Marva Whitney, singer
James Brown
birth name: Marva Ann Manning

Marva Whitney

May 1, 1944, Kansas City, KS ~ December 22, 2012

Marva Whitney is baking a sweet-potato pie. Generous with the cinnamon and thrifty on the nutmeg, she'll serve it up during Christmas dinner at the Kansas City retirement home she calls home. “We're just gonna have a nice Christmas together,” she explains. Her tone is sweet and gentle, like that of a favored grandmother - a far cry from how she sounded 40 years ago, when she forged a place in funk history thanks to a formidably fearsome voice capable of shrieking in tandem with abrasively syncopated horn blasts. . ~ Village Voice: Pay Marva What You Owe Her ~ December 22, 2010 © Village Voice

Nicknamed by collaborator James Brown “Soul Sister Number 1.” ~ Rolling Stone: Marva Whitney Obituary ~ December 24, 2012 © Rolling Stone

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The singer began her career singing gospel music in Kansas City but found fame when she reluctantly joined the James Brown Revue in 1967 after turning down singing jobs with Bobby Bland and Little Richard. ~ Hollywood Reporter: Marva Whitney Obituary ~ December 24, 2012 © The Hollywood Reporter

Although she's not a household name, Marva Whitney is fondly remembered by funk devotees as one of the rawest, brassiest, most powerful divas the music ever produced. Along with fellow funk belters Lynn Collins and Vicki Anderson, Whitney made her name singing with the James Brown Revue for a few years, and her limited, much-sampled recordings for Brown-associated labels now fetch astronomical sums on the collector's market. Born in Kansas City, Whitney began performing at the age of three with her family's touring gospel group, the Manning Gospel Singers. She studied music in college and caught on as lead singer of the R&B group Tommy Gadson & the Derbys. In 1967, she signed on with the James Brown Revue as a featured female vocalist, meaning that she would perform her own small set every night while Brown took a break. ~ Allmusic: Marva Whitney ~ retrieved December 21, 2013 © Allmusic

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