Etta Britt

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Etta Britt
Birth nameMelissa Prewitt
Lancaster, Kentucky
GenresR&B soul, blues
Years active1978-present
LabelsWrinkled Records
Associated acts

Etta Britt (Melissa Prewitt, born Lancaster, Kentucky) is a Nashville-based R&B, soul and blues vocalist. Successful and sought after in the role of supporting artist, in 2012, Britt was approached by songwriter Sandy Knox (Reba McEntire) and music industry executive, Katie Gillon, to be the first artist to sign with Wrinkled Records as a featured artist.[1]

Early life[edit]

The Prewitt family (Arthor, Amanda and Melissa's seven siblings), moved from Lancaster, Kentucky to Louisville, Kentucky when Melissa was in the second grade, Melissa was raised in Louisville and attended Fern Creek High School. While away at sixth grade camp, Melissa won the talent competition, marking the point in her life when she knew she wanted to perform.[2]

Pet-named Etta by her sister, who in return, is pet-named Myrna, the origin of these names is obscured or forgotten.[3] Melissa started singing in the fourth grade, her sister, a cousin, and a friend sang in a gospel quartet and performed for local church-groups.[1] As a young girl singing along with The Supremes, Melissa aspired to be more like Mary Wilson rather than Diana Ross because she loved singing harmonies.[4]


Melissa (at the time credited as Melissa Dean), approached Dave Roland (of Dave & Sugar) for an audition with the band and replaced the departing Vicki Hackeman in January 1979.[5] During Melissa's tenure with Dave & Sugar (1979 to 1984), the band toured with headline acts that included: Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, Tammy Wynette, Gallagher and Conway Twitty. Melissa is credited on four Dave & Sugar albums including the Billboard Magazine Country Singles #1 hit, "Golden Tears". Additional trips to the Top 10, Country Singles chart, include: "My World Begins And Ends With You" #4, "Stay With Me" #6 and "Why Did You Have To Be So Good" #4. The group had continued success with eight additional Country Singles chart hits from 1980 through 1982.[6][7]

In 1984, Melissa was residing in Nashville, Tennessee and married to studio guitarist Bob Britt, the couple soon had two daughters to support. No longer with the defunct Dave & Sugar trio, Melissa (Britt) took work waiting tables and cleaning houses while securing her real estate credentials, she also explored songwriting and singing as much as circumstances would permit.[1] Bob Britt's reputation as a guitarist was growing, credited on Leon Russell's, Solid State (1984), he toured with The Dixie Chicks, John Fogerty and Wynonna Judd, ensuing credits include, Bob Dylan's, Grammy Award winning, Time Out of Mind (1997).[8]

According to AllMusic, the early credit for the Etta Britt stage name is on Paul Metsa's, Whistling Past the Graveyard (1993).[9] At some point, Melissa's sister had called the studio, asking to speak with Etta, Bob wrote the name "Etta Britt" on a track-sheet and the name combination later became Melissa's stage-name.[3]

Never giving up on her singing career, Britt had developed a soulful blues style as a soloist, slightly outside of the Nashville, country music, genre.[10] Etta's talent had been noted by Sandy Knox while working on Knox', Pushin' 40, Never Married, No Kids (2000); in 2012, the two had a chance encounter at a writers-night event. Knox, a songwriter with Grammy Award nominated works, heard Etta's compositions during her stage performance earlier that evening and invited her to lunch. Britt had prepared for the lunch, which also included music industry veteran Katie Gillon, with the expectation of discussing a deal on a song, not a recording contract.[1]

I literally looked around and said "me?" It was shocking," Britt said. "I was 53 at the time, and that [a record deal] was the last thing I expected to come out of either of their mouths. It was exciting and surprising; a sense of new hope just came over me.[10]

Etta Britt, Falls Church News-Press, October 3, 2012.

Britt's record deal, signed at age 53, and a well received freshman album, Out of the Shadows (2012), hitting the Living Blues Magazine's chart at #20,[11] attracted the attention of Marlo Thomas at the Huffington Post who writes: "This story is about a woman who sacrificed the spotlight to help her family survive, and has been given the chance to take center stage with her very own record deal more than 20 years later!"[1] The NBC Today Show ran a feature story on August 25, 2012,[12] covering highlights of the Huffington Post article, "Out Of The Shadows - Mom Signs Record Deal At 55", and includes video from an opening performance for Delbert McClinton at B.B. King's New York on July 27, 2012.[13]

In 2013, Britt is a featured artist on B. J. Thomas', The Living Room Sessions, singing a duet with Thomas on an unplugged arrangement of "New Looks from an Old Lover".[14]

Solo albums[edit]

Out of the Shadows (2012 LP)[edit]

Out of the Shadows

  • Released: 2012
  • Format: "LP/CD"
  • Label: Wrinkled Records (WR-1674)[15]
  • Producer: Bob Britt
1."Dog Wants In" (Etta Britt)04:32
2."High" (Etta Britt)04:05
3."The Chokin' Kind" (Etta Britt)04:04
4."Leap of Faith" (Etta Britt feat: Delbert McClinton)04:14
5."In the Tears" (Etta Britt)05:31
6."I Believe" (Etta Britt)03:28
7."Quiet House" (Etta Britt)05:09
8."The Long Haul" (Etta Britt)03:58
9."Make It Fast" (Etta Britt)04:21
10."Fallin'" (Etta Britt)03:41
11."The Bigger the Love (The Harder the Fall)" (Etta Britt)03:56
12."She's Eighteen" (Etta Britt)03:55
Total length:50:54


"Quiet House," the most interior of the two songs, does nothing less than survey the unsettling stillness within—within a house where children have left the nest to go into the world on their own, and within a parent's unsettled soul as she comes to grip with deafening silence and poignant memories, realizing "time just for me" is what she always dreamed of. But "this is nothing like I thought it'd be." Ms. Britt is fully inside the song, and barely, it seems, in control of her emotions as the piano laments softly and a cello rises hauntingly behind her until she bursts out with a piercing cry--"all aloooooo-ne…in a quiet house"—made all the more penetrating by a raspy edge in her voice, as if she were on the verge of tears.[16]

David McGee, The Bluegrass Special, May 2012.


  • Etta Britt is also published under the names, Melissa Dean and Melissa Britt.
Etta Britt discography [5][9][17][18]
Year Album Primary artist Capacity
1979 Stay with Me/Golden Tears Dave Rowland & Sugar Primary artist[5]
(Billboard Magazine Country Albums #20)[19]
1980 New York Wine, Tennessee Shine Dave Rowland & Sugar Primary artist[5]
(Billboard Magazine Country Albums #47)[20]
1981 Pleasure Dave Rowland & Sugar Primary artist[5]
(Billboard Magazine Country Albums #31)[21]
1993 Whistling Past the Graveyard Paul Metsa Vocals, Vocals (Background)
1996 After Dark Engelbert Humperdinck Vocals (Background)
Another Man's Sky Royal Wade Kimes Vocals (Background)
Scattered Big Kat Kaylor Vocals (Background)
1997 Greatest Hits Pam Tillis Vocals (Background as M.Britt)[18]
Live: If That Ain't Country David Allan Coe Vocals (Background as M.Britt)[18]
1998 Dorkfish Bill Engvall Vocals
Anthology Dave Rowland & Sugar Vocals (credited as Melissa Dean)[17]
1999 American Street George McCorkle(Marshall Tucker Band) Vocals (Background)
Here's Your Christmas Album Bill Engvall Main Personnel, Vocals
2000 Blue Collar Comedy Tour Live Blue Collar Comedy Tour Vocals
Pushin' 40, Never Married, No Kids Sandy Knox Laughs, Vocals (Background as M.Britt)[18]
2001 King Kong Serenade Allen Shadow Vocals
Rare + Well Done: The Greatest & Most Obscure Recordings Al Kooper Vocals see sample
2002 New Ground Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise Vocals (Background)
Red White and Blue Forever Mark Farner Vocals (Background)
2003 Memarie Memarie Vocals (Background)
2004 Days of Our Lives James Otto Vocals (Background)U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 61
I Give My Heart John Berry Vocals (Background)
Jambodians Various artists Vocals
Ridin With the Legend Keith Bryant Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
2005 A Fifth of Good Whiskey Blues: A Collection of Contemporary Blues Songs, Vol. 5 Etta Britt Primary Artist (Track #7 "Mama's Got Her Gun")
2006 From the Heart The Four Tops Vocals (Background as M.Britt)[18]
Long Stone's Throw Dan Mahar Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
2007 Between God And Country Andy Hersey Vocals (Background)
Blame It on the Margaritas Howard Livingston & Mile Marker 24 Vocals (Background)
Everybody's Brother Billy Joe Shaver Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
Live It Slow Keith Bryant Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
2008 2 Man Wrecking Crew Cedric Burnside Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
Best of B.J. Thomas [Curb] B.J. Thomas Vocals (Background)
Cash Cabin Sessions Vince Mira Vocals (Background)
Love And Money Chuck Cannon Vocals (Background)
Shake Rag Joel "Taz" DiGregorio Main Personnel, Vocals (Background)
2009 Gale House Storybook Spady Vocals (Background)
Vince Mira Vince Mira Vocals (Background)
2010 Bout Damn Time Kentucky Thunder Group Member
Joy of the Journey Jimmy Eugene Vocals (Background)
Sweet Home Alabama: The Country Music Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd Various artists Vocals (Background)
2012 What the Hell Is Goin' On? Paul Thorn Vocals (Background)
Out of the Shadows Etta Britt Primary Artist
2013 Advice from a Father to a Son Scott Ramminger Vocals
The Living Room Sessions B.J. Thomas Primary Artist
The Way Life Goes Tom Keifer Vocals (Background)
2014 Etta Does Delbert Etta Britt Primary Artist


Year Nominated work Category Result Notes
Country Music Association
1979 Dave & Sugar Vocal Group of the Year Nominated Dave Rowland, Sue Powell, Etta Britt [22]


  1. ^ a b c d e Weiss, Lori (7 November 2012). "It Ain't Over: Out Of The Shadows - Mom Signs Record Deal At 55". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  2. ^ C.M. WILCOX; Hallie Pritts (23 May 2012). "Five Questions with Etta Britt". California Country. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Etta Britt". Biography. Wrinkled Records. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  4. ^ Laura, Shine (6 September 2012). "ETTA BRITT IN-STUDIO". WFPK Radio Luisville. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e Brennan, Sandra. "Dave & Sugar Rowland". Artist Biography. AllMusic. Retrieved 12 October 2013. In 1977, Frantz tired of touring and was replaced by Sue Powell; the following year, Hackeman was replaced by Melissa Dean, and Dave & Sugar had their first number one hit, "Tear Time."
  6. ^ "Dave & Sugar Rowland". Awards. AllMusic. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 1979 "Golden Tears" Billboard Country Singles 1
  7. ^ "Dave & Sugar". Biography. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Bob Britt". Credits. AllMusic. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Etta Britt". Credits. AllMusic. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b Poster, Leslie (3 October 2012). "Press Pass". Etta Britt. Falls Church News-Press Online. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  11. ^ DiLorenzo, Kris (4 January 2013). "Etta Britt". Out of the Shadows. Rock's Backpages. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Etta on Today Show". Video Link. Wrinkled Records. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  13. ^ DiLorenzo, Kris (1 August 2012). "Delbert McClinton and Etta Britt, B.B. King's Club in New York, July 27". Rock's Backpages. Archived from the original on 1 May 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Etta Britt". Out of the Shadows. AllMusic. 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  16. ^ McGee, David (May 2012). "Beyond the Blue". Into The Light. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Melissa Dean". Credits. AllMusic. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Melissa Britt". Credits. AllMusic. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  19. ^ "Dave & Sugar Rowland Stay with Me/Golden Tears". Awards. AllMusic. 1979. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  20. ^ "Dave & Sugar Rowland New York Wine, Tennessee Shine". Awards. AllMusic. 1980. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  21. ^ "Dave & Sugar Rowland Pleasure". Awards. AllMusic. 1981. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  22. ^ "CMA AWARDS // ARCHIVE 1979". CMT. 1979. Retrieved 12 October 2013.

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