By JACK WEATHERLYA woman sat on a stool, microphone in hand, while she and a keyboardist noodled on a song on the “front porch” of the museum.
She sounded pretty good. No. Much better than that.
They were working on a song, “Misty Blue.”
The singer was Dorothy Moore, the Jackson native who made the tune a standard in the recording industry 40 years ago.
Moore, 69, who still calls Jackson home, was practicing with one of her brothers, Melvin Hendrex, Friday afternoon for a black-tie affair that night before the grand opening of Cleveland’s Grammy Museum Mississippi the next day.
She introduced herself to her chance interviewer and graciously recounted highlights of her life.
She started singing the blues at 12 at the Alamo Theater in Jackson, she said, “and didn’t know what the blues was about. I just knew I had ‘em,” she said with a laugh.
When she was 16, a producer for Epic Records showed up late one night at her great-grandmother’s residence – which Moore said had a boxcar shape and so it was called a “train-built house,” what is now commonly known as a shotgun house.
The house was on Monument Avenue in the heart of Farish Street District, the thriving center of black commerce in the days of segregation when African-Americans were not allowed full participation in the broader economy. She was born in the district, “caught by a midwife,” she said, with a chuckle.
Her great-grandmother, who was Moore’s guardian, said for the man to come back and talk with her in the daytime.
She signed a contract for her great-granddaughter, leading to Moore’s career, which began after she graduated from Lanier High in 1965.
Her first album, “Lullabye of Love,” was released in 1966. She was lead singer in a three-girl group, the Poppies, in the golden era of so-called girl groups such as the Supremes and the Marvelettes.
The album was a cross-over success and the trio toured the nation with artists such as Joe Tex, William Bell, Wilson Pickett and Bobby Goldsboro, she said.
“I’ve been touring ever since,” she said, adding that she selects her schedule these days, instead as being at the beck and call of tour organizers.
“I’m in Europe every year,” said Moore, sporting a black satin jacket with “Dorothy Moore World Tour” embroidered in gold letters.
She has had four Grammy nominations.
In 1976, she was nominated for best female vocalist and record (45-rpm) of the year for “Misty Blue,” recorded at Jackson’s Malaco Records
She was nominated in those categories the next year for “I Believe You,” also on the Malaco label.
She was accompanied by long-time friend and manager Marcia Weaver, a former teacher and city councilwoman in Jackson, who met Moore when the council awarded the singer a commendation.
“I thought she needed help in her money collected from all sorts of sources,” Weaver said.
Moore said that “she has helped me so much.”
The singer said she is “so grateful” to be born and raised in the Farish District – plans for rebuilding of which are still active – and see the world.
She’ll be ready for the revival of the place that nurtured her and launched her on a 50-year career.
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