In Black America Podcast: Legendary Blues Vocalist and Minister Dr. Mable John
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Mable John. One of the true living legends in R&B music today, singer, songwriter, producer, actress, and author Mable John was the first female artist signed to Barry Gordy’s Tamla label, which soon changed its name to Motown. After recording with Motown for several years until the label decided she was too “bluesy” for the direction in which they were headed, she joined Stax Records in 1966 and almost instantly recorded the most successful single of her career, “Your Good Thing (Is About to End),” which she co-wrote.
After her two-year stint at Stax, John joined Ray Charles’ backup singers, The Raelettes, as director of the group and lead singer. She remained with Charles for more than twelve years before leaving in 1976; during that time she co-wrote fifty-two songs with him. She then devoted her life to Christianity and in 1986 founded her own nonprofit organization, Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles, which has fed and clothed the needy in that city ever since. She received her Doctrine of Divinity from Crenshaw Christian Center in 1993.
“Dr. John,” who was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994, divides her time today between feeding and clothing thousands of L.A. residents each year and her ongoing music and writing career. Her first novel, Sanctified Blues, was in June 2006, followed by her second, Stay Out of the Kitchen, in June 2007. She performed during the Stax 50th Anniversary Concerts in Memphis and Los Angeles in June and July 2007, and filmed a John Sayles’ movie with Danny Glover during the same time period, Honey Dripper, in which she plays a nightclub singer.