Little Esther

Esther Mae Jones (December 23, 1935 - August 7, 1984) who performed as Little Esther and as Esther Phillips, was an American singer; she performed in the pop, country, jazz, and rhythm and blues fields, including soul music. Born in Galveston, Texas, she entered an amateur contest in 1949 at Johnny Otis's Barrelhouse Club in Los Angeles. Otis was so impressed that he recorded her for Modern Records and added her, billed as Little Esther, to his travelling revue, the California Rhythm and Blues Caravan. Her first hit record was "Double Crossin' Blues," recorded in 1950 for Savoy Records. ...show more

Esther Mae Jones (December 23, 1935 - August 7, 1984) who performed as Little Esther and as Esther Phillips, was an American singer; she performed in the pop, country, jazz, and rhythm and blues fields, including soul music. Born in Galveston, Texas, she entered an amateur contest in 1949 at Johnny Otis's Barrelhouse Club in Los Angeles. Otis was so impressed that he recorded her for Modern Records and added her, billed as Little Esther, to his travelling revue, the California Rhythm and Blues Caravan. Her first hit record was "Double Crossin' Blues," recorded in 1950 for Savoy Records.

After several hit records with Savoy, including "Mistrustin' Blues," "Misery," "Cupid Boogie," "Wedding Boogie," "Far Away Christmas Blues," and "Deceivin' Blues", she left the company in 1951 after a dispute over royalties. She later left Otis's revue. She had no further hits until 1962, after being re-discovered by Kenny Rogers. After signing with Rogers' brother's record label, Lenox Records, she took the stage name Esther Phillips, and had a pop, country, and R & B hit with "Release Me" (successfully covered in 1967 by Engelbert Humperdinck).

Moving to Atlantic Records after Lenox failed, she recorded jazzier material and came to the attention of The Beatles, who brought her to the United Kingdom to perform in her own television special. Despite critical success, she had no more hits until she signed with Kudu Records in 1971. Months later, in 1972, Phillips released her first, most daring and possibly finest recording effort for Kudu, "From a Whisper to a Scream." It was a risky release for Kudu, but it paid off. Phillips' own personal struggle with heroin dependency lent special poignance and depth to her heart-wrenching, street-wise rendition of Gil Scott-Heron's "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," in which a defeated junkie muses, "Home is where the hatred is. ...show less

Playlists Containing Tracks by Little Esther

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