The locals still proudly
declare that Johnnie Mae Matthews once lived in these
premises on Carter. She is well known throughout the city.
She is credited with
discovering the Distants (Temptations). The boys were
walking past the house one day when they heard Johnnie Mae
playing the piano. They began singing on the street outside.
Johnnie Mae came out to the porch and told them she liked
what she heard and the rest is history. She
released their first recording 'Come on' on Northern3732.
prove the story, I presented this picture to former
Distant, Arthur Walton. Without any prompting from myself
Arthur immediately said 'that's Carter, that's where Johnnie
Mae lived'. He then pointed to the window at the bottom
right of the building and confirmed that was where they
stood all these years ago.
The Northern label was only
the first of several labels to hit the streets under Johnnie
Mae's ownership and others included Reel, Audrey, Art,
Big Hit and JAM.
Issues on Big Hit, JAM and
Art became popular on the Northern Soul scene.
had the pleasure of meeting Johnnie Mae this year at her
home. She put on an old tape of her early recordings and
provided an impromptu performance. Now in her mid-sixties,
this lady still has an amazing voice.
Mae is indisputably one of the pioneers of Detroit soul.
thanks to David Meikle.