An instrument that you can play right up until they get to adulthood? The bassist, for example? I used to call him a saxophonist from birth.
The saxophonist I was referring to was Roberta Farr, the singer of “The Temptations,” who is one of the longest serving women’s singers in the US. She is still making music all these years later, but she is not, as one might expect, a saxophonist by training, or even a proficient one at all.
Her early music was a blend of jazz, pop, funk and r&b (she’s an African American singer who also used to be a dancer and a dancer) before she found herself writing songs for the “Bassist’s Cottage” record she was making as a solo artist. This record was signed by a major label — Mercury — a label that had in fact been started with funds supplied by her own money and in the end was more of a cash cow than a success. She recorded three sides for the LP, which were never issued — and that’s the way it should be.
Then came the record of her life, “The Temptations.”
I was in the car listening to her solo, so I don’t know who the drummer was. At the time, I was working in a club that had four drums, and I said, “What do you call them?” They were called “Dylan” drums, and she said, “Well, they’re a little too big, that’s all.” Her voice has been called as “hairy” a lot of times, and I just said that was not it at all. So it became me trying to use her name on records to create a bit of a buzz…
But the album got so big and such a hit that then she went back and recorded “Donna Summer.” That record was a phenomenal success, so a lot of people in the music business started calling her. It must have been strange for her to be referred to as an instrument player, a singer and a solo singer all in one name.
This is something the jazz players have all done, to use the label: a name and a sound that can be easily translated from one instrument to another. I’ve heard a few people call her the blues clarinetist, because that’s what she sounded like as a clarinetist. There are plenty of jazz blues players who used to play those clarinets
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