Motown’s first ever female solo artist and Ray Charles’ collaborator Mable John dies at 91
Posted by  badge Boss on Aug 29
Mable John, the first female solo act to sign with the legendary Motown label before collaborating with Ray Charles, has died at 91 (Picture: Getty)

Legendary soul singer Mable John, the first solo female artist signed by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, has died aged 91.

The , who died at her home in Los Angeles on Thursday, was just a couple of months shy of her 92nd birthday.

The cause of death has not yet been revealed.

Her nephew Kevin John told The Detroit News: ‘We loved her and she was a kind person.’

In addition to being the first solo female artist signed to Motown, the late star, who was the older sister of 1960s R&B singer Little Willie John, was a member of The Raelettes – ’ backing band.

John, who was born in 1930 in Bastrop, Louisiana the first of nine children, was discovered as a teenager by then-upcoming music producer Berry Gordy.

Singer and pianist Ray Charles poses for a portrait with Mable John circa 1968 in Los Angeles (Picture: Getty Images)
Mable, who quit music to become a church minister, picked the mic back up in 2015 to perform at The Ponderosa Stomp at Rock n’ Bowl in New Orleans, for one of her last performances (Picture: Getty)

Berry later founded Motown and discovered the likes of and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

He made John the first solo female act to sign with his Tamla Records in 1958, which, became known as Motown two years later.

‘He became my vocal coach, my manager and, within a couple of years, my record producer,’ she recalled to author Susan Whithall, according to Motown Classic’s website.

Mable (L) in 1972 alongside Ray and his backup singers The Raelettes, of which she was a member (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

She left the label in the mid 1960s to join Stax Records in Memphis, where she recorded 1966 hit Your Good Thing (Is About to End), which reached number six on the US Charts.

She later became the musical director and a singer in the late Ray Charles’ Raelettes backing band, where she stayed for over 10 years.

She eventually quit music to become a church minister and was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.


The song-writer was the hit-maker behind classics such as Baby Love and Two Hearts.