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The Apollas

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If Loma Records was Warner Bros.' attempt to emulate Motown Records, then the Apollas were intended as Loma's answer to the Supremes. The Apollas was a trio consisting of Billie Barnum, Ella Jamerson, and Leola Jiles, who got together in 1965 and were signed that fall to the short-lived Warner Bros. soul subsidiary Loma Records. They debuted in October 1965 with a scorching Motown-style rocker, "You're Absolutely Right," which attracted some attention from serious listeners but never brushed the charts. The trio tried hard for another three years, first at Loma and then on Warner Bros. proper, generating a total of eight singles, including "Pretty Red Balloons" and the soaring "Mr. Creator," and even covering a Don and Phil Everly-authored ballad entitled "Who Would Want Me Now," without ever seeing a chart placement. By 1968, they were history, right along with Warner Bros.' infatuation with soul music (Loma was deactivated that year). Rather sadly, except for how they're remembered by posterity, the Apollas were later discovered and embraced by England's rabid Northern soul community, which turned them into stars in that corner of music long after they'd split up. In particular, "Mr. Creator," "You're Absolutely Right," "All Sold Out," and "Lock Me in Your Heart" are highly prized among their singles and there was probably enough output there -- assuming that it could be licensed -- for a decent CD devoted to the trio. Barnum has also sung backup for numerous artists, including Van Dyke Parks, Lionel Richie, Teddy Pendergrass, and Taj Mahal; Jamerson and Jiles have also sung as backup vocalists to various artists. ~ Bruce Eder