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Barbara Lynn

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Barbara Lynn
Lynn on stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 2008
Lynn on stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 2008
Background information
Birth nameBarbara Lynn Ozen
Born (1942-01-16) January 16, 1942 (age 82)
Beaumont, Texas, U.S.
GenresRhythm and blues, electric blues[1]
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1962–present
  • Jamie
  • Tribe
  • Atlantic
  • Jetstream
  • Ichiban
  • Bullseye Blues
  • I.T.P.
  • Antone's
  • Dialtone

Barbara Lynn (born Barbara Lynn Ozen, later Barbara Lynn Cumby, January 16, 1942)[2] is an American rhythm and blues and electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.[1] She is best known for her R&B chart-topping hit, "You'll Lose a Good Thing" (1962). In 2018, Lynn received a National Heritage Fellowship.[3]

Life and career


She was born in Beaumont, Texas, and attended Hebert High School.[4] She was raised Catholic and sang in the choir at her local parish.[5] She also played piano as a child, but switched to guitar, which she plays left-handed. Inspired by blues artists Guitar Slim and Jimmy Reed, and pop acts Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee, and winning several local talent shows, she created an all-female band, Bobbie Lynn and Her Idols.[2]

She began performing in local clubs in Texas.[4] Singer Joe Barry saw her and introduced Lynn to producer Huey P. Meaux, who ran SugarHill Recording Studios and several record labels in New Orleans. Her first single, "You'll Lose A Good Thing", written by her, was recorded at Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio with session musicians including Mac Rebennack (Dr. John).[6] Released by Jamie Records, it was a number 1 US Billboard R&B chart hit and Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1962.[2] The song was later recorded by Aretha Franklin and became a country hit record for Freddy Fender.

Ska and reggae covers of the same song have been released by several Jamaican artists: Audrey Hall "You'll Lose a Good Thing" (1969),[7] Linval Thompson "Don't Try To Lose Me" (1976),[8] Yellowman "If You Should Lose Me" (1984),[9] and Mikey Dread "Choose Me" (1989).[10]

Lynn released an album, also titled You'll Lose A Good Thing, which featured ten of her compositions.[11][12]

Unusual for the time, Lynn was a female African American singer who both wrote most of her own songs and played a lead instrument. Soon Lynn was touring with such soul musicians as Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown, Al Green, Carla Thomas, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, the Temptations, and B.B. King. She appeared at the Apollo Theater, twice on American Bandstand. In 1965, she had her song, "Oh Baby (We've Got A Good Thing Goin')" (1964) covered by the Rolling Stones on their album The Rolling Stones Now! in America and Out Of Our Heads in the UK. The song was also recorded by Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, with Beverly Skeete lead singing. Lynn continued to record for the Jamie label until 1966 and had several more minor hits.[2]

In 1966 she signed to Meaux's Tribe label, and recorded "You Left the Water Running," which was covered by Otis Redding among others. She signed with Atlantic the following year, and recorded another album, Here Is Barbara Lynn, in 1968. She married for the first time, at age 28, in 1970 and had three children. This, together with dissatisfaction with poor promotion by the record company, contributed to her decision to largely retire from the music business for most of the 1970s and 1980s.[2] However, while living in Los Angeles, she occasionally appeared at local clubs, and released several singles on Jetstream and other small labels.[13]

In 1984 she toured Japan, and recorded a live album, You Don't Have to Go, which was released later in the US. She resumed her recording career after her husband's death, and returned to Beaumont, Texas, where her mother lived.[4] She also undertook further international tours, to Europe and elsewhere. In 1994, she recorded her first studio album in over twenty years, So Good, and released several more albums for various labels in later years.[2]

She continues to reside in Beaumont, and was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.[4][14] In 2002, electronic musician Moby sampled Lynn's "I'm A Good Woman" on his album 18.

She appears in the 2015 documentary film I Am the Blues.[15]

She is a recipient of a 2018 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.[16]



Chart singles

Year Single Chart Positions
US Pop[17] US
1962 "You'll Lose a Good Thing" 8 1
"Second Fiddle Girl" 63 -
"You're Gonna Need Me" 65 13
1963 "Don't Be Cruel" 93 -
"To Love or Not to Love" 135 -
"(I Cried at) Laura's Wedding" 68 -
1964 "Oh! Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')" 69 19[19]
"Don't Spread It Around" 93 35[19]
1965 "It's Better to Have It" 95 26
1966 "I'm a Good Woman" 129 -
"You Left the Water Running" 110 42
1968 "This Is the Thanks I Get" 65 39
1971 "(Until Then) I'll Suffer" - 31


  • 1963 You'll Lose a Good Thing (Jamie)
  • 1964 Sister of Soul (Jamie)
  • 1968 Here Is Barbara Lynn (Atlantic)
  • 1988 You Don't Have to Go (Ichiban)
  • 1993 So Good (Bullseye Blues)
  • 1996 Until Then I'll Suffer (I.T.P.)
  • 2000 Hot Night Tonight (Antone's)
  • 2004 Blues & Soul Situation (Dialtone)

Further reading

  • John Broven, South to Louisiana: Music of the Cajun Bayous (1983)[20]
  • Shane K. Bernard, Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues (1996)[21]
  • Alan B. Govenar, Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound (2003),[22] containing extracts from a 1987 interview with Barbara Lynn


  1. ^ a b Du Noyer, Paul, ed. (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music. Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 9781904041702. OCLC 59304761.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Steve, Huey (n.d.). "Barbara Lynn: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  3. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2018". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Amelia Feathers, An R&B comeback, more than three decades in the making, Blues Music Now, 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2013
  5. ^ "Barbara Lynn: True Hero of Texas Music | MichaelCorcoran.net". 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
  6. ^ Aswell, Tom (23 September 2010). Louisiana Rocks!. Pelican. ISBN 9781455607839. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  7. ^ AUDREY - YOU'LL LOOSE A GOOD THING.wmv, 16 April 2010, retrieved 2022-10-28
  8. ^ Don't Try to Lose Me (a.k.a. You'll Lose a Good Thing), 25 January 2017, retrieved 2022-10-28
  9. ^ Yellowman - If You Should Lose Me, 31 December 2007, retrieved 2022-10-28
  10. ^ "Best Sellers - Mikey Dread - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  11. ^ Steve, Huey (n.d.). "Barbara Lynn: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  12. ^ Amelia Feathers, An R&B comeback, more than three decades in the making, Blues Music Now, 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2013
  13. ^ Discography at Soulful Kinda Music. Retrieved 24 January 2013
  14. ^ Tommy Mann Jr., Musicians gather to celebrate local R&B legend, The Orange Leader, January 14, 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2013
  15. ^ "Here Are 6 Must-See Music Films at Hot Docs". Exclaim!, April 19, 2016.
  16. ^ "Barbara Lynn: R&B musician". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 429. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B Singles: 1942-1995. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
  19. ^ a b Billboard did not publish an R&B chart between November 1963 and January 1965
  20. ^ Broven, John (1983). South to Louisiana: Music of the Cajun Bayous. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican. ISBN 9780882893006. LCCN 82-11247. OCLC 8553153.
  21. ^ Bernard, Shane K. (1996). Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9780878058754. LCCN 95-53231. OCLC 34080195.
  22. ^ Govenar, Alan B. (2008). Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound. College Station: Texas A & M University Press. ISBN 9781585446056. LCCN 2007-39152. OCLC 173748318.