The Ponderosa Stomp Festival is back October 3-5th in New Orleans, with a dizzying array of artists, from girl singers to rock n’ roll to soul, garage and swamp shouters. Three of the greatest female vocalists of the Girl Group genre represent this year, Justine “Baby” Washington, Chris Clark and Maxine Brown. Performing during the years in which racial discrimination was prevalent, travel was difficult (and performers had to present an image of high glamour at all times) would grind down any artist, but these women gained strength and resilience, personally and professionally.
Watch Where the Girls Are, the newly released mini-documentary celebrating the ladies:
Justine “Baby” Washington’s career began in the late 50s, as a member of the vocal groups The Hearts and The Jaynetts. She forged her way onto the R&B charts in the 50’s and 60’s with hits like, “That’s How Heartaches Are Made,” “The Time,” “No One Cares” and “Only Those In Love.” Washington scored another chart hit in the ‘70s on a duet with Don Gardner, a cover of The Marvelette’s “Forever.” Dusty Springfield acknowledged Washington as her favorite singer, recording “I Can’t Wait to See My Baby’s Face.”
Maxine Brown’s singing career began in New York with gospel groups called the Angelairs and the Royaltones. She signed to Nomar in 1960 and scored her first hit with the self-penned ballad “All in My Mind.” A few years later, she hit the pop charts with the Carole King/Gerry Goffin songs “Oh No, Not My Baby” and “It’s Gonna Be Alright.” Her songwriting collaborations with Chuck Jackson resulted in hits records for Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell. A powerhouse vocalist, Brown’s performance on the Ponderosa Stomp/Lincoln Center Girl Group extravaganza in 2011 blew audiences away, earning her a spot at the New Orleans festival.
Chris Clark signed to Motown in the mid-sixties and cut Northern soul classics “Do Right Baby Do Right,” “Love’s Gone Bad” and “I Want to Go Back There Again” for their subsidiary VIP. A native Californian with platinum blond hair and blue eyes, Clark was the label’s first Caucasian star, and she was known in England as the “White Negress.” Her dance floor scorcher “Loves Gone Bad” hit the pop and R&B charts in 1966, and remains a classic in the genre. Clark was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as co-writer for the 1972 Diana Ross flick Lady Sings the Blues, and she became an executive for Motown Productions’ film and television division in Los Angeles.
Baby Washington, Maxine Brown and Chris Clark are inspiring; they embody the pioneer spirit the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation champions.
For press stories on the Ponderosa Stomp from LA Times, New York Times and others visit: http://www.ponderosastomp.com/press.php
For more information on the Stomp, including full line-up for 2013, visit www.ponderosastomp.com