James Brown's legendary protégée Martha High presents her new LP “Tribute to My Soul Sisters” - Out next Nov 17
Funky Diva Martha High has been an integral part of James Brown’s life and career for more than 30 years: she was his backing vocalist, hair stylist, payroll master and his always loyal and reliable confidant. After a lifetime spent shoulder to shoulder with the Godfather of Soul, she flew to Tokyo and teamed up with Japanese funk ambassadors Osaka Monaurail to pay homage to the great Soul Sisters of the JB’s Revue. “Tribute to My Soul Sisters” drops next November the 17th on Record Kicks.
The idea for this special project was hatched back in 2014, when she was visiting the producer Dj Pari, head honcho of the Soulpower organization and tight collaborator of soul legends like The Impressions, Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney. While reminiscing about tours with her fellow James Brown veterans, Martha felt that a tribute to the great Soul Sisters of the JB Revue, better known as “James Brown’s Original Funky Divas”, was very much needed.
Without further ado, following DJ Pari’s advice, she partnered up with one of the hottest name of the new funk renaissance: Japan’s Osaka Monaurail. Martha could not have chosen a better band for this mission: deeply influenced by the work of James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Curtis Mayfield and with nine albums under the belt, Osaka Monaurail have been leading the international funk scene for more than two decades, appearing at festivals such as Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival and Womad’s, as well as recording and touring with funk legends like Marva Whitney and Fred Wesley.
This unique collaboration gives new life to 13 soulful pearls, masterfully interpreted as only an Original Funky Diva can do. To name a few: “Think (About It)”, made famous by the female preacher Lyn Collins, “Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own”, Anna King’s answer to JB “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, “This Is My Story”, of which Martha recorded the original version with The Jewels, and the soul classic “Answer to Mother Popcorn” by Vicki Anderson.
"I looked up to these ladies of soul" says Martha, "Given the opportunity and the pleasure to perform their songs, is my way of saying: thank you, you're not forgotten. To record the music of the Funky Divas would mean a lot to Mr Brown. He always wanted the world to know he had powerful women on stage that could hold his crowd while he was off the stage; they were just as powerful and funky as he was."
Born in Victoria, Virginia and discovered by Rock & Roll pioneer Bo Diddley, Martha took off her career with the soulful, legendary doo-wop group "The Four Jewels”, with whom she scored the national hit 'Opportunity" in 1964. Soon, The Jewels caught the attention of James Brown and joined the “James Brown Revue” in 1966. The Godfather of Soul recorded and released several songs featuring The Jewels until the group disbanded. Nevertheless, Martha stayed with James Brown and continued to work with him as his personal vocalist for 32 years. She was with him at the Boston Garden during the iconic 1968 gig after Martin Luther King’s assassination, she was by his side when he performed at renowned ‘Rumble in The Jungle’ event in Zaire and was on stage with him and "The Legends of Rock & Roll". Mr Brown produced several of Martha’s singles on his own label “People” such as “Georgy Girl", "Try Me" and “Summertime”; meanwhile Martha launched her solo career in 1979 with the self-titled debut LP for “Salsoul Records”. Since then she released five albums under her name and, being one of the “hardest working woman in show business”, she became one of the leading singers of saxophonist Maceo Parker’s legendary funky music machine, working with him for 16 years.
Throughout her career Martha shared stages worldwide with some iconic artists like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson and George Clinton to name a few. Martha has been carrying the torch of soul music for her whole life, like a true Soul Sister. Now, with this new effort, she is keeping the music of the Funky Divas going, and we are sure that the Godfather of Soul and her faithful audience would appreciate it.
TRIBUTE TO MY SOUL SISTERS EURO TOUR
25.11.2017 BIKO Milano, Italy
26.11.2017 New Morning (Officiel) Paris, France
28.11.2017 Mojo Club, Hamburg, Germany
29.11.2017 Schlachthof Wiesbaden, Germany
30.11.2017 Under the Bridge, London, UK
01.12.2017 Espace Julien, Marseille, France
02.12.2017 Le JAM Montpellier, France