Barbara Lynn on stage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, 2008
|Birth name||Barbara Lynn Ozen|
|Born||January 16, 1942|
|Origin||Beaumont, Texas, United States|
|Genres||Rhythm and blues, electric blues|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, guitarist, songwriter|
|Labels||Jamie, Tribe, Atlantic, Jetstream, Ichiban, Bullseye Blues, I.T.P., Antone's, Dialtone|
Barbara Lynn (born Barbara Lynn Ozen, later Barbara Lynn Cumby, January 16, 1942) is an American rhythm and blues and electric blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. She is best known for her R&B chart-topping hit, "You'll Lose a Good Thing" (1962). In 2018, Lynn received the National Heritage Fellowship.
Life and career
She was born in Beaumont, Texas, and attended Hebert High School. She played piano as a child, but switched to guitar, which she plays left-handed. Inspired by blues artists Guitar Slim and Jimmy Reed, and pop acts Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee, and winning several local talent shows, she created an all-female band, Bobbie Lynn and Her Idols.
She began performing in local clubs in Texas. Singer Joe Barry saw her and introduced Lynn to producer Huey P. Meaux, who ran SugarHill Recording Studios and several record labels in New Orleans. Her first single, "You'll Lose A Good Thing", co-written by her and Meaux, was recorded at Cosimo Matassa's J&M studio with session musicians including Mac Rebennack (Dr. John). Released by Jamie Records, it was a number 1 US Billboard R&B chart hit and Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1962. The song was later recorded by Aretha Franklin and became a country hit record for Freddy Fender. Reggae artist Mikey Dread also based the melody of his 1989 single "Choose Me" on this song. Lynn also released an album, also titled You'll Lose A Good Thing, which featured ten of her compositions.
Unusually for the time, Lynn was a female African American singer who both wrote most of her own songs and played a lead instrument. Soon Lynn was touring with such soul musicians as Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown, Al Green, Carla Thomas, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, the Temptations, and B.B. King. She appeared at the Apollo Theater, twice on American Bandstand. In 1965, she had her song, "Oh Baby (We've Got A Good Thing Goin')" (1964) covered by the Rolling Stones on their album The Rolling Stones Now! in America and Out Of Our Heads in the UK. The song was also recorded by Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, with Beverly Skeete lead singing. Lynn continued to record for the Jamie label until 1966 and had several more minor hits.
In 1966 she signed to Meaux's Tribe label, and recorded "You Left the Water Running," which was covered by Otis Redding among others. She signed for Atlantic the following year, and recorded another album, Here Is Barbara Lynn, in 1968. She married for the first time, at age 28, in 1970 and had three children. This, together with dissatisfaction with poor promotion by the record company, contributed to her decision to largely retire from the music business for most of the 1970s and 1980s. However, while living in Los Angeles, she occasionally appeared at local clubs, and released several singles on Jetstream and other small labels.
In 1984 she toured Japan, and recorded a live album, You Don't Have to Go, which was released later in the US. She resumed her recording career after her husband's death, and returned to Beaumont, Texas, where her mother lived. She also undertook further international tours, to Europe and elsewhere. In 1994, she recorded her first studio album for over twenty years, So Good, and released several more albums for various labels in later years.
She continues to reside in Beaumont, and was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. In 2002, electronic musician Moby sampled Lynn's "I'm A Good Woman" on his album 18.
|1962||"You'll Lose a Good Thing"||8||1|
|"Second Fiddle Girl"||63||-|
|"You're Gonna Need Me"||65||13|
|1963||"Don't Be Cruel"||93||-|
|"To Love or Not to Love"||135||-|
|"(I Cried at) Laura's Wedding"||68||-|
|1964||"Oh! Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')"||69||19|
|"Don't Spread It Around"||93||35|
|1965||"It's Better to Have It"||95||26|
|1966||"I'm a Good Woman"||129||-|
|"You Left the Water Running"||110||42|
|1968||"This Is the Thanks I Get"||65||39|
|1971||"(Until Then) I'll Suffer"||-||31|
- 1963 You'll Lose a Good Thing (Jamie)
- 1964 Sister of Soul (Jamie)
- 1968 Here Is Barbara Lynn (Atlantic)
- 1988 You Don't Have to Go (Ichiban)
- 1993 So Good (Bullseye Blues)
- 1996 Until Then I'll Suffer (I.T.P.)
- 2000 Hot Night Tonight (Antone's)
- 2004 Blues & Soul Situation (Dialtone)
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- "Biography by Steve Huey". AllMusic. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- "National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2018 National Heritage Fellows". National Endowment for the Arts. 20 June 2018.
- Amelia Feathers, An R&B comeback, more than three decades in the making, Blues Music Now, 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2013
- Aswell, Tom (23 September 2010). Louisiana Rocks!. ISBN 9781455607839. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Best Sellers - Mikey Dread - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
- Discography at Soulful Kinda Music. Retrieved 24 January 2013
- Tommy Mann Jr., Musicians gather to celebrate local R&B legend, The Orange Leader, January 14, 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2013
- "Here Are 6 Must-See Music Films at Hot Docs". Exclaim!, April 19, 2016.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 429. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B Singles: 1942-1995. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
- Billboard did not publish an R&B chart between November 1963 and January 1965
- John Broven, South to Louisiana: Music of the Cajun Bayous (Gretna, La.: Pelican Press, 1983).
- Shane K. Bernard, Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996).
- Complete discography
- Alan B. Govenar, Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, containing extracts from 1987 interview with Barbara Lynn