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Bobby Powell

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Blind pianist/singer Bobby Powell -- born in Baton Rouge in 1941 -- started out as a gospel singer in the 1950s. By the outset of the 1960s, however, he'd switched to singing R&B and was signed to Whit Records, where he succeeded right out of the box with "What Are You Trying to Do to Me" b/w "Red Sails in the Sunset" -- the latter didn't chart nationally but was good and popular enough locally to get picked up by Jewel Records for national distribution. He did even better with his second single, a version of "C.C. Rider" b/w "That Little Girl of Mine," which topped the national R&B charts in 1965. Powell's third record, "Do Something for Yourself" b/w "It's Getting Late in the Evening," made it to number 21 on the charts the following year, and in 1967 he once again charted a single with "I'm Gonna Leave You." That marked the end of Powell's string of successes, however, although he still released two singles a year, brushed the charts once more at the end of the decade, and had a number 14 hit in 1974 with "The Bells." During this same period, Powell also cut an LP for Excello and later issued a handful of more singles. Finally, in the 1980s, he gave up R&B and soul music and returned to where he started out, singing gospel music. In 2002, WestSide Records released a compilation of Powell's Whit and Jewel singles. ~ Bruce Eder

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1941 in Baton Rouge, LA

Years Active:

'60s, '70s