15. The discovery of Willie Mae Thornton!
Hound Dog and Down Home Shakedown ~ Big Mama Thornton, 1965
Holy shit! How have I not found this woman earlier!
-Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) was an American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. She was the first to record Leiber and Stoller’s “Hound Dog” in 1952, which became her biggest hit.
-Thornton’s performances were characterized by her deep, powerful voice and strong sense of self. She tapped into a liberated black feminist persona, through which she freed herself from many of the expectations of musical, lyrical, and physical practice for black women. She was given her nickname, “Big Mama,” by Frank Schiffman, manager of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, due to her big voice, size, and personality. Thornton made it a point to use her voice to its full potential, once stating that she was louder than any mic and that she didn’t want a mic to ever be as loud as she was. Her big voice was something she became known for as an artist