Jim Gilstrap on Apple Music

Jim Gilstrap

Prolific session singer Jim Gilstrap also recorded two albums of his own during the '70s, which blended his smooth soul crooning inclinations with subtly disco-tinged production. Gilstrap was born in Pittsburgh, TX, and grew up listening to blues and R&B, idolizing Bobby "Blue" Bland when he was younger. His family later moved to California, and after serving in the Vietnam War, Gilstrap set about pursuing a career in music. He successfully auditioned to join the Doodletown Pipers as a vocalist in the late '60s, and soon moved on to a more soulful unit called the Cultures, who offered background support to established pop and soul artists. From there, Gilstrap wound up in Stevie Wonder's backing aggregation Wonderlove, singing on Wonder classics like Talking Book and Innervisions. On his own, Gilstrap recorded some Johnny Mathis-like sides for Bell Records that were never released, but subsequently hooked up with Chelsea Records in 1975. His recording of the Kenny Nolan-penned "Swing Your Daddy" (issued on the label's Roxbury subsidiary) went Top Ten on the R&B charts that year, and was also a Top Five pop hit in the U.K. Gilstrap's solo debut, also titled Swing Your Daddy, spun off two more singles in "House of Strangers" and "Put Out the Fire." The follow-up LP Love Talk appeared in 1977, but despite some minor success with the title track and "Move Me," it failed to produce another hit on the level of "Swing Your Daddy." Gilstrap subsequently resumed his primary career as a session vocalist, performing with countless pop and R&B superstars over the next several decades. By the '80s and '90s, Gilstrap was doing more high-profile gigs as a guest vocalist on smooth jazz albums. ~ Steve Huey

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