevin John said in a statement to Deadline

Born on Nov. 3, 1930, in Bastrop, Louisiana, John became acquainted with Berry Gordy Jr. when she landed a job working at the Friendship Mutual Insurance Company, founded by Gordy's mother, in the 1940s.

"He became my vocal coach, my manager, and, within a couple of years, my record producer," John recalled of her relationship with Gordy to author Susan Whithall, according to Motown Classic's website.

In 1958, John signed with Gordy's Tamla Records — a label that went on to become Motown — and made her professional musical debut at Detroit's Flame Show Bar opening for Billie Holiday the following year.

John recorded a string of singles with Gordy, including "Who Wouldn't Love A Man Like That," "Actions Speak Louder Than Words," "No Love," "Looking for a Man," and "Take Me," Deadline reported. 

In the mid-1960s, John left Motown and joined Memphis label Stax Records, where she released her 1966 hit "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)." The single earned her a No. 6 spot on Billboard's Hot R&B chart and No. 95 on the Billboard Hot 100. Several musicians including Lou Rawls, Etta James, and Bonnie Raitt would later cover the popular song. 

John left Stax to become the musical director for Ray Charles' Raelettes. She also sang for the backing band and collaborated on numerous songs before leaving the music industry to focus on becoming a minister. 

John made an appearance as a veteran blues singer in John Sayles' 2007 film "Honeydripper," as well as in the documentary "20 Feet From Stardom."

John was married four times and had four sons: Jesse, Joel, Otis and Lemuel. She is survived by Lemuel as well as numerous grandchildren, according to the Daily Mail.

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Mable John, the first solo female artist to sign to Motown, has died at 91.
motown, mable john, dead
Monday, 29 August 2022 12:33 PM
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