Gloria Scott, Soul Survivor: “Tina would be like, ‘Why is Gloria always answering Ike? “” | Music

Yesou can understand why Gloria Scott thought her music had been forgotten. In truth, it hadn’t attracted much attention in the first place. His career crossed paths with some of the greatest soul artists of the 1960s and 1970s – Ike & Tina Turner, Sly Stone, Barry White, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes – but his own handful of records failed to make an impression.

In the mid-1990s, she was living in Guam, Western Pacific, singing in hotels, when a tourist said he knew her name: her 1974 single flop, (A Case of) Too Much Love Makin’ , had been a huge record on the European soul scene since the late 1980s, he claims. Lisa Stansfield covered it on her 1993 album So Natural. Copies of the seven-inch original were selling for exorbitant prices: the last time someone bought one on Discogs they paid £1,300. Scott, meanwhile, no longer even owned a copy of his solitary album, What Am I Gonna Do. Then she was contacted by the promoters of the Baltic Soul Weekender from Germany to ask her if she wanted to play, accompanied by an orchestra. “The audience knew every song on the album, they were singing louder than me, and I just stopped and listened,” she said with an incredulous smile, speaking via Zoom from her home in Florida.

She seems equally in disbelief that she is promoting a new album at the age of 76. Former Baltic Soul Weekender music director Andrew McGuinness says he discovered there were demos of an unfinished follow-up to What Am I Gonna Do “floating in the ether”. ”. He chose to make an album around them, re-recording them with Scott, alongside new material and a cover of Joe Smooth’s classic, Promised Land. The result is Gloria Scott’s second album, So Wonderful, a perfect sequel just 48 years after her debut.

In all fairness, Scott is the kind of character soul lovers love: his 1970s releases were obscure and extraordinarily good, and his story is one of a celebrity that never quite unfolds. She was discovered at age 17 while attending a high school dance in San Francisco: a friend pushed her to take the stage with the band, whose leader happened to be a pre-Family Stone Sly. He was, she says, “very protective, like my big brother”: he took her on tour, writing and producing a single, I Taught Him, in 1964. When it wasn’t a hit, she auditioned for become one of Ike & Tina Turner’s Ikettes.

“Oh, that was tough,” Scott said. “He fined us for everything. If I had a tag on my dress and one of the other girls didn’t see it, then he’d fine us all. If we didn’t have our wigs tight he would take them off, and if he took them off you would be fined for it. We all knew what was going on between him and Tina, and I didn’t like Ike because of it. Tina said, “Why does Gloria always answer Ike?” Nobody else answers Ike. But I didn’t respect him, I didn’t think he was a fair person at all, and I guess I was a bit sassy at the time. Inevitably, their relationship fell apart. When the Ikettes missed a flight, Scott announced that she would quit if Turner fined them. “He said, ‘Let the female dog quit.’ And that’s what I did.

‘Oh, that was hard’… Gloria Scott (far left) as Ikette, with Ike & Tina Turner. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Scott was working as a backup singer when she was introduced to Barry White, who offered to sign her. He secured her a recording contract with Casablanca Records, a label that became famous later in the 1970s for its lavishness. Produced by White, arranged by Gene Page, What Am I Gonna Do sounded like a triumph. But he disappeared without a trace: Casablanca failed to promote him, while White’s own career had grown so stratospheric that he “didn’t have time” to help Scott. “He probably didn’t know he was going to be this big,” she says. “He just exploded so fast.”

Scott was in line to replace Deniece Williams in Stevie Wonder’s backing band Wonderlove, but instead became one of the post-Diana Ross Supremes, with the band under significantly reduced circumstances: “I interviewed for work, and Mary Wilson said, ‘If you want to be a Supreme, you have to lose weight because we can’t afford to buy new dresses. So I lost 30 pounds, and I was there.

By the 1990s, Scott had faded from sight. It might have stayed that way if it hadn’t been for McGuinness, who says making a second Gloria Scott album has become something of a “spiritual call”. “I don’t know what the reason is,” he says, “but I just knew it had to be done.” So he saved the money he had earned playing “local blues gigs in pubs” to pay for Scott’s flight to the UK and musicians’ salaries. The album was half done when Covid hit: McGuinness lost gigs and business: ‘I had rehearsal rooms, a drum shop, a sound company and a studio, and it’s all gone now. And Boris Johnson wouldn’t pick up the phone – I got government funding of £400. But I told myself that I had to persevere. »

He ended up bringing in friends, including composer Andrew T Mackay, who scored the West End production of Life of Pi – he arranged a string quartet. “It was a long line of people pulling different resources from everywhere,” says McGuinness. “I think people picked up the vibe. They knew I wasn’t doing it for the Grammys and the ego. Eventually it was over, a wholly unexpected but worthy successor to Scott’s debut. She tells me she hasn’t seen a finished copy yet, so I hold up my sleeve in front of my laptop screen.

“Oh my God!” she exclaims, delighted and astonished. ” I can not believe ! »

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