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Gwen McCrae

Biography Discography Videos


Soul WalkingSoul Walking

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Best remembered for her number one R & B hit "Rockin' Chair" from 1975, Gwen McCrae was a gutsy Southern soul diva with a particular affinity for dance tracks. Along with her husband George ("Rock Your Baby"), Gwen was part of the Miami-based T.K. Records stable, which laid a great deal of groundwork for the disco explosion. Born Gwen Mosley in Pensacola, FL, in 1943, she grew up singing in her Pentecostal church and later discovered secular singers like Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. She began performing in local clubs as a teenager, also singing with local groups like the Lafayettes and the Independents. In 1963, she met a young Navy sailor named George McCrae, whom she married within a week. When George was discharged, he re-formed an earlier group he'd sung with called the Jivin' Jets, and invited Gwen to join as well. Soon, however, George and Gwen split off to form a duo -- aptly dubbed George & Gwen -- and moved to West Palm Beach to perform in clubs all over South Florida.

George & Gwen were discovered in 1967 by singer Betty Wright, who helped get them signed to Henry Stone's Alston label. Their debut single, "Three Hearts in a Tangle," was released in 1969; the follow-up, "Like Yesterday Our Love Is Gone," marked the first time they worked with the writing team of Clarence Reid (who would later morph into the bawdy comic Blowfly) and Willie Clarke. Both were regional hits, as was third single, "No One Left to Come Home," although none of those records broke nationally; meanwhile, the McCraes and Wright were collectively earning a reputation as stellar session vocalists. In 1970, one of Gwen's solo recordings, the Bobby "Blue" Bland cover "Lead Me On," was picked up by Columbia and became her first Top 40 hit on the R & B charts. In the wake of that breakthrough, George temporarily retired from singing to become her manager, and Alston leased her contract to Columbia; she recorded several more singles over the next few years, but without comparable chart success.

Columbia declined to renew McCrae's contract in 1973, and she was signed to a different Henry Stone label, the T.K. subsidiary Cat. She had a regional hit with "He Keeps Something Groovy Goin' On" that year, and then her second national hit with the R & B Top 20 "For Your Love" (originally recorded by Ed Townsend). However, her minor 1974 hit "It's Worth the Hurt" was overshadowed by George's across-the-board smash "Rock Your Baby," a song originally intended for Gwen that heralded disco's arrival on the pop charts. It was Gwen's turn in the spotlight the following year, when she took the sexy Reid/Clarke composition "Rockin' Chair" all the way to the top of the R & B charts, not to mention the pop Top Ten. In the wake of its success, McCrae released her first-ever album (also called Rockin' Chair) and scored further R & B hits with "Love Insurance" and "Cradle of Love."

Gwen McCrae By this time, the separate successes were taking their toll on the McCraes' marriage (Gwen has since alleged that her husband beat her frequently). A 1976 duet single, "Winners Together, Losers Apart," fell short of the R & B Top 40, and a full album of duets failed to assuage matters. The couple split later that year, and Gwen scored what turned out to be her last chart hit for Cat, "Damn Right It's Good." Despite a fine effort with the 1978 LP Let's Straighten It Out, McCrae's commercial momentum was stalled, and although 1979's "All This Love That I'm Giving" later became a favorite on Britain's Northern soul scene, it didn't attract much attention upon its release. With the T.K. label family in serious financial trouble, McCrae moved to New Jersey and signed with Atlantic in 1980, a stint that produced two albums (Gwen McCrae and On My Way) and several chart singles still prized by collectors: "Funky Sensation," "Poyson," and "Keep the Fire Burning." Feeling underpromoted, McCrae moved back to Florida, cut a one-off single for the small Black Jack label in 1984 called "Do You Know What I Mean," and retired from the music business.

McCrae was rediscovered by the British Northern soul and rare groove scenes during the '80s, and she traveled to England to record a couple of singles for Rhythm King in 1987. Pleased with her enduring popularity in the U.K., McCrae eventually recorded an entire album for the British Homegrown label in 1996, titled Girlfriend's Boyfriend. Upon returning to America, she signed with the revived Goldwax label, distributed by Ichiban, and recorded another album later that year, Psychic Hot Line. In 1998, Ichiban reissued Girlfriend's Boyfriend in the U.S. McCrae returned in 1999 with Still Rockin', which received favorable reviews in blues and classic soul circles.

Steve Huey of All Music Guide.

Funky Sensation - Live in London
Rockin' Chair
All This Love That I'm Giving

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1976Something So Right
1978Let's Straighten It Out
1979Melody of Life
1981Gwen McCrae
1982On My Way
1996Psychic Hot Line
1998Girlfriend's Boyfriend
1999Still Rockin'
2004I'm Not Worried
2006Live in Paris at New Morning
2006Gwen McCrae Sings TK


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1975 Rockin' Chair

01. Rockin' Chair
02. Move Me, Baby
03. He Keeps Something Groovy Going On
04. Let Them Talk
05. For Your Love
06. It's Worth the Hurt
07. 90% of Me Is You
08. It Keeps on Raining
09. He Doesn't Ever Lose His Groove
10. Your Love Is Worse Than a Cold Love

1976 Together

01. I'll Do the Rockin'
02. You and I Were Made for Each Other
03. Mechanical Body
04. I'm Comin' at You
05. Let's Dance Dance Dance
06. Winners Together or Losers Apart
07. Homesick, Lovesick
08. The Rub
09. Let Your Love Do the Talkin'
10. I Ain't Lyin'
11. You Got to Know
12. Take This Love of Mine
13. Do Something
14. Every Time You Say Goodbye
15. How I Feel

1976 Something So Right

01. Something So Right
02. Tears on My Pillow
03. Love Without Sex
04. Mr. Everything
05. Iron Woman
06. Damn Right It's Good
07. Let Nature Take Its Course
08. I've Got Nothing to Lose But the Blues

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1978 Let's Straighten It Out

01. Early Morning Love
02. Starting All Over Again
03. Tonight's The Night
04. Signed Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)
05. Let's Straighten It Out
06. Love Insurance
07. Cradle of Love
08. At Bedtime

1979 Melody of Life

01. All This Love That I'm Giving
02. I Can Only Think Of You
03. Maybe I'll Find Somebody New
04. I Found A New Love
05. The Joy
06. Ease The Pain
07. The Melody Of Life

1981 Gwen McCrae

01. Funky Sensation
02. Poyson
03. Feel So Good
04. All My Love
05. Stood The Test
06. Do You Wanna Be Mine
07. No Deposit/No Return
08. Have A Good Time
09. Movement

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1982 On My Way

01. Hang In
02. Make Believe
03. Keep The Fire Burning
04. I Need To Be With You
05. Be For Real
06. Hey World
07. I Didn't Take Your Man
08. Doin' It

1996 Psychic Hot Line

01. Cry To Me
02. Loving Peter To Pay Back Paul
03. Standing Room Only
04. Do That To Me One More Time
05. Rocking Chair
06. Psychic Hot Line
07. Your Love Keeps Turning Me Around
08. The Soul Of A Man
09. Today I Sing The Blues
10. Your Kinda Loving Ain't Good Enough
11. The Snake That Hisses
12. Love And Affection

1998 Girlfriend's Boyfriend

01. Keep The Fire Burning (re-recording)
02. Funky Sensation (re-recording)
03. Pass It On
04. You Gotta Get Tough
05. Only Takes One Touch
06. We Have The Power
07. Does It Matter
08. Girlfriends Boyfriend
09. Lost In Love
10. Natural Woman
11. All This Love
12. Anything You Want
13. Keep The Fire Burning (Stonebridge Mix Edit)
14. Keep The Fire Burning (Stonebridge Mix)
15. Keep The Fire Burning (Jjs Mix)

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1999 Still Rockin'

01. Still Rockin'
02. Show Me The Sun
03. Long Way Home
04. Don't Wanna Lose Your Love
05. Hurts Too Much To Talk About It
06. Loving Peter To Pay Back Paul
07. Psychic Hot Line
08. Your Love Keeps Turning Me Around
09. Your Kinda Loving Ain't Good Enough
10. Heal The Land

2004 I'm Not Worried

01. Waiting on You Lord
02. I'm Not Worried
03. Back to Church (Trust in the Lord, Pass Me Not, What a Fellowship)
04. At the River
05. Will You Meet Me
06. Last Days
07. Move on Up
08. Highest Praise
09. We Need Him
10. Walk Around Heaven
11. Hold My Hand

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2006 Live in Paris at New Morning

01. 90 Percent Of Me Is You
02. It's Been Raining
03. Cradle Of Love
04. All This Love That I'm Givin'
05. For Your Love
06. Lead Me On
07. Keep The Fire Burning
08. Make Me Yours
09. Funky Sensation
10. Rockin' Chair/Rock Your Baby

2006 Gwen McCrae Sings TK

01. Rockin' Chair (W/ a Little Taste of Latimore)
02. Rock Your Baby
03. What You Won't Do for Love
04. Jazz Freak Gwen McCrae
05. Please Don't Go
06. Let's Straighten It Out
07. Keep It Comin' Love
08. Why Can't We Live Together
09. 90% of Me Is You
10. Clean Up Woman
11. Party Down
12. Misty Blue
13. Honey Honey
14. You Gotta Love Me (Like I Love Me)
15. Rockin' Chair

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Graphics by YSM

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