Northern Record Company

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.

To 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.

I 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.

Johnnie Mae is indisputably one of the pioneers of Detroit soul.

Notes thanks to David Meikle.



This website is dedicated to Detroit, Soul Music, 45 RPM, Northern Soul and the great Motown era of Detroit Musics. It covers Golden World, Tamla, Wheelsville, Robert West, Darrell Banks, Johnnie Mae Matthews, Rose Battiste, Tera Shirma, Fred Bridges, Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Edwin Starr, Funk Brothers, Dennis Coffey, Bob Babbitt, James Jamerson, Twisted Wheel, Wiggan Casino and many more Detroit Souls topics.