Doris Duke (soul singer)
|Birth name||Doris Curry|
|Also known as||Doris Willingham
Sandersville, Georgia, U.S.
|Genres||Deep soul, southern soul, R&B|
|Labels||Jay-Boy Records, Hy-Monty Records, Kent Records, Atlantic Records, Canyon Records, Mankind Records, Contempo, SAM Records|
|Associated acts||The Raspberry Singers, The David Singers, The Caravans|
She was born as Doris Curry in Sandersville, Georgia, and reportedly started singing with gospel groups including the Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker and Caravans, though this has been questioned. By 1963 she was working in New York City on sessions and as a backing singer at the Apollo Theatre. She also recorded some demos for Motown Records, but none were ever released. Under her then married name of Doris Willingham, she recorded her first single, "Running Away from Loneliness" in 1966. This release on Jay Boy Records was not a success, so she continued working as a session singer, mainly in Philadelphia. She also sang back-up on Nina Simone's live album, A Very Rare Evening, recorded in Germany in 1969.
In 1969, former Atlantic Records producer Jerry 'Swamp Dogg' Williams Jr. signed her as a solo artiste, renaming her Doris Duke and recording the album I'm A Loser at the Capricorn studio in Macon, Georgia. The album was eventually issued on Canyon Records, and over the years became regarded, by Dave Godin and others, as one of the finest deep soul records of all time. The first single, "To the Other Woman", reached no. 7 in the Billboard R&B chart and no. 50 on the pop chart in early 1970, and the follow-up "Feet Start Walking" also made the R&B chart, but success was cut short when the record company collapsed.
She recorded a second album, A Legend in Her Own Time, with Swamp Dogg, issued on the Mankind label in 1971. However, it was not commercially successful, and her career at one point became confused with that of "the real" Doris Duke, a white heiress, who began performing with a gospel choir in New Jersey. Having remarried, and using the name Doris Logan, she temporarily retired to bring up her young children, before undergoing another divorce. In 1973, she recorded unsuccessfully for Bob Shad's Mainstream label, before being signed to the British Contempo label in 1974. Her subsequent album Woman, recorded in London, received good reviews but few sales, and thereafter she retired into obscurity.
An album called Funky Fox, issued on the Manhattan label in 1981, was credited to "Sister Doris Duke", although the tracks are in fact believed to be by other artists. However, she did make one further single, "I'll Make A Sweet Man (Out Of You)", on the Beantown label in Boston, in 1981. Since then, efforts to rediscover her have been fruitless. She is also sister to Geraldine and Joyce Curry, who recorded as The Heartstoppers for the All Platinum label in the early 1970s.