b. Barbara Ann Lewis, 9th February 1943, Salem, near Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.
Barbara Lewis was born in Michigan.
She attended high school at Lyon, Michigan, where she was the only African-American student.
By the age of 9 years old, she was writing her own material, later hooking up with the record producer, Ollie McLaughlin (who also participated in the careers of Del Shannon, the Capitols ('Cool Jerk'), and Deon Jackson).
Ollie was a deejay at WHRV Radio in Michigan.
Karen was one of four labels owned by the man, (other three were Moira, Carla and Ruth).
All four labels were named after his daughters with the exception of the Ruth imprint.
my heart went do dat da - 1962 / hello stranger - 1963
Barbara released her first single in 1961, for the local Karen imprint, entitled 'My Heart Went Do Dat Da' b/w 'The Longest Night Of The Year' (a label which also featured Bettye LaVette).
The single was a local hit, which was subsequently re-released on the Atlantic label the following year, after a label switch (Barbara, later recording 17 singles for the label).
hello stranger - 1963 / snap your fingers - 1964
She stayed with Atlantic for the next six years, releasing her debut album 'Hello Stranger' in 1963, the single of the same title charting at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Dells made an appearance on the album, contributing background vocals in a tiny recording studio, with the recording made on 2 microphones with all five group members, along with Barbara.
She wrote all of the songs on her debut, which were followed by several singles, including 'Straighten Up Your Heart (which reached number 43), 'Someday We're Gonna Love Again' (later covered by the U.K. group The Searchers), and her original version of 'Puppy Love' (which reached number 38).
He also produced the followup 'Make Me Your Baby' (charting at number 11) and her final Top 40 hit 'Make Me Belong to You' (which reached number 28 in 1966), (penned by Chip Taylor and Billy Vera.
baby i'm yours - 1965 / it's magic - 1966
Her albums included 'Snap Your Fingers' (1964), 'Baby I'm Yours' (1965), 'It's Magic' (1966), 'Working On A Groovy Thing' (1968) and 'The Many Grooves Of Barbara Lewis' (1970).
working on a groovy thing - 1968 / the many moods of barbara lewis - 1970
Her final album saw a label switch to Enterprise Records (a subsidiary of Stax Records), where she released three singles, 'Just The Way You Are Today' b/w 'You Made Me A Woman' (1969), 'Ask The Lonely' b/w 'Why Did It Take You So Long' (1970) and 'That’s The Way I Like It' b/w 'Anyway' (1970).
These releases were followed by a single called 'Rock and Roll Lullaby' b/w 'Im So Thankful', in 1972, for the Reprise label.
Although Barbara effectively wound up her recording career at this time, her music continued her success through various versions of her songs recorded by other artists.
'Hello Stranger' was recorded by the likes of Carrie Lucas (from her 1985 album 'Horsin' Around'), Yvonne Elliman (in 1977) and Queen Latifah in 2004.
'Baby I'm Yours' was also covered by, country singer, Jody Miller and Debby Boone.
Dusty Springfield also recorded Barbara's 1966 song, 'Don’t Forget About Me'.
'Make Me Your Baby' became a Disco hit in 1975, covered by the singer Suzanne Stevens, 'Baby I'm Yours' was covered by the Arctic Monkeys, a song which also featured Barbara's own version in the movie vehicle 'The Bridges Of Madison County'.
'Baby I'm Yours' was also covered by the U.K. singers Cilla Black, Petula Clark, The Paramounts, Billy Preston, Maureen McGovern and Peter & Gordon.
In 1999, Barbara was awarded the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.
In the new millennium, much of the appreciation for Barbara's records comes from the Californian Beach Music Scene, which continue to be hugely popular.
She is still performing to this date.
Hello Stranger (Atlantic Records 1963)
Snap Your Fingers (Atlantic Records 1964)
Baby I'm Yours (Atlantic Records 1965)
It's Magic (Atlantic Records 1966)
Workin' On A Groovy Thing (Atlantic Records 1968)
The Many Grooves Of Barbara Lewis (Enterprise Records 1970)