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Celebrating African American Music Appreciation Month with Ann Peebles and Danielia Cotton and The Womack Sisters

Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section “Live in Memphis” 30th anniversary concert recording, Danielia Cotton’s new album and The Womack Sisters' upcoming EP — plus, flip sides!

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter created Black Music Appreciation Month, celebrating a variety of genres including gospel, blues, jazz, R&B and rock and roll. In the spirit of what is now known as African American Music Appreciation Month, we dedicate this Fabulous Flip Sides article to three Black artists who deserve recognition.

   

In 1992, Ann Peebles & the Hi Rhythm Section performed at a special concert, courtesy of Memphis International Records’ David Less. The event ended with Peebles’ Top 10 1973 R&B hit, “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” 

Danielia Cotton, who we spoke with in 2020 about her powerful EP A Different War is back with the full-length soulful album Good Day. The Womack Sisters are the daughters of the 1980s R&B duo Womack & Womack, the nieces of Bobby Womack who hit the R&B Top 10 eleven times in the 1970s and 1980s, and the granddaughters of R&B legend from the 1950s and 1960s Sam Cooke. The trio’s self-titled EP, to be released soon, ends with a Sam Cooke classic.

  

PART ONE – ANN PEEBLES

Peebles lp

GOLDMINE: Congratulations on Live in Memphis. It is a wonderful album from a concert called An Evening of Classic Soul that David Less assembled 30 years ago.

ANN PEEBLES: Thirty years ago, my goodness!

GM: A song that you sang that night is one I heard on the radio in 1968 and was among the first singles that I bought growing up, “(You Keep Me) Hangin’ On” by Joe Simon, who passed away last year.

AP: That is just a beautiful song. I liked the way Joe did it. The first time that I heard that song is when he did it on stage as his new record. I thought that I also had to record it one someday. 

GM: At the end of the 1970s you had a song called “If You Got the Time (I’ve Got the Love)” which is nice and a slightly different style for you.

AP: It is so pretty, and it was recorded at a very happy time.

GM: The flip side of the single was “Let Your Love Light Shine” and is on the new live recording. It is a fun song.

AP: Oh yeah! I love that song. 

GM: Around that time the group Parliament had a single out called “Flash Light” which was popular on my college juke box and I was reminded of that song, too.

AP: Oh yeah! I forgot about “Flash Light.” 

Peebles flip side

Ann Peebles

Fabulous Flip Side: Let Your Love Light Shine

A side: If You Got the Time (I’ve Got the Love)

Billboard Hot Soul Singles debut March 24, 1979

Peak position: 95

Hi H 79528

"I said that we could always sing it to the audience when my husband Don and I were writing it, telling them to just let your lovelight shine.” - Ann Peebles

  

GM: It is such a positive message. The concert recording ends, of course, with your biggest hit “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” Who did you and Don write this song with?

AP: It was Bernard Miller who was a disc jockey and a friend of ours. He came over one night. We were sitting around while it was stormy and rainy and all of a sudden, I said, “Ooh. I can’t stand this rain.” Don said, “Oh. Good title!” We ended up writing the song “I Can’t Stand the Rain” that night.

GM: That Grammy nominated hit has become a favorite for so many people.

AP: It was also the year Don and I got married so that was an exciting time.

GM: The ending on “Part Time Love” with the Hi Rhythm Section’s Howard Grimes on drums is wonderful.

AP: The Hi Rhythm Section were recording with me on my records. They were mostly a studio band but would go out with me for my shows every once in a while. They were great guys.

GM: “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” is quite bluesy.

AP: Yes, bluesy and sassy. I like that song. It was something so many people were going through at the time. Some women would like another woman’s guy and they would get into arguments and say something like, “I’m gonna tear your playhouse down.” Earl Randle, who wrote it said, “These women today will tear your playhouse down!”

GM: I was describing your voice to my wife Donna as somewhere between Tina Turner and Gladys Knight.

AP: Wow, that’s nice. I like Tina and I like Gladys, so that is so sweet. Don and I are music lovers and love doing it. We thank you so much for sharing our music with your Goldmine readers. 

   

PART TWO – DANIELIA COTTON

Peebles Danielia lp

GM: Welcome back to Goldmine and congratulations on Good Day.

DANIELIA COTTON: Thank you. My producer Dave O’Donnell assembled a dream team. Charlie Drayton was on drums and then went on tour with Bob Dylan as soon as we finished. Marc Copely had just moved here to Woodstock from Nashville and is one of my favorite guitar players ever. Matt Beck from Matchbox Twenty played guitar and keyboards. Andy Hess is a phenomenal bass player, formerly with The Black Crowes. Ben Stivers is a great keyboardist and has played and recorded with The Bee Gees. Colin Schmidt did great background vocals. Kareem Devlin is my partner in crime and guitarist who co-wrote “Supercool.” Due to the pandemic, these guys weren’t touring and became available for session work. It is such a blend of talent. I think about Ann Peebles’ “Let Your Love Light Shine” that you sent me, which was so fun, and hard to classify into a specific music category. That is what I want to be, too, an artist where people don’t know what genre to put me in, with a lot of different elements.

GM: “Follow Me” is my favorite of the new songs on your album.

DC: Wow, yeah! I love “Follow Me.” It may be hard to imagine but I was influenced by Liam Gallagher of Oasis with their arena-like choruses. It is an anthem to get out of the dark. Follow me. I am going here, to the light, c’mon, c’mon.

GM: I guess I can hear a touch of “Wonderwall” in it. It can even have a spiritual interpretation.

DC: Yes. I am saying that I know where you are. I’ve been there and you don’t have to be there. We have internal battles with ourselves. We have a dark side, and we have a light side. I do think human beings have a Jekyll and Hyde aspect. It can be an and can be interpreted a lot of different ways.

GM: You mentioned co-writing “Supercool” with Kareem. Last time, we talked about Stevie Wonder. I hear a bit of him and a bit of Prince in this love song.

DC: Kareem and I embrace soulfulness that is a little different. With Stevie Wonder and Prince, I think it is hard to put their music into a decade. As I am writing, I am so into Stevie Wonder right now, especially his song “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” from his Innervisions album. I am really proud of how well “Supercool” is being received.

GM: The title song “Good Day” is very positive. It has a bit of a sound and “the right to dare to dream” is an empowering statement.

DC: Jeff Cohen, who I co-wrote a lot of the songs with, is an incredible lyricist. A lot of times I had the music done but I was lyrically stuck, and Jeff would take me a step further. I had lost my mother-in-law. He was losing his father, who actually died during the course of our writing. There was a lot going on. I think every radio station said they wouldn’t play new songs during the pandemic if they were slow. You were pushed to write in a certain vein which was challenging, and it was good to be propelled out of your comfort zone. 

“We were trying to keep ourselves up and whoever was listening while many of us were experiencing bleak times.” – Danielia Cotton

  

GM: “Today I celebrate you” is a wonderful line on “Good Soldier,” which is a bluesy number. I love the piano as well.

DC: That was my ode to Elton John. My other half, Sam has mantle cell lymphoma, which is why I run marathons to raise money for cancer research, as there is no cure. It is pretty aggressive and can take most people out in three years and we’re in his third year. Every run makes me value life and health more than ever, for Sam, for me, for our daughter Olivia, for everyone. Sam is young and professionally he fights for people who can’t afford representation. I thought, he is a good soldier. He dedicated his life to what he is now doing, and I am told that he is one of the best that they have ever seen where he works, making me think of Billy Joel’s song “Only the Good Die Young.” The great ones are taken before it is time. Writing “Good Soldier” and singing “there’ll never be another you” was easy for me, straight from the heart.

GM: “Won’t Get It from Me” also deals with a relationship but is totally different.

DC: Sam co-wrote the lyrics to that chorus. It was me, Sam and Jeff as the writers. In a relationship, no one can give us our truth, but ourselves.

GM: You mentioned a few losses earlier. Since we last talked, I wrote about the loss of your family friend Michael Lang.

DC: Yes. Sam’s uncle John Roberts was one of the four guys with Michael Lang who put the Woodstock festival together. When we found out about Michael, it hit us deeply. We have lost so many people since our 2020 interview, constantly taking out some great people. We couldn’t catch our breath.

GM: Yes, our monthly In Memoriam article that I write is a lot longer now, unfortunately. Many surviving legacy artists are doing farewell tours. How about your concert plans?

DC: Many of us independent artists are struggling. Now we are up against the big guns, because the pandemic put them behind and they are bidding for shows at small venues that they normally wouldn’t have taken. Now they are taking those slots after being off the road for two years. I feel sorry for the little guy being up against acts he would never imagine being up against. I don’t retiring but getting concert dates is tough. If I had a big name, I would throw a bone out there to independent acts to open shows. They should support their own people. Pay it back and let them open for your audiences. In the meantime, I continue to spend time with my vocal coach, working on my music. I had cancer. We have been double hit in our family. After they took out my thyroid, I gained an octave, which is unheard of. I am hitting notes now in my fifties that I couldn’t hit in my twenties. I am probably in the best form vocally that I have ever been in. I’ll just keep on going until my voice goes. Tony Bennett, even with Alzheimer’s was hitting crazy smooth notes in his nineties. I take piano lessons, guitar lessons and have a vocal coach. Whatever I am doing, I want to improve upon it. My piano teacher worked with Stevie Wonder and told me that Stevie had a vocal coach. Big stars do it and I think it is the way to go. Thank you for being so thorough with me about my music on our interviews. The way you get so deep into the music, I think is a dying art. I hope we never lose that aspect. I am pleased that Goldmine still exists in print in addition to being online. Please fight to continue to do what you do so that it doesn’t become a lost art. Stay out there. We love reading what you write. I am so glad you enjoy the new album and wait until you hear what is next. Thank you so much.

   

PART THREE – THE WOMACK SISTERS

Peebles Womack ep

GM: I am so pleased to welcome you to your Goldmine debut. “Lost for Words” is an exciting opener on your upcoming EP. The beat reminds me of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and some of Michael Jackson’s work.

BG WOMACK: Thank you. We love to do a bit of old school blending. We are very inspired by retro throwback sounds. The themes of our songs always relate to personal experiences with us. Who hasn’t been through a shady relationship before where you know somebody is doing you dirty, but you aren’t the type to rifle through something? It is about being in a relationship where you can’t trust that person and you finally follow them around town and find what you dreamt in your worst nightmares. 

GM: “Blocked” comes next with a softer sound. It is soulful with a great guitar flavor and a touch of TLC. I love your modern references in your lyrics, “Don’t get yourself on my blocked list.”

KUCHA WOMACK: Thank you. We love TLC. I think we’ve all been there when you are seeing someone amazing and you share your personal contact information, in the times we are in. Then you are put to a test by that person taking you for granted time after time. “Blocked” can really go for any situation. We wanted to offer a relatable relationship. 

GM: The high vocal range on “Wave” reminds me of Minnie Riperton.

KW: Thank you again! That is BG and me. “Wave” describes an experience where you might see somebody from afar and really want to talk to them or get to know them, but you are cautious and are looking for a sign to know that you can make that next step. It is so poetically written where you can put your own scenario into the song, where you are looking for that opening, maybe give them a smile or slight wave, showing that it is OK.

GM: You tackle real life issues lyrically in “Livin’ In” with lines including, “Public storage, that’s where I take my things. Paying mortgage on a house that is not a home. Staying together to prove them wrong.”

ZEIMANI WOMACK: “Livin’ In” deals with a relationship that has toxic situations going on. Either we’re putting our hands on each other or we are cheating on each other and find ourselves moving out and breaking up constantly, but this time I am not coming back, but then you end up taking your things out of storage and put them right back in that apartment, but the love you had just isn’t coming back. You end up walking away because some things just don’t last forever.

KW: There is a talented writer that we collaborated with on that song name Draft. A beautiful collaboration led to a great song. It is cool how it came about. Life’s experiences help you to relate to anyone who has been through something similar where a man won’t take it to the next level, or a woman doesn’t commit further. It gives you an insight to what may be happening in your future.

GM: Now let’s talk about your family. “Lookin’ for a Love” was released in 1962 by The Valentinos, sung by your Uncle Bobby, with your dad and three of your uncles in the vocal quintet from my hometown of Cleveland. Then the J. Geils Band released a version of it a decade later, followed by your Uncle Bobby’s solo version reaching the R&B Top 10.

KW: We went back to Cleveland to see the house where our dad and our uncles were raised. It was no bigger than a one bedroom apartment. Our grandfather, Papa Womack worked two jobs to afford that for his family. He got them through and pushed them in music. It was very big for us to go back and see the location where they told so many stories about. So many artists have come of out Cleveland. It is like, was there something in the water?

GM: It was a great place musically to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s. Your dad and mom released some beautiful songs in the 1980s as Womack & Womack, including “Baby I’m Scared of You.” Your other grandfather, Sam Cooke wrote and recorded classic favorites including a flip side that was released unfortunately right after he passed away, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

KW: I feel it is monumental not only in our family but to the music community. This song has made such an impact on the world. We have had the pleasure of talking to a lot of people whose lives have been changed by music, helping them and inspiring them. It is important as this was his last song, and he was getting into his civil rights mode. He had much more to say, and he wanted to do more. Now we live in a time where artists are struggling with whether or not they want to be commercial or get involved with what is going on in the streets and in their community. Do they want their music to be about the club or the civil rights movement? It is a big debate now and it was a turning point then for our grandfather, where he felt that he just didn’t want to sing another love song at that moment. We just want to channel some of his passion and commitment.

GM: Like his original recording, your version opens majestically and then shifts to a gospel sound with an organ and showcases your harmonies. It is a wonderful closing number that I look forward to sharing.

KW: Thank you. We were singing from the heart, just trying to pay homage. We have been working at our music for so long. It’s crazy that the release is finally happening. 

Peebles Cooke flip side

Sam Cooke

Fabulous Flip Side: A Change is Gonna Come

A side: Shake

Billboard Top 100 debut: January 9, 1965

Peak position: No. 7

RCA Victor 47-8486

“Now we live in a time where artists are struggling with whether or not they want to be commercial or get involved with what is going on in the streets and in their community. Do they want their music to be about the club or the civil rights movement? It is a big debate now and it was turning point then for our grandfather, where he felt that he just didn’t want to sing another love song at that moment.” – Kucha Womack, The Womack Sisters

  

GM: Thank you for your music and continuing your family’s heritage. It is diverse, entertaining and important.

KW: Thank you so much. It means so much to be able to share it with the world and I am glad it’s being received. When people enjoy it, it really touches us. Thank you so much.

ZW: Thank you for having us.

BW: I can’t wait to do this again.

   

Related Links:

Goldmine 2022 Ann Peebles album review

memphisinternational.com

Goldmine 2020 Danielia Cotton interview

facebook.com/danieliacotton

thewomacksisters.com

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides now in its eighth year

goldminemag.com/columns/fabulous-flip-sides