Black History Month: Celebrating The Marlena Shaw Sound - Page 3
It wasn’t before long after that word of mouth that Marlena mentioned, she was signing a record deal at Cadet Records which was then a subsidiary of Chess Records. Cadet featured the talents of the late Etta James and the Ramsey Lewis Trio.
Marlena’s career was moving fast.
“That’s why I always say, what’s for you, you’re going to get. You have to follow that mind. Something said to go down with Toni and Rusti, I think it was,” she chuckled. “I didn’t really feel like it, but ok I’ll go down and listen. If I had never gone down with them to be moral support for their careers then I never would’ve had that opportunity. It’s so funny how we can put ourselves in that situation for following the mind we have to do that. That’s the supernatural telling me what to do, believe me something had to tell me what to do. I never chased it.”
Marlena’s most popular song is California Soul. It was written by Nick Ashford of Ashford & Simpson. It was originally a “B” side of The Messengers single Window Shopping in 1967 under the Motown group of labels. In 1968, it had been covered by the group The 5th Dimension, and the each of artists Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Although those are phenomenal artists, none have had the success that Marlena’s cover has had. It is by far the superior one of four covers. Marlena’s California Soul has been prominently featured in Target and KFC commercials, more notably put good to use in a Dockers commercial set in San Francisco. It was also in the popular video game Driver: San Francisco. It has appeared in dozens of movies, television series and has been remixed quite a bit.
Although California Soul is her most popular song, other songs that she is notable for are Woman of the Ghetto and Let’s Wade in the Water. What would Marlena say is her most personal song?
“I would have to say it is Go Away, Little Boy. I wrote it, it’s me.”
Marlena shares her thoughts on the state of modern music.Continued on the next page