Mon. Nov. 29, 2021

Gwen McCrae – Keep The Fire Burning

Most Wanted! Gwen McCrae – Keep The Fire Burning (Atlantic)

“Keep the fire burning, keep it burnin’ hot!” And God knows how this American artist had a firing temper. As a matter of fact, it’s something one could instantly feel in her unique singin’ style. Able to get us under cloud nine on emotional gems such as ‘90% Of Me Is You’. As to get us into a trance the way she did on the blowing ‘Keep The Fire Burning’.

From its very first note, even more than 35 years after, you know you’re in front of a one of a kind piece of music. From McCrae‘s performance sounding like an irresistible invitation. To Webster Lewis‘s production work with stellar strings over a firing bassline courtesy of Nate Watts. Not to mention James Gadson, Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Stephanie Spruill and Michael Wycoff in the backing vocals.

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Pensacola, FL-born Gwen Mosley first started singing along with her former husband, George McCrae in the 60’s. There she got brought to the attention of label manager Henry Stone (TK Records) by Betty Wright (born the same day as her). From then, she would drop a series of jams contributing to her recognition along with time. From her cover version of Bobby Bland‘s ‘Lead Me On’, to ‘Rockin’ Chair’. Not to mention the seminal ‘Rock Your Baby’ with her husband. And how could we ever forget the smooth ‘90% Of Me Is You’ back in 1974? If not the firing Betty Wright produced ‘All This Love That I’m Givin” in 1979. A cut which eventually resurfaced 11 years after on UK label Outer Rhythm.

She relocated to New Jersey after TK Records collapsed and signed a record deal with Atlantic. She then scored her biggest (Disco/Funk) successes with ‘Funky Sensation’. A cut produced by Kenton Nix from her 1981 released self-titled debut album. The uplifting ‘Keep The Fire Burning’ coming up the year after. Written by Wille Hutch and produced by Webster Lewis. A cut which Glasgow-based producer Graeme Clarke revamped in an even more energetic way 28 years after under his The Revenge guise. Eventually turning its title into ‘Keep This Fire Burning’.

Gwen McCrae has released a total of 12 albums from 1974 to 2006, including a live and a TK Records Best Of. In addition to this, she eventually shared the bill with Ferry Ultra back in 2010 on ‘Let Me Do My Thang’. A cut which resurfaced 5 years later with remixing work courtesy of Opolopo.

On a sad June 02, 2012, back from a live performance, Gwen had a stroke in her hotel room in England. This resulting in a paralysis on the left side of her body and her inability to walk.

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