View All


By Mick Patrick

To be born blonde might be a good indication of bloodline but not necessarily of character. To dye one’s hair blonde, or to don a blonde wig, on the other hand, can be statement of intent – blonde ambition. To quote Heidi Klum, “Going blonde is like buying yourself a light bulb.” It worked a treat for the some of the former brunettes here, for sure.

Black blondes are not unusual on the music scene of today but it was a different story in the 1950s and 60s. The first was likely Joyce Bryant, the steamy “Black Marilyn”, who, in a bid to stand out above the competition, resorted to upending a tin of silver radiator paint over her head. “Joyce caught all kinds of hell for having blonde hair,” wrote Etta James in her memoir. “I dug her and copied her style.” Other black women singers followed suit, including a number of those in the James Brown Revue.

There again, a change can be as good as a rest. “I felt depressed and had to do something about it,” the newly blonde Dionne Warwick told the press in 1965. “It’s a lovely honey shade. Next time I get depressed I may change to a redhead.” Today they’d call it reinvention.

In any event, the hair colour, natural or otherwise, of the women featured in this article is of no real significance. What is important is they all have recordings available on Ace … because they’re worth it. 

Selected releases