Doris Troy

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Doris Troy
Doris Troy.jpg
Background information
Birth name Doris Elaine Higginsen
Also known as Doris Payne
Born (1937-01-06)January 6, 1937
Origin The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died February 16, 2004(2004-02-16) (aged 67)
Genres R&B
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1950-1981
Labels Apple, Atlantic, People
Associated acts Cissy Houston

Doris Troy (born Doris Elaine Higginsen; January 6, 1937 – February 16, 2004)[1][2] was an American R&B singer and songwriter, known to her many fans as "Mama Soul".

Life and career[edit]

She was born as Doris Elaine Higginsen,[1] in The Bronx, the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister. She later took her grandmother's name and grew up as Doris Payne.[3] Her parents disapproved of "subversive" forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father's choir. She was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by James Brown. Troy worked with Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick, before she co-wrote and recorded "Just One Look", which hit #10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.[4]

"Just One Look" was the only charting US hit for Troy. The song was recorded in 10 minutes on October 1962, with producer Buddy Lucas, as a demo for Atlantic Records.[5] However, after Atlantic Records heard the demo, they decided not to re-record it, but release it as is.[6] Musicians included: Ernie Hayes on organ, Wally Richardson on guitar, Bob Bushnell on bass, and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums.[7] It was Purdie's first session recording of original work. Purdie would go on to become the world's most recorded drummer in history, inspiring and recording actively to date.[8] The song has been covered by The Hollies, Major Lance, Linda Ronstadt, Bryan Ferry, Anne Murray, Klaus Nomi, and Harry Nilsson. Her only foray into the UK Singles Chart, "Whatcha Gonna Do About It", peaked at #37 in December 1964.[1]

As her solo career peaked, she sang back-up for The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Pink Floyd (on their album Dark Side of the Moon),[2] George Harrison, Johnny Hallyday, Vivian Stanshall, Dusty Springfield,[2] Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Carly Simon.

She was signed by The Beatles to their Apple Records label in 1969, and released the Doris Troy album the following year, co-produced by Troy and George Harrison. Troy worked in the UK throughout the 1970s, appearing at Ronnie Scott's Club and recording a live album, The Rainbow Testament. Her People Records album, Stretching Out, was not a big seller.

Mama, I Want To Sing is a stage musical based on her life,[2] and was co-written with her sister, Vy, a popular New York radio personality. It ran for 1,500 performances at the Heckscher Theatre in Harlem. Troy played her own mother, Geraldine. Chaka Khan played her aunt in the London production, as did Deniece Williams. Mama, I Want to Sing! was also made into a motion picture, starring Ciara, Patti Labelle and Hill Harper, which was released on DVD in 2012.

Troy died from emphysema at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 67.[2]


  • Sings Just One Look & Other Memorable Selections (1963)
  • Doris Troy (1970)
  • Rainbow Testament (1972)
  • Stretching Out (1974)[9]


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 567. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e - accessed February 2011
  3. ^ Doris Troy at SoulfulKindaMusic
  4. ^ - Billboard Singles
  5. ^ Bernard " Pretty " Purdie, Let The Drums Speak!, 2014 pages 69-70.
  6. ^ ibid 5
  7. ^ ibid 5
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Doris Troy Discography". 

External links[edit]