Don Bryant (songwriter)
April 4, 1942|
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Fat Possum Records
The Four Kings|
Bryant was born in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, the middle of ten children. He began singing in church at age 5. He soon joined his father’s family vocal group and would eventually form a gospel quartet for a high school radio show, finding success singing secular pop songs on Dick “Cane” Cole’s popular WLOK show. The quartet, performing as The Four Kings, would part with Cole to become the front band for Willie Mitchell, with Bryant as the leading man.
In 1960, the still teenage Bryant was offered a shot at songwriting, penning “I Got To Know” for The 5 Royales. He wrote material for other artists at Hi Records while continuing to record with The Four Kings and as a solo artist, resulting in a 1969 solo album. However, with the success of Al Green, Otis Clay, and other vocalists at Hi, Bryant’s singing career took a backseat to writing, joining Earl Randle, Dan Greer, and Darryl Carter as Hi’s top staff writers. Bryant is credited on as many as 154 titles.
By 1970, Willie Mitchell had begun to pair Bryant with his newest act, a young Ann Peebles, for whom he wrote “99 Pounds” and “Do I Need You.” The pair co-wrote the Top 40 hit "I Can't Stand the Rain" in 1973, and would be married the following year. Bryant spent much of the subsequent decade writing and opening for Peebles, with his final Hi single coming in 1981, a duet with his wife called “Mon Belle-Amour.”
Return to performing
Following a conversation between producer Scott Bomar and former Hi Records drummer Howard Grimes, Bryant was invited to perform as a vocalist with Memphis-based soul homage outfit The Bo-Keys. After some convincing from Grimes, Bryant accepted and, within a few months, found the inspiration to return to the studio. Bryant and The Bo-Keys recorded Don’t Give Up on Love in the fall of 2016, which was released on the Fat Possum label in 2017. The album features an array of Bryant’s past triumphs as well as new material.
- Precious Soul (Hi Records), 1969
- Don’t Give Up on Love (Fat Possum Records), 2017
As Donald Bryant and a Chosen Few
- What Do You Think About Jesus? (By Faith Records), 1987
- I’m Gonna Praise Him (By Faith Records), 1989
- It’s All in the World (By Faith Records), 2000
- "Don Bryant". allmusic. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Staff. "Don Bryant". Fat Possum Records.
- Mehr, Bob. "Soul man Don Bryant returns with 'Don't Give Up on Love'". Commercial Appeal. George Cogswell.
- Suosalo, Heikki. "Don Bryant - Interview". Soul Express Online. Heikki Suosalo.
- Leight, Elias. "How Southern-Soul Survivor Don Bryant Finally Got His Second Chance". Rolling Stone Magazine. Jann Wenner.
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