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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Myrna Smith born 28 May 1941


Myrna Yvonne Smith (May 28, 1941 – December 24, 2010) was an American songwriter and singer, who co-wrote many of the songs for Carl Wilson's 1981 solo album Carl Wilson, as well as a few of the songs on his 1983 solo album Youngblood. She was also a member of the Sweet Inspirations, which previously served as Elvis Presley's backing group.
Smith became a high school English teacher in South Brunswick, New Jersey in the 1960s, while she also pursued her singing career. The lead singer of her group, The Sweet Inspirations, was Cissy Houston, the mother of Whitney Houston.
The Sweet Inspirations had evolved from the Gospelaires group, whose members had included Myrna’s cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, Doris Troy and Judy Guions (later Judy Clay). The group were in demand for session work with many great artists, including Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett and the Drifters. Myrna replaced Dee Dee in 1965 after she left to pursue a solo career, and Estelle Brown also joined around the same time. Dionne and Doris were replaced by Cissy Houston and Sylvia Shemwell, respectively.

Clockwise from top. Sylvia Shemwell, Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith and Estelle Brown.

In 1967, the group was signed to Atlantic as the Sweet Inspirations. Their first release was a cover of “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and it was a top 40 hit on the R&B charts. The groups’ most successful song was “Sweet Inspiration”, which was cut during a two-day session at American Sound in Memphis in August 1967. The track hit number five on the R&B chart and was a top 20 pop hit.

 
The Sweet Inspirations continued to work as sessions singers during this period, appearing on classic cuts by artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin (“Chain of Fools”), Dusty Springfield (“Son of a Preacher Man”), Van Morrison (“Brown Eyed Girl”) and Jimi Hendrix (“Burning of the Midnight Lamp”).
In 1969, Myrna began her eight-year association with Elvis Presley when the Sweet Inspirations were chosen as his opening act and backing singers for his engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The Sweet Inspirations appeared with Elvis in more than 1,000 concerts and featured in the concert movies “That’s the Way It Is” and “Elvis On Tour”, as well as the television specials “Aloha from Hawaii” and “Elvis in Concert.” Myrna was married to Elvis Presley's high school friend, Jerry

Schilling from 1982 to 1987.
Myrna was still making records with the Sweet Inspirations during her period with Elvis, but with limited commercial success. However, following Elvis’ tragic death, they did back Frankie Valli on his number one single “Grease.” They also toured with the Bee Gees and released the disco album “Hot Butterfly” in this period, but with the record achieving limited success the group decided to break up.
After years apart, the Sweet Inspirations reformed in 1994 and continued to perform up until 2010. The Elvis association in particular assured them regular work, including touring with the “Elvis: The Concert” show, which features Elvis on screen and his original backing band playing live.
In 2005, the Sweet Inspirations released “In The Right Place”, which was their first solo recording in 25 years. The 15-track album featured a number of new songs and a great new recording of their biggest hit “Sweet Inspiration.” Myrna was joined on “In the Right Place” by Estelle Brown, Sylvia Shemwell and Portia Griffin.
While performing on the 'Elvis: The Concert' European tour in March 2010, Myrna developed pneumonia which eventually led to kidney failure and a stroke. She died on December 24, 2010, in Canoga Park, California, after an illness, at the age of 69.
Myrna was a great soul singer whose voice was featured on some of the finest records of the second half of the 20th century. She was also an important part of Elvis’ stage act and, by all accounts, a warm and friendly person.


ESTELLE BROWN - PORTIA GRIFFIN - MYRNA SMITH  2009
Estelle Brown, along with Portia Griffin made the difficult decision to replace Myrna with LA based singer Kelly Jones; as of March 2011, The Sweet Inspirations are continuing to perform backup vocals with Elvis: The Concert and continue to do many concerts worldwide with Elvis Presley Enterprises' first ever "Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist", Shawn Klush, sometimes as a duo and other times as a trio.  (Info edited from Wikipedia & Claasicpopicons) 


World's Greatest Elvis Show, St David's Hall, Cardiff, 1 Sep 2009

2 comments:

boppinbob said...

For The Sweet Inspirations album go here:
http://www48.zippyshare.com/v/8xRrIXFq/file.html
1. Oh! What A Fool I've Been
2. Blues Stay Away From Me
3. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream
4. Knock On Wood
5. Do Right Woman-Do Right Man
6. Don't Fight It
7. Sweet Inspiration
8. Let It Be Me
9. I'm Blue
10. Reach Out For Me
11. Here I Am (Take Me)
12. Why (Am I Treated So Bad)

(Forgot to add artwork)

punkinblue9 said...

Their "This World" was awesome! Didn't sound anything like the musical it was from. In fact, I bought the Original Cast album of "The Me Nobody Knows", thinking it was the same - not even close, but to their (Sweet Inspirations) credit and always a fave!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GJPao6ljIY