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Judy Clay


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Judy Clay (12 September 1938 - 19 July 2001) was an American soul and gospel singer, who achieved greatest success as a member of two recording duos in the 1960s.

Born Judy Guions, in St. Pauls, North Carolina, she was raised by her grandmother in Fayetteville and began singing in church. After moving to Brooklyn in the early 1950s, she was adopted by Lee Drinkard Warrick of The Drinkard Singers. Clay made her recorded debut with the Drinkard Singers - who later became better known as The Sweet Inspirations - on the 1954 LP “The Newport Spiritual Stars”.

She left the Drinkard Singers in 1960 and made her first solo recording, “More Than You Know”, on Ember Records. This was followed by further singles on several labels, but with little commercial success, although “You Busted My Mind” later became successful on Britain’s Northern soul club circuit. In 1967, Atlantic Records teamed her up with singer-songwriter Billy Vera, and The Sweet Inspirations, to record “Storybook Children”. The record made #20 on the R&B charts and #54 pop.

After a further hit duet with Billy Vera, “Country Girl, City Man”, which reached #41 R&B and #36 pop, and an album together, she returned to Stax Records. There she had further successes, this time with William Bell. Their recording of “Private Number” reached #17 in the R&B chart and #75 on the US pop chart, and had even greater success in the UK where it reached #8 in the pop chart. A follow-up, “My Baby Specializes”, also made the R&B chart, before she returned to Atlantic for less successful recordings with Vera and a final solo hit “Greatest Love” (#45 R&B in 1970).


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