Song Of The Day 6/24/2014: Brenda Holloway - "You've Made Me So Very Happy"

Black Music Month/Motown Week: I used to mix up former Motown singer Brenda Holloway up with Brenda Payton, the leader of the Philadelphia R&B group Brenda & the Tabulations. Both of them are among my favorite woefully overlooked soul singers of the '60s and '70s. Holloway, from Watts in Los Angeles, was a brisk 17 when she got signed to Motown by Berry Gordy. At one point she was being at least passively groomed for breakout stardom (she even opened for the Beatles in '65), but for various reasons that all seem to be a combination of bad timing and someone's hubris, it never happened.

Holloway broke into songwriting after Motown songwriter Eddie Holland basically dared her to write a song. Well, as Holloway tells it, "Eddie Holland would joke with me and say, 'You can't write, just sing, just sing these lyrics, don't even try to write.'" So in response she wrote "You've Made Me So Very Happy" with her younger sister Patrice and Frank Wilson. And of course Berry got partial songwriting credit, because he's Berry Gordy and what is your point-by-point plan for doing a damn thing about it? The song was a modest Top 40 hit for Brenda, but really starting churning out publishing royalties when nebulous jazz-rock gestalt Blood, Sweat & Tears thrust it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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