soulful voice packed a mighty punch pulled from a
church-going childhood spent singing gospel. She established
herself as Mike's number-one female artist after leading The
Paragons on their great Exit 45 and subsequently recorded
one super-sounding Tuba single plus five D-Town discs.
Brought up on
Lawton - conveniently close to the Pig Pen - Dee told me how
her career kicked off:
"I put The
Paragons together. My brother (Albert Harrell) could sing
and we were practicing around the house, and we just formed
a group. My mother lived around the corner from Mike's
studio and people were telling him that there was a girl in
the neighborhood who could really sing. And people were
telling me there was a recording studio in the neighborhood,
so I walked around there one day. That was it!
but the group's only 45, was cut in the Pig Pen in early
'63. "My Time Is Important To Me" sounds like an improved
version of The Marvelettes' 1961 hit, "Please Mr. Postman,"
and Dee also shines on the slow flip, "Pretty Words." Willie
Garrett, Mike and Dave Hamilton wrote both sides and it's
criminal the double-sider wasn't a hit.
Paragons split up she became a solo artist and explained how
Mike christened her Dee and coined D-Town:
"When I first
went over there it was just MAH'S, and when we decided that
we were going to record some music - he was really crazy
about my voice and all that - he looked at me and said,
'Let's call it D-Town!' He was also trying to figure out
what to call me, because my name is Doris Edwards, and he
looked at me and said, "Let's just call you D... Dee Edwards!"
Her first tune,
the lilting "You Say You Love Me," came out on the local
Tuba label - where Pete Hall worked - in August 1963, and
its catchy B-side, "Tired Of Staying Home," was later
re-released on the back a D-Town disc.
pop-bottle-featuring, cha-cha-esque tune, "Too Careless With
My Love," was the third release on D-Town and sold well in
Detroit. "Oh What a Party" followed in 1964 and has a more
typical sixties' sound to it: handclaps accentuating a
strong beat and an abundant use of the noun baby.
Is Where You Find It" soon followed and in the spring of '65
"His Majesty My Love" came out. Dee's most popular 45, "All
The Way Home," was released in '66 and this raunchy song
encapsulates and defines that year's inimitable groove with
its powerful beat, prominent bass and oomphing horns that
must have rattled the Pig Pen's windows.
Gracie Hanks had
told me that she used to take care of Dee's wardrobe and escort
her to various gigs to make sure the neophyte was safe. But
having heard tales of Mike's gun-toting brand of
artist-management I asked Dee how she got along with the
president of the company: "He wanted to come off as a big
boss; in control, but with me, I didn't have a problem with
"All The Way
Home" was her last 45 with Mike as the label went the
way of many others a few months later.
A couple years
passed before she recorded two songs that Sonny Sanders
produced for Pete Hall's Premium Stuff label: "I'll Shed No
Tears" - a nice ballad - plus a funky-dancer, "A Girl Can't
Go By What She Hears."
deserved a promotional fanfare but Pete and The Queen
seemingly failed to roll out the appropriate red carpet and
consequently the record never made it. Perhaps "Tears" was
intended as the B-side, but each song was released
individually backed with the instrumental. This was at the
end of 1968 and was a sign that Pete was trying to save cash
or didn't have enough material to record. Or both. Either
way, the label only had one more record after Dee's two
before Pete threw the towel in.
had got married to arranger Floyd Jones and they
collaborated on some songs that Guido Marasco released on
his GM and Bumpshop labels in 1970.
"Say It Again
With Feeling" was a local success and is another example of
a potential big hit subject to proper promotion and
distribution. But Floyd told me that a golden opportunity
wasn't snapped and the record faded away.
unsuccessful RCA single in 1972, Floyd followed up with a
well produced song that was released on the local De-To
label - "I Can Deal With That" - that Dee cut in a room
above (label owner) Dr Kyle's surgery on Grand River Avenue.
It's a smooth, mid-tempo groover that was released with and
without strings and both versions are now collectable 70's
dancers. Back then they frustratingly flopped and the song -
about turning a blind eye to her lover's infidelity - was
the last of Dee's Detroit recording sessions.
At this point
the city's heyday had long gone and the couple went to New
York, finally enjoying Billboard chart action with a Disco
hit released on Cotillion in 1979: "Don't Sit Down."
Notes thanks to Graham
image must not be
reproduced, used or copied photograph
credits at end of webisode