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Kellee (Expanded Edition)
Nº of Discs:
We are please to be releasing the 1976 album Kellee from Kellee Patterson, the release will be expanded with the inclusion of 4 Bonus tracks from Kellee's 1979 album All the Things You are (never on Cd before)
1 I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby
2 What You Don't Know
3 Mister Magic
4 You Are So Beautiful
5 I Love Music
6 Stop, Look & Listen To Your Heart
8 Time To Space
9 Once Not Long Ago
Bonus tracks from "All The Things You Are" (1979)
10 Let Go, Let Go
11 Fancy Dancer
12 So In Tune With You
13 Let Go, Let Go (Let Love Be The Driver) (6:41)
Extended Disco mix by Roy Thode
13 Let Go, Let Go (Let Love Be The Driver) (6:41)
Who saw it coming?
Who knew the local circuit of talented kids doing shows in Gary, Indiana would make their entertainment and societal marks?
Did young Kellee, who was helping to protect her little friend Michael from the crowds of admiring teens and tweens that wanted to pinch his cheeks and hug and kiss him- things like that scare a 6 year old- did she know that little Michael and his brothers (who as a group always aced the talent shows) would move on to something greater?
Did she know that she would earn as much money as many touring professionals of the time and build influence singing at weddings and more talent shows while at middle and high school? Kellee probably did. After all, Kellee always won best solo female singer at those talent shows. Always. Kellee probably did....but her parents certainly knew.
They expected as much. Things were changing. Gone were the days of Amos N' Andy and eternal subservience to the color line. These were the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial antagonists who wanted none of this progressive and fair civil rights stuff they were hearing. These people liked their color barriers reinforced. Helen Patterson- a Nurse, and Archie Patterson, an Insurance Executive were of that greatest generation forged by hard times. They knew the way forward for themselves and their 6 children was Education. Poise. Civic Duty. And a determination to succeed. The idea to look beyond the now, and see into the future. A PLAN.
Kellee you see, had a great deal of natural gifts. She could sing. She was incredibly beautiful. She was poised. She knew to sharpen and hone those gifts and was surrounded by the finest of educational influences. In addition to her parents rearing, Kellee went to the sophistication school of Nancy Wilson, The Suave school of Billy Eckstine, and the showmanship school of a then up and coming Barbra Streisand. Then, when Richard G. Hatcher was elected Mayor of Gary, Indiana in 1967- one of the first Black Mayors in the USA- Kellee and her contemporaries became politically galvanized. A perfect storm was now brewing, Beauty, Talent, Intelligence, Civic Awareness. What was to come next?
Well, actually MOTOWN came calling. At those times, northern to middle America was prime Motown talent recruitment territory. By this point High School senior Kellee had moved onto more talent shows and was singing in a local group called The Travelettes. And somebody saw something and told somebody else. And now, MOTOWN. Of course Kellee was dazzled by this attention. This was MOTOWN! She could sing and wear furs and travel, and write songs, and..............not so fast.
Helen & Archie wanted their daughter to finish her education. If you are that talented now, then with a degree you will not only be talented you will be invaluable. And even more talented. If Kellee was disappointed by that parental ruling she never slowed down a bit or wavered.
Now a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington, she learned analytical thinking, majoring in Sociology and African American studies.
No longer with The Travelettes, Kellee started to sing at the campus lounge- The Kiva. A young man in the audience asked Kellee if she would consider joining his band: Groovy and The Electras. And what was Kellee to sing? Well she was Black N' Beautiful so she would be the soul woman of this formerly pop-rock college band. It didn't come easy to Kellee at first, after all- Nancy Wilson and Billy Eckstine were not exactly gut-busting down home grits-n-church soul shouters, Sarah Vaughn was as poised as they came. Motown performers did not perspire. But Aretha Franklin was and did. And Kellee could sing the hell out of "Think" or "Respect". After all, she knew what the lyrics meant. She was that post-modern educated poised and demanding woman interpreted in those lyrics. And as such, Kellee wanted some way to convey the changing ideas and moods of the young community energized by their new black leaders. She heard about the Miss Gary Pageant- she figured it would give her a platform- some political clout. She could be a voice for the younger people. She was using what she had to get what she wanted- a voice for all the young people....she wanted a way in....
1971. The Miss Gary pageant was a few weeks away. Kellee won first place. Of course she did. All the hard work and training were paying off step by step. The next step was the State pageant and the title of Miss Indiana. Despite the feelings of entitlement and destiny from other, more blond entrants and subtle (and some not so subtle) sabotage, Kellee had now made history of her own as the first Black Woman to hold the title. She did it with style, and grace, and poise and talent. When you win the local and the state there is only one thing left: The Miss America Pageant.
What Kellee could do with that title~! She could be a real icon, a real force side-by-side with the others who were on the front lines who were "Saying it LOUD. I'm Black and I'm PROUD".
1972. Operation PUSH, an acronym for People United to Save (later Serve) Humanity, was an organization headed by the Reverend Jesse Jackson which advocated black self-help and achieved a broad audience for its stances on issues of social justice and civil rights. The First Black Political convention was coming to the nearby Chicago area. Kellee was there in the middle of it, invited by both Gary Mayor Hatcher and The Rev. Jesse Jackson as Our Black Woman representative of Miss America. Kellee (only the second Black contestant ever) does not win Miss America. Never mind that. She is a rising star in the pages of the Black magazines of the day: Ebony, Jet, Sepia, Black Stars Magazine. Kellee is inescapable. She can be seen giving a speech in one of the better documentaries of the Civil Rights Movement, "Eyes On The Prize". She co-stars with football great Gale Sayers on a Chicago daily talk show- Harambee. Enter Los Angeles based producer, keyboardist and owner of Black Jazz Records, Gene Russell. He wanted this future superstar for his budding label.
Kellee relocated to Los Angeles, with the full blessings of Helen & Archie who knew that their College graduate, Miss Indiana winner, Singer, Actor, Orator and most of all, Daughter- was 100 percent ready and fully prepared for anything this time. (Motown should have asked again- their loss.) A classy Pop/Jazz framework was the order of the day, a milieu Kellee felt most at home with. Sarah and Miss Nancy would have been proud. The 1973 album- "Maiden Voyage" was a success, selling more copies than any other Black Jazz Records album. It is a Jazz/Funk masterpiece which features the very first vocal version of the instrumental standard- Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage".
Gene Russell though, had larger sales ideas and ambitions for his label. Distribution problems plagued him as well as the larger and greater potential of crossing over to the Soul and popular music market. Television. Vegas. The Nightclub circuit, which in an interview that Gene granted Billboard magazine (R), Gene admired that Kellee could easily earn 7000 per week which was more than keyboardist Gene himself had ever earned playing Jazz, either solo or as a member of the Three Sounds. During this time Kellee was opening for Jazz Hall Of Famers: Tony Bennett and Les McCann. She began to venture into acting in 1975 as a co-star in an episode for "The Streets Of San Francisco" and a UK BBC production of "Demolition Man", for which she provided vocals (for all you rare groove soundtrack collectors out there). Gene knew Joe Sutton of Shadybrook Records who offered him a distribution deal and a home for his newly retitled (from Black Jazz) AquariCan label and production company.
And thus, Aquarican/Shadybrook Records was born. "Kellee" was the third album released on the label. And again, she was the biggest seller.
(To Be Continued in our second FTG release, the expanded version of "Be Happy".)