Thursday, October 27, 2011

White Girls On Motown:The Lewis Sisters

Until Motown set up their Rare Earth label for white rock n' roll acts, pale faces, other than Chris Clark, weren't something you associated with Motown.  To every rule there is an exception and that being two Caucasian jazz singers called The Lewis Sisters.  They were reputed to be school teachers (a Motown 45 single picture sleeve even credited them as "the singing school teachers") and both held music degrees. They cut just two singles for Motown via their V.I.P. imprint:

"You Need Me"/"Moonlight On The Beach" V.I.P.-25024 August 1964
"He's An Oddball"/"By Some Chance" V.I.P.-25018 May 1965

They really were sisters and their names are Helen and Kaye.  They startred out in the 50's as jazz singers bumping elbows with Les McCann with whom they recorded an LP for Liberty called "Way Out Far" in 1959.  Eventually they gravitated to Motown where they were initially signed as recording artists but eventually utilized for songwriting (penning the Gladys Knight and the Pips classic "Just Walk In My Shoes" among others) but their output there was limited to the two singles above.  The best of which for my money is "He's An Oddball". They did also record a number of vocal tracks for demos for the label, one of which was the brilliant "Don't Make Me Live Without Your Love" which is in my book their greatest effort. In fact it's among my top ten favorite all time soul tracks.  The track was issued on the essential double 2002 CD "A Cellarful Of Motown Volume 1".

Kaye's 15 year old daughter Lisa cut a 45 on V.I.P. as well called "Hang On Bill"/ "Puppet On A String" in 1965 (V.I.P.-25023).

Hear "He's An Oddball":

Hear "You Need Me":

Hear "Don't Make Me Live Without Your Love":

My old pal Larry Grogan blogged about them in a bit tacked onto a Bill Dogget piece on his Funky 16 Corners blog which you can read here:

A rare French E.P. featuring both of their V.I.P. sides,
courtesy of

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