When Tina Turner sang a song, it stayed sung. The Tennessee-born singer, who has died aged 83, brought the tradition of blues and gospel shouters into the loudly amplified world of rock ’n’ soul in the 1960s. Her vocal style pushed things to the limits, a sublime but risky place where words flirted with the chaos of pure sound. Witness the electrifying yowl with which she takes possession of the word “proud” in one of her best-known songs, “Proud Mary”.
Few have matched her estimated record sales of 100mn, or her assertiveness behind a microphone. But what was being asserted? Born in 1939, Turner was raised in the American South during the Jim Crow era, the daughter of black sharecroppers. However, she didn’t become a leading voice in the civil rights movement like her contemporary Aretha Franklin. Her forthrightness had a more fiercely compacted quality. It was an expression of drive, the determination to be heard whatever the obstacle.
“You take away the bondage, the problems, the hang-ups, the egos, and I can fly,” she told the LA Times in 1984. “I can laugh, I can dance, I can sing, and I don’t grow tired. Freedom. That’s my motivation.”
For the white rock musicians who copied her, freedom was a rhetorical concept. For Turner, it had an urgent practical meaning. Not only did she grow up in a southern state at a time of legalised racism, but she also entered a branch of the music business in which young female singers were choreographed and controlled by men.
Brought up as Anna Mae Bullock, she was given the stage name Tina by the R&B bandleader Ike Turner, who recruited her after hearing her sing in a St Louis nightclub in 1957. By the time they married in 1962, she had moved from back-up to lead vocalist. Ike styled her as an eroticised primitive, choosing “Tina” to rhyme with comic book heroine Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. “Ike would always have me screaming and shouting on his songs — selling them,” she said in her memoir, I, Tina.
Phil Spector was the first producer to note the quality of her singing. “He told me I had an extremely unusual voice, that he had never heard a woman’s voice like mine,” she recalled. He paid $20,000 to sign the Turners to his…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at UK homepage…