Ann Peebles Biography
Through her crossover R&B/pop hit of 1974, I Can't Stand The Rain (featured on female rap sensation Missy Elliott's smash single The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), Ann Peebles has come to be known as a real "singers' singer" and a "musicians' musician." A strikingly, even classically beautiful woman, Ann Peebles has always been her own person. Perhaps this explains, at least in part, why she has had such an influence on real soul music, R&B, and pop music since her great successes in the early seventies. In fact, her recordings of I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, Come to Mama, I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home, and even standards like I Pity The Fool and Part Time Love are considered the definitive versions. With the worldwide success of I Can't Stand The Rain (written with her husband Donald Bryant and a local disc jockey), she exploded into the musical mainstream. The song and her singing drew praise from everyone from John Lennon to Bonnie Raitt, who was quoted in a Rolling Stone feature on Ann, as saying, "She's my hero!" And, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Ann Peebles is obviously and widely admired for her artistry, as evidenced by the numerous covers of her own versions own songs have spawned: from English artists like Graham Parker and Paul Young to American rockers such as Bob Seger, Patti Labelle and Tina Turner.
For all the recognizably of her style and songs, Ann Peebles has always deliberately kept a very low profile. Petite, somewhat shy, and still young, Ann was born in the heart of St. Louis known as Kin loc County, where she sang in a family gospel choir with her ten brothers and sisters, performing on St. Louis bills with gospel greats like the Soul Stirrers and Mahalia Jackson. But while her roots are in St. Louis and the church, her greatest success came when she moved to Memphis and embraced rhythm and blues.
Like Al Green, her male counterpart in the Hi Records Memphis Soul revival of the early seventies, she made records with Willie Mitchell. Mitchell produced his trademark funky, yet refined soul sound with the help of a group of studio musicians, the Hi rhythm section. Led by the Hodges Brothers (Teenie on guitar, Charles on organ, and Leroy on bass) and anchored by the MGs Al Jackson and later Howard Grimes, this group played on all of the records to come out of the Hi Studios.
Clearly Ann Peebles was the outstanding female singer in Memphis of this era. She was tiny ("99 pounds of natural born goodness, 99 pounds of soul," she sang in one of her hits) but her voice was remarkably big and overwhelmingly soulful. Her first records were tough rhythm and blues remakes of sides like Bobby Bland's I Pity The Fool and a definitive interpretation of Little Johnny Taylor's Part Time Love. Soon, with the help of her husband Donald Bryant (himself a Hi artist) she penned memorable songs. The biggest was I Can't Stand the Rain, a major 1974 single that was Pebbles most lasting legacy. From it's ominous "drip drop" timbale figure at the beginning, Ann testifies over a slowly percolating Memphis groove.
1997 brought us Ann Peebles' second release on written and produced by Ann herself, Donald Bryant, and music director, arranger; Paul Brown titled Fill This World with Love (BEYE 9564). That album like her last earned much praise from her critics as well as a Handy Nomination, but it also spawned a worldwide tour that featured Ann Peebles in the most captivating live shows of her career. After Ann Peebles left Bullseye in 1998, she embarked on a series of album appearances including duets with soul legends, Don Covay, Carl Weathersby, European superstar Billie Ray Martin and most recently her husband Don Bryant on his brand new release titled It's All In The Word. She and husband Don Bryant continue finding rewards in their involvement with a local therapeutic foster care agency called Omni Vision, Inc.
Still not much more than "99 pounds of soul," Ann Pebbles today is a unique and winning combination of emotional depth and artistic integrity. Graceful and soft-spoken, Ann is an amazing woman, mother and artist of rare depth and great contrast made all the more powerful and extraordinary by the strength of the voice coming from such a petite and restrained singer.