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  Syl Johnson 
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Click below for a Syl Johnson sample: 

Is It Because I'm Black




Blues and soul vocalist Syl Johnson has been recording since the 1950s, earning his reputation as a strong singer with a distinctive tone.   Born Sylvester Thompson on July 1, 1936 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, he started out playing harmonica alongside the likes of Junior Wells and Jimmy Reed before being by James Brown's old comapny, Federal Records,  in 1959.   


Johnson came to national prominence during a stint on Chicago’s Twinight Records, where he produced and performed now classic songs like the break staple “Different Strokes” and the poignant “Is It Because I’m Black.”


In the early 70s, Johnson moved to Hi Records, where his work had a consistent quality that yielded his biggest single, “Take Me To The River,” in 1975.  Other notable records from the Hi period are “We Did It,” “Back For A Taste Of Your Love,” and “Could I Be Falling In Love With You.” 

When Hi closed, he formed Shama Records and had further success with “Brings Out The Blues In Me” and “Ms. Fine Brown Frame.”


Following an extended period of inactivity, he resurfaced with 1994’s Back In The Game, which featured his daughter Syleena Johnson.   He has also recorded with his brother Jimmy Johnson.


Syl Johnson's Deepest Grooves

Dresses Too Short (Twinight, 1968)


Is It Because I'm Black? (Twinight, 1969)


Back For A Taste Of Your Love (Hi, 1973)


Diamond in the Rough (Hi, 1974)


Total Explosion (Hi, 1975)


Uptown Shakedown (Hi, 1979)


Ms. Fine Brown Frame (Shama, 1982)


Back in the Game (Delmark, 1994)


This Time Together (with Syleena Johnson) (Twinight, 1995) 


Bridge to a Legacy (Antone's, 1995)


Talkin' About Chicago (Delmark, 1999)


Hands of Time (Hep Me, 2000)


Two Johnsons Are Better Than One (Evangeline, 2001) 


Straight Up!
(P-Vine, 2004)

 

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