Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Willie Mitchell: Soul Serenade

For “Wordless Wednesday,” we head to Memphis, Tennessee where Willie Mitchell recorded for the famed Hi Records label. Hi Records started in 1957, but by the time Mitchell had signed to the fledgling label it was beginning to transform into an R&B legend. Hi’s best known artist was Al Green and his recordings gave cross-town rival Stax Records a run for the money.

Unfortunately, Hi was never a powerhouse label; however, that didn’t stop them from making inroads in the R&B genre. One of their artists who had a modicum of success was Willie Mitchell. Although he had nine singles that charted on the Hot 100, only two of those made it to the Top 40 section of the chart.

Mitchell’s best known release was a remake of King Curtis’ “Soul Serenade.” It was released in 1968 – four years after Curtis’ original was released.  “Soul Serenade” was written by songwriter/producer Luther Dixon and King Curtis, who is credited under his real name of Curtis Ousley. Mitchell’s remake was his biggest selling single and it peaked at #23 on the Hot 100 and #10 on the R&B chart. Although Curtis’ original was released by Capitol, a larger label, it only peaked at #51.

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