December 6, 1925|
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
|Origin||Oakland, California, U.S.|
|Died||May 15, 2005
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Years active||c.1955 - c.1970|
|Labels||Candix, Serock, KT, Mercury|
Kilgore was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was brought up in Oakland, California. She began singing in church. Her first recording, on which she was billed as Theola Kilgord, was as the featured vocalist on "Look To The Hills" by the Mount Zion Spiritual Choir, released in 1955. While working as a gospel singer in the late 1950s, she befriended Sam Cooke's talent manager, J. W. Alexander, who introduced her to singer and record producer, Ed Townsend. Her first secular recording was "The Sound of My Man (Working on a Chain Gang)", an answer record to Cooke's 1960 hit, "Chain Gang".
She registered her biggest hit with "The Love of My Man", an adaptation of "The Love of God" as recorded by the Soul Stirrers. The record, on the Serock label, a subsidiary of Scepter Records, reached #3 on the R&B charts in 1963, and #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Her follow-up record, "This Is My Prayer", reached #60 on the Hot 100 chart, after which Kilgore and Townsend launched their own KT label. Kilgore toured widely, but later follow-ups, mostly arranged by René Hall, were less successful. She also recorded for Mercury Records. One of her later singles, "It's Gonna Be Alright", became popular on the UK Northern Soul scene.
- "Theola Kilgore, 79; 1960s-Era Rhythm and Blues Performer", Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2005. Retrieved 22 February 2017
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 244.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 381. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- "Deaths", Billboard, June 4, 2005, p.76