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Soul singer who blended the full-bodied sound of Southern soul with the smooth sheen of the urban North.
On October 24, 1944, was born Bettye Swann; soul singer who blended the full-bodied sound of Southern soul with the smooth sheen of the urban North.
Best known for her 1967 R&B chart-topper "Make Me Yours," Southern soul chanteuse Bettye Swann was born Betty Jean Champion in Shreveport, Louisiana on October 24, 1944. She first surfaced during the early 1960s as a member of the Fawns before mounting a solo career in 1964 with the Carolyn Franklin-penned "Don't Wait Too Long," the first of a series of Arthur Wright-produced singles for the independent Los Angeles label Money. "The Man That Said No" and "The Heartache Is Gone" followed in 1965, and two years later, Swann returned with the gorgeous "Make Me Yours," which also served as the title for her first full-length LP. 1967 saw the release of three more Money singles -- "Fall in Love With Me," "Don't Look Back," and "I Think I'm Falling in Love" -- while the next year heralded a leap to major label Capitol for "My Heart Is Closed for the Season." The follow-up, "Don't Touch Me," was the first single released from Swann's second long-player, The Soul View Now; Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me? followed in 1969, highlighted by the minor hit "Little Things Mean a Lot." After a one-off single for Fame, 1971's "I'm Just Living a Lie," Swann landed at Atlantic; her label debut, "Victim of a Foolish Heart," cracked the R&B Top 20 in 1972, and was revived over three decades later by blue-eyed soul upstart Joss Stone. Her next Atlantic effort, "I'd Rather Go Blind," was notable in large part for its B-side, a reading of Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again," that proved Swann a superb interpreter of country-soul -- 1973's "Yours Until Tomorrow" was backed by another Nashville cover, this time Tammy Wynette's "Til I Get It Right." In 1974, she made a return to the lower rungs of the Billboard Hot 100 with "The Boy Next Door" -- the flip side, "Kiss My Love Goodbye," found Swann operating firmly in Philly soul territory, its slick, urbane production courtesy of the Young Professionals team of LeBaron Taylor, Phil Hurtt, and Tony Bell. With 1975's "All the Way In or All the Way Out" she again enjoyed minor chart success, but subsequent recording sessions are undocumented, and Swann eventually faded from sight.
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