Cary Baker is an excellent publicist who I have the pleasure of working with from time to time. His company is called Conqueroo, and his client list is pretty impressive. Among the artists he represents are Otis Taylor, Mitch Ryder, Willie Nile, Martin Sexton, and Todd Rundgren.
What makes Cary a cut above the rest in his field is that he knows, and loves great music. For that reason I follow his Facebook posts with great interest. He often posts videos of lesser known music from back in the day. Last week there was one featuring a great soul singer from the ’60s who I’d never heard of, or forgotten somewhere along the way.
McKinley Mitchell was one of the many soul artists who got their start in Mississippi before moving north to Chicago. While still in Jackson he fronted a gospel group called the Hearts of Harmony. He moved around a little, stopping in Springfield, MS and Philadelphia, before arriving in Chicago in 1958.
In 1961 Mitchell signed with a label called One-derful, which was owned by George Leaner. His first single for the new label was a powerful ballad called “The Town I Live In”. The record was a big hit on the R&B chart, and got the label off to a good start.
There were several follow-ups for One-derful, but none of them matched the success of “The Town I Live In.” Willie Dixon produced some Mitchell singles for Chess and other labels, but none of them were very successful either.
It was not until 1977 that Mitchell made it back to the R&B chart with another powerful ballad, “The End of the Rainbow.” The single was released on the Malaco imprint Chimneyville. There was an album for Malaco the following year, and a few others, but by 1984 Mitchell had returned to Jackson. He died in 1986.[youtube id=”cywd2y3Zdzc” width=”600″ height=”350″]