Linda Lewis (born Linda Ann Fredericks, 27 September 1950, West Ham, Essex) is an English vocalist, songwriter and guitarist. Lewis is the oldest of six children, three of whom also had singing careers. She is best known for the singles "Rock-a-Doodle-Doo" (1972), "Sideway Shuffle" (1973), and her version of Rudy Clark's "Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" (1975) albums such as Lark (1972), Not a Little Girl Anymore (1975) and Woman Overboard (1977), and the later Second Nature (1995), which became successful in countries such as Japan. Lewis also provided vocals for others such as David Bowie, Al Kooper, Cat Stevens, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Rick Wakeman, Rod Stewart,Hummingbird, Joan Armatrading and Jamiroquai.
Lewis is a self-taught guitarist and keyboard player, influenced by Harry Nilsson, Billie Holiday and Smokey Robinson, also drawing inspiration from others such as Joni Mitchell. Her music blends folk, funk and soul, a mix of genres that makes Lewis a forerunner to artists such as Des'ree and India.Arie.
At the age of three the future Linda Lewis was sent to stage school and was regularly cast in non-speaking TV and film roles such as A Taste of Honey (1961) and as a screaming fan in the first Beatles film A Hard Day's Night (1964), she also sang to the public for money. Lewis joined The Q Set, a British band who performed Ska and blue beat Jamaican style music
In 1964 she met John Lee Hooker who was performing at a London club and sang "Dancing in the Streets" with him. Hooker introduced her to Ian Samwell who arranged for Don Arden to manage her and she signed to Polydor, to record the single "You Turned My Bitter into Sweet", which is now a collectable Northern Soul record The July 1967 release of "You Turned My Bitter into Sweet" inaugurated the singer's use of Linda Lewis as her professional name: since the Polydor roster featured singer Linda Kendrick the label felt that releases credited to Linda Fredericks might cause counter-productive confusion. Linda Fredericks adopted Lewis as her professional surname in honour of Soul singer Barbara Lewis: eventually both of Linda Lewis's sisters would pursue singing careers as Dee Lewis and Shirley Lewis, and their mother would also assume "Lewis" as her surname.
During 1969 Linda Lewis formed White Rabbit with Junior Marvin, moving onto replace Marsha Hunt in the soul rock band The Ferris Wheel in 1970 and toured Europe with them. She also recorded the album Ferris Wheel (1970) and the single "Can't Stop Now" with them before the band broke up the same year. On 19 September 1970 Lewis appeared at the first Glastonbury Festival (where she jammed with Terry Reid and David Lindley), having been booked by the DJ and concert booker Jeff Dexter. After a chance meeting with Warner Bros. Records executive Ian Ralfini, Lewis signed to Warner Bros. Records imprint label Reprise. Lewis also worked as a session vocalist in this period, which led to her appearance on albums such as Possible Projection of the Future by Al Kooper, David Bowie's Aladdin Sane (1973), Cat Stevens's Catch Bull at Four (1972) and Hummingbird's first album Hummingbird (1975). She then signed to Family's new Warner Brothers distributed "Raft" label.
Her first hit single "Rock-a-Doodle-Doo" reached No. 15 in the UK Singles Chart in the summer of 1973, and it was followed by the album Fathoms Deep, which featured former Jeff Beck group guitarist Bobby Tench. This album established her as one of Britain's most promising young female singer-songwriters and was critically acclaimed, but it did not did have the expected success, probably due to Raft Records becoming insolvent at that time. However, several appearances on the BBC TV show Top of The Pops raised her profile and an extensive world tour with Cat Stevens followed. On her return to the studio, she signed to Arista Records and recorded what would become her breakthrough album Not a Little Girl Anymore (1975), which featured Allen Toussaint and the Tower of Power horn section. A cover of the "The Shoop Shoop Song" was released as a single, under the title of "It's in his Kiss", at the same time as Not a Little Girl Anymore, reaching No. 6 in the UK Album Chart. On 5 July 1975 Lewis opened the Knebworth Festival, being followed by Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, the Steve Miller Band and Pink Floyd. She sings on the Go Too album, released in 1977, with Jess Roden. Three more albums followed over the next few years and on A Tear and a Smile (1983) she sang a duet "Why Can't I Be The Other Woman", with Luther Vandross. In 1986 and 1987 she recorded with her sisters Dee and Shirley as Lewis, then Lewis Sisters.
During the next decade Lewis retreated from public life and moved to Los Angeles, though in 1992 she worked on the Joan Armatrading album Square the Circle as a backing vocalist, along with her sister Shirley and Sylvia Mason-James. She then returned to record Second Nature (1995), which found success in the Japanese charts. Its success led to live performances, which were recorded and released as On The Stage - Live in Japan (1996). Three more albums followed. Warner Bros. Records released Reach for the Truth-The Best of The Reprise Years (2002), an anthology of her work during the previous thirty years. This was followed by BMG releasing The Best of Linda Lewis (2003), which included her hit singles. During 2003 she also appeared on the at the Glastonbury Festival, and was filmed by BBC Television whilst she appeared on the Jazz and World Stage.
Her song "Old Smokey" was used by the Rap artist known as Common, on his single "Go!" (2005), which appeared on his album Be (2005). This was produced by Kanye West and reached No. 1 on the United States R&B and Hip Hop charts. She recorded Live in Old Smokey (2006), which featured new and previously released songs and toured UK the same year. On 28 October 2006 The National Portrait Gallery opened an exhibit entitled Photographs 1965-2006, this featured a portrait by Lewis's former husband Jim Cregan and other sitters, such as Shirley Bassey. In 2007 she toured with the Soul Britannia All Stars in the UK and on 3 February 2007 BBC Four featured performances by Lewis, in a sixty minute recording of a Barbican show with The Soul Britannia All Stars. In June of the same year, she collaborated with Basement Jaxx on "Close Your Eyes", which featured in the Japanese anime film Vexille.
Linda Lewis has a five octave vocal range. Charles Waring of Blues & Soul magazine described her vocal range, as heard on The Best of Linda Lewis (2003), as "powerful". In her review of Lewis's album Second Nature (1995) for Allmusic, Amy Hanson describes Lewis's voice as "remarkable and dynamic", and of Lewis's ability to sing in the whistle register Hanson comments in her review of Lark (1972), "No longer a wild weapon that can soar from childlike lilt to screaming dog whistle without a moment's notice, she channels her range to the emotions it demands." Lewis's voice has also been compared to Mariah Carey, and reviewer Melissa Weber commented that her voice had similarities to Minnie Riperton's and that Lewis had "a wider vocal range than Riperton, with the ability to sing in a lower register."
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