This female Caribbean-born American R&B singer out of the Bronx, recorded two of the most infectious songs – songs you hear, but just cannot get them out of your head…
Video: The Name Game 1965 (first rap record?)
The Nitty Gritty/ Congress 202/ December 1963/ #8
The Name Game/ Congress 230/ January 1965/ #3
The Clapping Song/ Congress 234/ April 1965/ #8
Shirley began singing with her family as a youngster. In the fifties she wrote a song called “One, Two, I Love You” for the Heartbreakers who recorded it for Vik. Later on, Alicia Evelyn introduced her to songwriter Lincoln Chase ( “Jim Dandy” for La Vern Baker and “Such a Night” for the Drifters), and they began working together. Lincoln then wrote a song called “The Nitty Gritty,” which he wanted Shirley to record. He took her to Hal Fein of Roosevelt Music, who vetoed doing the song. Next stop was Trinity Music, where Bobby Darin said that Shirley sounded too old on the song.
Finally, in 1963, Charlie Singleton introduced Lincoln to Al Galico of Galico Publishing, who liked the song. Next door to Galico’s office was Kapp Records‘ newly acquired Congress Records. Congress released the song in the fall of 1963, and it went on to become a top-ten national hit.
In late 1964, another Lincoln Chase song, “The Name Game” became Shirley’s biggest hit.