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Private Numbers

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Album Review

Judy Clay has ten of the 18 tracks on this CD, the remainder belonging to Veda Brown, an even more obscure late-period Stax female soul belter. Clay's work for the label was gutsier in general than the sides she waxed during the same time for Atlantic, although only one of them made any chart impact, "Private Number" (a duet with William Bell). Including six solo turns and four duets with Bell, the material compiled here (all from 1968-69) is solid, but doesn't catch fire that often. The best cuts are the just-a-bit-bluesy "Private Number," the pop-inflected deep soul ballad "It's Me" (penned by Isaac Hayes and David Porter), and a far more overlooked gem, "Children, Don't Get Weary," a minor-keyed, sparsely produced gospel-soul hybrid. On the latter track, Clay lets loose to a greater degree than she ever had before, or would ever do again.


Born: 12 September 1938 in St. Paul, NC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although her deep, potent voice never translated to commercial success, Judy Clay deserves more than footnote status in the annals of Southern soul. The impact of her collaboration with Billy Vera as the first interracial male/female duo to record for a major label should also not be understated. Born Judy Guions in St. Paul, North Carolina on September 12, 1938, she began singing in church as a small child. As a teen, she relocated to Harlem and continued her choir activities there. At 13, Clay...
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