Kim Weston this weekend. A lot of music aficionados will recognize the name as the iconic Soul singer and Motown alumnus of the 1960s. You’d be partly right. Kim Weston is a whole lot more than that. In addition to her credits as a Soul singer, she was also heavily involved in Gospel as well as a Jazz singer. This particular concert showcases what her Jazz singing was all about in this 1978 concert put on by Donald Byrd and done in support of the Cultural Renaissance going on in Detroit in the late 1970s at the iconic Paradise Theatre. And since the concert was in celebration of a cultural revival in Detroit, and since Kim Weston mentions Easter – and since today is Easter, and we’re celebrating renewal and revitalizing – it’s perfect timing.
Here’s a little background on Kim Weston via AllMusic’s Steve Huey:
Best known as a duet partner of Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston also charted with some of her own solo sides during the ’60s, although she never had the breakout success of a Martha Reeves or Diana Ross. Born Agatha Natalie Weston in Detroit in 1939, she started singing in her church choir at age three, and by her teenage years had joined a touring gospel group called the Wright Specials. She signed with Motown during the company’s early days, scoring a minor R&B hit in 1963 with “Love Me All the Way.” The following year, she recorded her first duet with Gaye, “What Good Am I Without You,” but made the tactical error of turning down a chance to record “Dancing in the Street,” which subsequently became a smash hit for Martha & the Vandellas. She enjoyed her biggest solo hit in 1965 with “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)” and followed it up in 1966 with the equally soulful “Helpless,” both of which helped make her reputation among soul collectors. Also in 1966, she cut an entire album of duets with Gaye, Take Two, which produced the Top Five R&B classic “It Takes Two.” By the time it was peaking on the charts in early 1967, however, Weston had already left Motown; she and her husband, producer William “Mickey” Stevenson, moved to MGM, but a pair of albums there (For the First Time and This Is America) proved to be commercial failures. Weston subsequently recorded for Volt (Kim Kim Kim), People (Big Brass Four Poster, an album of jazz standards with the Hastings Street Jazz Experience), and Johnny Nash’s Banyan Tree, all without much success. She did, however, chart with her version of the anthem “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” in 1970. Weston largely disappeared from the music industry during the ’70s; in 1987, Weston became the first of many Motown artists to work with British producer Ian Levine on the Motorcity label, re-recording many of her old hits for the Northern soul market; her two albums for Motorcity, 1990’s Investigate and 1992’s Talking Loud, also featured some new material.
For a taste of Kim Weston’s Jazz side, click on the Play button and dive into this memorable concert from Detroit in 1978.