Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I CAN'T DO MY THING
Barbara Acklin (February 28, 1944 - November 27, 1998) was a soul singer of the 1960s and 1970s. Her biggest hit was "Love Makes a Woman" in 1968 which reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Born Barbara Jean Acklin, she was an only child of Herman and Hazel Acklin. She began singing in church and then as a teenager in nightclubs while attending Dunbar Vocational High school in Chicago. Upon graduation, she was hired as a secretary for a local record label by her cousin, saxophonist and producer Monk Higgins. Her first release was under the name Barbara Allen on his Special Agent label. Later, Higgins used Acklin as a background singer on his Chess Records sessions with artists like Etta James and Fontella Bass.
In 1966, Acklin began working as a receptionist for record producer Carl Davis at Brunswick Records in Chicago. She persistently asked Davis to record her. Davis finally agreed but encouraged her to keep writing songs. Cornering Brunswick star Jackie Wilson, Acklin had him listen to a tune that she co-wrote with David Scott (formerly of The Exciters Band and later to join the Chi-Lites for a time). Wilson liked it and passed it on to Davis. Released in September 1966, "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)" went to number 5 R&B and number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song helped to re-launch Wilson's career and, returning the favor, he helped Acklin to secure a recording contract with Brunswick.
Her 1971 LP I Did It features the classic track "I Can't Do My Thing," which perfectly captures both the funky Chisoul sound and the magic of Acklin's voice.