legendary House Music vocalist, needs no introduction with her powerful and
beautiful timeless soulful vocals.
Kathy first found her voice by singing with her local Gospel Choir. She had begun doing so with three of her sisters (she has seven in all). Given that her Mother – a Minister – played guitar, and that her Aunt is Shirley Caesar, the ‘Queen of Gospel Music’ – winner of eleven Grammy Awards, with such a heritage Kathy’s chosen path comes as little surprise, and these roots shine through in every note she sings.
One day she was singing at a Laundromat, next thing she was performing in the group Sweet Cinnamon. She was 16 years old at the time.
“We met people like The Joneses*, The Commodores… you name it… Studio 54 was my spot. Bow-Legged Lou*, Cheryl Pepsii Riley*… These were the people I hung out with every week, that was my upbringing.”
Kathy Brown began her professional career when she joined forces with David Shaw, the director of A&R of black music at Columbia Records. Shaw produced her cover of Lace’s “Can’t play around” which went to #4 on billboard top ten dance chart. Next came “Turn me out” that went # 1,4, & 8 on the British, Italian and Australian national charts. Kathy became so successful in Britain she appeared on “Top of the Pops” the national music television program while having three singles on the BBC charts. The single “turn me out” was re-released five times. This success allowed Kathy to become a star in major cities of Europe and Australia like Liverpool, Manchester, London, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Kathy became the lead Vocalist in Isaac Hayes group Sweet Cinnamon, and has worked with Chante Savage on her single “Can’t find another love like mine” and major acts like Freddie Jackson, and Miles Davies. They say food is the staff of life but music soothe the savage, well Kathy Brown will soothe your soul, lift your spirit and work your body. It was in 1993 she met up with David Shaw who was producing a cover of the Lace track Can’t Play Around. He put down Kathy’s vocals, it was released and it shoot her up into the US Billboard Dance Charts. The star was born.
A year later into 1994, and again as with Can’t Play Around came her second smash from the Cutting Records label; Praxis featuring Kathy Brown – Turn Me Out. A Number One Hit, it is an eternal house classic that in many variations and a multitude of mixes is heard out on the floors, as fresh now as it was then.
Since then she has never stopped, tune upon tune, year upon year.
From such a catalogue, selecting a few is no easy task, but I’ve limited myself to five.
To kick off, two releases from 1999, both of which sublimely uplift. Press play on this right now and dance around your room for the next 6 minutes – purest medicine for body and soul as can be found in Happy People.
Feeling good? I trust you are. But we’re not stopping there, as the other from that year is Joy – David Morales Classic Club Mix (Azuli Records). When I spoke with Kathy I asked her if she had any favourite projects, and I’m pleased this was one she mentioned.
“When I first thought of David Morales… I’d never heard him play but I always heard his name. So I went one night and I couldn’t sit down. I’ve never been anywhere where a producer, literally every time I tried to sit down – I just keep getting up back and forth – that’s how passionate he is when he plays – the same electricity that is running through him is running through you, you feel it.”
Extra special meaning is added with the fact that the backing sisters to this (also Mariah Carey’s) were the same girls she grew up in the Gospel Choir with, so the ‘joy’ really is full circle.
As a perfect follow up to that I look to 2005 when we received Soul Central featuring Kathy Brown – Strings Of Life (Stronger On My Own). Come, come now – I simply had to include this one. Originally released in 1987 Strings of Life by Rhythim Is Rhythim (aka Derrick May), with those orchestral stabs and piano riffs, is considered by many to be one of the most influential dance records ever made, and a good few versions abound. For me, with her voice soaring as it does here, this is ‘The One’ as a supremacy of feeling rises up. The version I post begins with her little talk-in; I love it when Kathy places these segments into her tunes – it is like the Goddess Athene imparting wisdom from Mount Olympus.
2006 also saw the release of Get Another Love with Defected, a cover of the original featuring Chantal Curtis
Kathy has continued to have hit after hit and is still fully active recording and performing live