To give you an idea of how much of a music (read: R&B) geek I was when I was younger (which isn’t to say that I’m not now), my friends and I once had a discussion of which female R&B singers didn’t get the love that we felt they deserved. In other words, after you got past the Arethas, the Pattis, the Chakas, the Gladys’s and the Anitas, who else should be showered with love and accolades? Some of the names we threw out: Teena Marie, Stephanie Mills and Phyllis Hyman were three. I always say Stephanie Mills and even Melba Moore should be on the list. But one singer that I demanded be included was Patti Austin.
Why Patti Austin? Well, she might be one of the most versatile vocalists I’ve ever heard sing. You want her to sing something from the Great American Songbook? She can do that. Need her to do a pop ballad? Done that too, and even hit #1 with a duet. Want some R&B? Most definitely, she has that up her sleeve. She’s even done commercial jingles, and sung backup for a list of artists so long, I might be writing until tomorrow to list them all.
Today, for my #RomanticTuesday song, I’m reaching way back to Ms. Austin’s second solo album, 1977’s Havana Candy. It’s a little pop-soul song called “We’re In Love.”
When Austin released this album and song, she may have still been singing jingles and doing background vocals for some of the best in the business. She was one year away from appearing on her godfather Quincy Jones’ album Sounds…And Stuff Like That! On that album she sung lead on several songs, including a remake of Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)”, and a duet with Luther Vandross called “I’m Gonna Miss You In The Morning”.
Music has been a part of Austin’s life since she was a little girl. She was urged on stage at the Apollo by Dinah Washington at the tender age of four. By her late teens, she was already doing session work. Throughout her career, she has been able to do a little bit of everything vocally. Today’s song is one of my favorites of her early solo work on CTI records, the label headed by Creed Taylor, which was best known for its releases by George Benson, Grover Washington, Jr. and other jazz fusion artists. The song itself didn’t do a whole lot—it peaked at #90 on the R&B list. But it features one of the best female singers working, to these ears at least. And the song’s lyrics are the very definition of romantic.
I hope you enjoy this performance by Patti Austin; I’m sure she’ll be featured again here on the blog. As always, thanks for reading and listening.