|Birth name||Mabel Louise Smith|
|Also known as||America's Queen Mother of Soul|
May 1, 1924|
Jackson, Tennessee, United States
|Died||January 23, 1972
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
|Genres||R&B, blues, gospel|
|Labels||King Records, Okeh, Savoy, Epic, Brunswick, Scepter, Chess, Port, Rojac, Encore|
Mabel Louise Smith (May 1, 1924 – January 23, 1972), known professionally as Big Maybelle, was an American R&B singer and pianist. Her 1956 hit single "Candy" received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
Childhood and musical background
Born in Jackson, Tennessee, United States, Big Maybelle sang gospel as a child and by her teens 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 as pianist, and made her first recordings with Chatman in 1944, before recording with the Tiny Bradshaw's Orchestra from 1947 to 1950.
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 has 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.
During this time she also appeared on stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City in 1957, and at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival she sang Jazz on a Summer's Day, which was filmed at the festival along with Mahalia Jackson and Dinah Washington onstage.
Career decline and health problems
After 1959 she recorded for a variety of labels but the hits largely dried up. She continued to perform in person into the early 1960s, but by this time her addiction to heroin, combined with health problems, took their physical toll on her. Her last hit single was in 1967 with a cover of "96 Tears" by Question Mark & the Mysterians
Her final album, Last of Big Maybelle, was released posthumously in 1973.
|"Way Back Home"||-||10|
|"My Country Man"||-||5|
|1966||"Don't Pass Me By"||-||27|
|2007||I've Got a Feelin' - OKeh & Savoy Recordings 1952-56||R&B||Rev-Ola Bandstand|
|2004||The Choronological Big Maybelle 1944-1953||R&B||Classics R&B|
|2001||Maybelle's Blues||R&B||Sony Special Product|
|2001||Savoy Blues Legends: Candy!(Original recording remastered)||R&B||Savoy Jazz|
|2001||Half Heaven Half Heartache: The Brunswick Recordings||R&B||Westside UK|
|1998||Very Best of Big Maybelle: That's All||R&B||Collectables|
|1996||The Last of Big Maybelle||R&B||Muse Records|
|1995||Blues, Candy and Big Maybelle||R&B||Savoy Jazz|
|1994||Maybelle Sings the Blues||R&B||Charly UK|
|1994||The Complete OKeh Sessions 1952-55||R&B||Sony|
|1973||The Last of Big Maybelle||R&B||Paramount|
|1968||The Gospel Soul of Big Maybelle||Gospel||Brunswick|
|1967||Got a Brand New Bag||R&B||Rojac|
|1966||Saga of the Good Life and Hard Times||R&B||Rojac|
|1964||The Soul of Big Maybelle||R&B||Scepter|
|1962||What More Can a Woman Do?||R&B||Brunswick|
|1958||The Blues Mammy Webster sings W.C.Handy||R&B||CUB/Savoy|
|1958||Blues, Candy and Big Maybelle||R&B||Savoy|
|1958||Big Maybelle Sings||R&B||Savoy|
- List of R&B musicians
- List of East Coast blues musicians
- List of Jump blues musicians
- New York blues
- Allmusic biography
- Grammy Hall of Fame Database
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 92. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Santelli, Robert. The Big Book of Blues, Penguin Books, p. 40 (2001) - ISBN 0-14-100145-3
- Nigel Williamson, The Rough Guide To The Blues (2007) - ISBN 1-84353-519-X
- The Story of Big Maybelle
- Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960)
- Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, page 243, (1992) - ISBN 0-85112-939-0
- The Blues Foundation database
- [dead link]
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 57. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 31.