Marva Whitney, a fiery voiced funk singer who toured and collaborated with James Brown -- along the way earning the title "Soul Sister #1" -- died on Saturday at age 68, according to a Facebook page dedicated to her. "She left us with a legacy that will shine forever," the message reads.
A cause of death is not immediately known, however it is being reported that Whitney died from complications of pneumonia.
Whitney is best known for her version of "It's My Thing," which cracked the Hot 100 in 1969, and for the widely sampled track "Unwind Yourself," which can be heard on songs by The 45 Kings, DJ Kool and Mac Miller, among others.
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Born Marva Ann Manning, the artist began her career performing gospel music in Kansas City but found fame when she reluctantly joined the James Brown Revue in 1967 after turning down singing jobs with Bobby Bland and Little Richard.
"There was nothing here in Kansas City, so I had to make a decision at that age," she said in a 2006 interview on We Funk Radio. "I knew this wasn't what I wanted, because I was still playing for the church. But I made the decision and went to Cincinnati and signed with King Records."
On tour with the Revue, Whitney performed in Vietnam, Europe and North Africa over the next couple of years. Along the way, Whitney cut several "raw funk" songs under Brown's direction, including "Unwind Yourself" and "I'm Tired, I'm Tired, I'm Tired," though none broke through with audiences until "It's My Thing," her take on the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing." The song was a hit on the R&B charts.
During her tenure in the Revue, Whitney was dubbed "Soul Sister #1" to Brown's "Soul Brother #1" title. Other "Original Funky Divas" in Brown's group over the years included Vicki Anderson, who Whitney replaced, and Lyn Collins, who died in 2005.
"I used to be embarrassed being called Soul Sister #1" she said, noting that it took many years to accept that the title "did not mean that I was stepping on Aretha Franklin's toes& because I always counted her as Soul Sister # 1."
She left Brown's Revue in 1969 and headed back to Kansas City. Her recording career continued, though as before, radio and sales of singles like "Daddy Don't Know About Sugar Bear" and "Giving Up on Love" were disappointing. A break from the music business followed and by the late 1980s Whitney returned to performing sporadically with fellow James Brown Revue alumni, in a group called the JB Allstars.
In 2009, Whitney suffered a stroke on stage during a show in Australia, but recovered and performed again 2010.
Hey ya’ll, Axlegrease can’t write.. Check out his earlier reply to my post…. The fool tried to type the word yeah-this is his reply in quotes “yeh, right....learning about crack and crime is not my idea of mind expansion” Forgot to hit the spellcheck button?? J Tell me what does the name Axlegrease mean??? Let me tell you; you drive a truck for your existence-that means livelihood-moron!! Again, you lack the people skills to interact with the smart “white collar” working folks…I bet you don’t own a shirt and tie. All you can do is say nasty and stupid things like the other posts-wiggers etc…If I were you I would invest in a library card and start reading every book in the joint!! Greaseboy, always remember I’m smarter than you…. You can’t stand that!! Lastly, talk about people, ask yourself the following; where was it better to live 10,000 years ago??? I bet you live in a RED state-“TAKERS”-where the median income is $32,000.
Wigger that Axleboy!!
Hey media cynic, It just dawned on me, you might want to watch the movie THE COMMITMENTS.. They knew and understood Black music [back then “soul musicians”] back in the 1960’s!! Can you say Beatles, Rod Stewart, The Doors, Pat Boone copied Lil Richard’s song “Tooty Frooty” back in the 50’s.. As your mama!! The biggest thief was elvis pressley!!! Black artist never receive any royalties from the music they created in most cases…. One more nugget for you, when the beattles were getting started in the Americas in the 60’s-they had Lil Richard hang out with beatlles… where do you think the “WOOW” came from at the end on the beattles song “she loves you, yeah, yeah??? Again, I ask that you use your outdated computer and expand your knowledge…..
In full disclosure, I love some Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Gino Vannelli, Rare Earth, David Sanborn and far many more for you to even comprehend.. J