Obituaries

Marva Whitney, energetic singer for James Brown

NEW YORK — James Brown was Soul Brother No. 1 and, for a while, Marva Whitney was Soul Sister No. 1.

That was the nickname Brown gave her when she was a singer in the James Brown Revue and a solo artist on his King Records, turning out brassy, rowdy empowerment anthems that came to be prized by funk savants, sample-chasing hip-hop producers, and collectors.

Advertisement

As part of the James Brown Revue, Ms. Whitney, who died Dec. 22 at 68, had her own featured segment during its shows and sang duets with Brown, her vocals effortlessly intense. After joining the revue in 1967, she was with Brown in some of his most momentous shows during a tumultuous 1968, including performances in Vietnam for US soldiers and in Boston the night after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Her breakthrough solo single was the urgent shout ‘‘Unwind Yourself,’’ which gained new life as the sample behind the seminal hip-hop breakbeat record ‘‘The 900 Number’’ by DJ Mark the 45 King.

Ms. Whitney was popular enough to land on the cover of Jet magazine, but her fame waned after she left Brown’s camp in late 1969.

Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com