Video: Yes I’m Ready/ 1965
1. Yes, I’m Ready/ Artic 105/ June 1965/ #5
2. Sad, Sad Girl/ Artic 108/ September 1965/ #27
3. Give Me Your Love/ Buddah 331/ February 1973/ #31
4. From His Woman To You/ Buddah 441/ December 1974/ #28 [Russ’s favourite]
A soul singer, Mason initially focused on songwriting when she entered the music industry in her teens. As a performer, though, she had a hit single in 1965 with her self-penned Top 10 hit, “Yes, I’m Ready” (number five pop, number two R&B), a fetching soul-pop confection that spotlighted her high, girlish vocals.
One of the first examples of the sweet, lush sound that came to be called Philly soul, she had modest success throughout the rest of the decade on the small Arctic label, reaching the Billboard Hot 100Top 40 again in 1965 with “Sad, Sad Girl“, and “Oh How It Hurts” in 1967-68.
In the early and mid 1970s, Mason toughened her persona considerably, singing about sexual love and infidelity with a frankness that was uncommon for a female soul singer in songs like “Bed and Board,” “From His Woman to You,” and “Shackin’ Up.”
Sweet soul continued to be her groove, and she continued to write some of her material. But the production, as it was throughout soul in the ’70s, was more funk-oriented, and at times Mason would interrupt her singing to deliver some straight-talkin’ raps about romance.
Curtis Mayfield produced her on a cover version of Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love,” which restored her to the pop Top 40 and R&B Top Ten in 1973; “From His Woman to You” (the response to Shirley Brown‘s single “Woman to Woman“) and “Shackin’ Up” were also solid soul sellers in the mid ’70s.
After leaving Buddah Records in 1975, she only dented the charts periodically, with “I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife” (1978), and “Another Man” (1984).
These two were to be her last top forty records. The Disco era came into vogue, and Barbara Mason didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
Barbara Mason got away from performing for a number of years. In the early 90’s producer Alan Beck asked her to perform at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. After a terrific performance there her career once again took off. She has worked on commercial ventures for companies such as Blockbuster, Sony and Toyota and has her own publishing company called Marc James Music.
Barbara was good friends with singer Jackie Wilson before he died, and continues to be good friends with some people who have helped her with her career, including Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, and Dick Clark. She tells stories of things that have happened during her career.
At one performance in Kansas City, she called a gentleman from the crowd up on stage to help her sing Yes, I’m Ready. He very much enjoyed the song and went into an epileptic fit, resulting in a headline in the newspaper the next day that said “Barbara Mason Knocks Them Dead.” A compilation of about fifty of her songs was recently issued on the Bear Family label.
Barbara Mason is an underrated star. Still living in the Philadelphia area, she continues to perform and laughingly says that if President Clinton ever calls to ask her to sing at the White House, she will be ready. The song that she wrote and recorded as a teenager, Yes, I’m Ready, has been played on the radio more than three million times.
Barbara Mason has twelve album releases. Her songs have been recorded, covered and sampled by an array of artists from, R&B and Hip–Hop to the Pop and Jazz genres.
Her music can be found on various Classic Soul and R&B compilations, as well as soundtracks for the motion pictures, “Auto Focus“, and the acclaimed Indie film, ”Jesus’ Son”.
Ms. Mason’s vocal style has been a major influence on the careers of many of today’s leading female R&B artist such as; Angie Stone, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.
She has founded her own recording label and music production company, Lioness Recordings, and Mason Media Productions. In addition to her music publishing company, Marc James Music.
In 2006, Ms. Mason graciously accepted the prestigious Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, thus cementing her place as a true living legend of Rhythm and Blues music.