Bobby Powell Biography

1941, Louisiana, USA. From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Powell was a heavily gospel-influenced soul artist, who achieved modest success in the 60s and 70s recording for small southern labels. He began his career in the church and singing in gospel groups, and in 1965 began recording for Lionel Whitfield’s Whit label in Shreveport, Louisiana. Powell secured his biggest success in 1965 with ‘C.C. Rider’ (number 1 on the Cash Box R&B chart), a remake of a 20s blues standard. He obtained another hit with the funky ‘Do Something For Yourself’ (number 21 R&B) from 1966, but his most impressive recording that year was ‘I’m Gonna Leave You’ (number 34 R&B), which with its stinging blues guitar and a shouting gospel chorus ranked as one of the funkiest, most down-home soul records in history. Powell achieved some regional success in 1969 with ‘In Time’, and reached the charts again in 1971 with a remake of Baby Washington’s ‘The Bells’ (number 14 R&B).

Beginning in the late 70s, Powell began recording for the Hep Me label, but despite some sizeable regional successes failed to reach the national charts. During the 80s he functioned as a perennial opening act in Baton Rouge - regardless of who came to town, Powell performed the opening gig. By the early 90s Powell had abandoned R&B to sing exclusively gospel music.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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