Tuesday 31 December 2019

Johnnie Mae Matthews born 31 December 1922

Johnnie Mae Matthews (December 31, 1922 – January 6, 2002) was an American blues and R&B singer, songwriter, and record producer from Bessemer, Alabama. Known as the “Godmother of Detroit Soul” and as the first African American female to own and operate her own record label (Northern Recording Company) she was an early influence on the careers of many of the now-famous recording stars who began their careers in Detroit, Michigan such as Otis Williams, David Ruffin, and Richard Street of the Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, Timmy Shaw, Barbara Lewis, Bettye LaVette and many more.

Matthews learned to sing in her church choir, and also performed with her mother at military bases throughout the Deep South. When she was twelve years old, the family relocated to New Jersey, and in 1947 Matthews left her parents home and moved to Detroit, Michigan where she married and started her own family. In 1957 she joined a local quintet called the Five Dapps, assuming lead vocals on "You're So Unfaithful," which was the B-side of their 1958 debut single, "Do Wop a Do". The Instrumental backing on the record was done by pianist Joe Hunter, who would frequently collaborate with Matthews in the years to follow, and later led Motown's famed studio band, the Funk Brothers.

In 1958, Matthews formed her own record label, dubbed the “Northern Recording Company”. Headquartered in an office at 2608 Blaine in Detroit, just a few blocks from her home, she used $85 borrowed from her husband's paycheck to become the first African-American woman to own and operate her own label. With sessions typically recorded at either nearby “Special Studio” or at radio station WCHB, Northern Recording Company was largely used as a vehicle to launch her own solo recording career. Her first release, "Dreamer", in 1959, was credited to “Johnnie Mae Matthews & the Daps”. Her follow-up single, "Mr. Fine", featured on its B-side, a song named "Someday", which was a solo tune by local singer Chet Oliver.

Motown Records founder, Berry Gordy has often credited Matthews with teaching him the ropes of the recording industry. He acknowledged her assistance in helping land a distribution deal with “Chess Records” for “The Miracles” 1959 hit "Bad Girl". It's impossible to know how differently Matthews' own recording career might have turned out had she accepted any of invitations of Berry Gordy to record for Motown, particularly during the mid-'60s, when she was delivering some of her finest material, most notably "Lonely You'll Be" and "Cut Me Loose," in 1967, the latter of which was subsequently licensed for national distribution on the Atco Records label

In her 1960 tune, "So Lonely," Matthews dropped the Dapps altogether. She then, quickly followed up with her second 
solo, "Ooh Wee Baby." On both of these recordings she was backed by a band called the “Groovers”, a group that was led by Joe Hunter, and also included bassist James Jamerson, guitarist Eddie Willis, saxophonist Eli Fontaine, and drummer Uriel Jones, all of who would become staples of Motown's greatest sessions as members of the, now famous, Funk Brothers Band.

Also in 1960 the label issued "Come On," the debut single by “The Distants” who were later renamed “The Temptations”. In time, Northern spun off a series of sister labels, most notably “Reel”, which was the label of several of Ms. Matthews’ singles, such as "Oh, Baby", "No One Can Love Me the Way You Do", "The Headshrinker", and "Come Home", all of which were released in 1961.


In 1963 she hired manager Ollie McLaughlin, who had previously launched the career of “Barbara Lewis”. McLaughlin brought Matthews to the attention of Mercury Records’ new Blue Rock subsidiary, where he eventually produced both of her singles for that label, "Baby, What's Wrong", and "My Man (The Sweetest Man in the World)". 
During the late '60s Matthews also cut a series of excellent singles for her “Big Hit” label, including "I Have No Choice", "My Momma Didn't Lie", and "Don't Be Discouraged"

 However, as the decade of the sixties came to a close, so did Northern Recording Company and all of her subsidiaries, and as the 1970s were being ushered in, Matthews turned her attention to “Black Nasty” an up and coming funk group that featured two of her children, Artwell and Aubrey. In 1973, Matthews produced the band's only album, “Talking to the People”, which was released on the “Stax” record label.

“Black Nasty” was later renamed “The ADC Band” and the group resurfaced in 1978 with the R&B smash "Long Stroke". Encouraged by their success, Matthews revived Northern Recording Company around this time, with the ADC Band supplying the musical backing on the disco-inspired tune "It's Good", which was later re-issued on the “Cotillion Records” label for national distribution. After one final Northern effort, 1980s "I Can Feel It," she closed the label for good, effectively ending her recording career.

Matthews died after a long bout with cancer on January 6, 2002. She was 79 years old.        (Edited from Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For “Johnnie Mae Matthews - Mama Didn't Lie. 1958 – 1971 recordings.” Go here:


Though missing a few tracks this collections contains a solid portion of Matthews' recordings from 10 different labels between 1958 and 1971.Please note quality may vary as some are taken from various vinyl sources.

A big thank you goes to the Groovy Gumbo blog for the original post.
For her 1971 – 1982 recording links go here:

01. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1958 - You're Unfaithful [w Her Dapps] (Brax 208) +.mp3
02. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1959 - Dreamer [w Her Dapps] (Northern 3727) ##.mp3
04. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1959 - Mr Fine [w Her Dapps] (Northern 3729) +.mp3
05. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1960 - So Lonely (Northern 3732).mp3
06. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1960 - Help Me (Northern 3732).mp3
07. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1960 - Give Me True Love (Northern 3736).mp3
08. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1960 - Ooh Wee (Northern 3736).mp3
10. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1960 - You Worrie Me (Reel 3743) ##.mp3
11. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1961 - No One Can Love Me (The Way You Do) (Reel 3745).mp3
12. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1961 - No More Tears (Reel 3745) ##.mp3
14. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1961 - My Destination (It True Love) (Northern 3746).mp3
15. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1961 - My Little Angel (Reel 112).mp3
16. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1961 - The Headshrinker (Reel 112).mp3
17. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1962 - Come Home (Reel 119).mp3
19. Johnny Mae Matthews - 1963 - I Don't Want Your Loving (Reel 120) +.mp3
21. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1963 - I Won't Cry Anymore (Reel 122).mp3
22. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1964 - Worried About You (Spokane 4008).mp3
23. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1964 - Itty Bitty Heart (Spokane 4008).mp3
24. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1964 - Baby What's Wrong (Blue Rock 4001).mp3
25. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1964 - Here Comes My Baby (Blue Rock 4001).mp3
26. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1965 - My Man (Blue Rock 4011).mp3
27. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1965 - I Can't Live Without You (Blue Rock 4011).mp3
28. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1966 - Don't Talk About My Man (Big D 855).mp3
29. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1966 - He Really Loves Me (Big D 855).mp3
30. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1966 - Luck Walked Through My Door (Audrey 100).mp3
31. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1966 - Love Hides All Faults (Audrey 100).mp3
33. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1967 - Lonely You'll Be (Jam 103).mp3
34. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1967 - That's What My Man (Is For) (Jam 103).mp3
35. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1967 - Cut Me Loose (Art 002) +.mp3
36. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1967 - Got To Be On The Case (Art 003).mp3
37. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1967 - You're The One (Art 003).mp3
38. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1968 - Two Sided Thing (Big Hit 104).mp3
39. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1968 - You Make Me Feel Good (Big Hit 104).mp3
40. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1968 - I Have No Choice (Big Hit 105).mp3
41. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1968 - That's When It Hurts (Big Hit 105).mp3
42. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1969 - Mama Didn't Lie (Big Hit 108) +.mp3
43. Johnnie Mae Matthews - 1971 - Don't Be Discouraged (Big Hit 111).mp3

pedro B said...

Thats a pity that the file is no longer available was looking forward to JMM

boppinbob said...

Hello Pedro, Here's a new link.