View All

Female Soul

By Tony Rounce

Where soul and R&B are concerned, Ace’s mostly male A&R team makes make no secret of its total admiration for the music of the fairer sex. We like to release as much of it as we can, as often as we can. If you don’t believe us, take an in depth look at the Ace website or our printed catalogue. You’ll find the titles of dozens of great compilations by some of soul’s foremost females from the past 50 years. That great declaration of admiration made by the Impressions and Jerry Butler almost 50 years ago is as true today as it was in the mid-60s – “The Woman’s Got Soul”.

The women we love recorded up north, down south and from coast to coast – as can be seen from the cross-section of releases just across the page – and always with an excellence to match and often exceed their male counterparts. There are no two ways about it, when it comes to singing about “the good, the bad, the hurt”, women have never been the weaker sex in soul music.

We could probably fill a whole edition of Sure Shots with fantastic packages by our soul girls, and still have plenty left over for the next one. Rather than do that, we’ll tantalise you with a representative selection, and leave the rest of the voyage of discovery to you. It doesn’t matter if you prefer your lady soulsters to sound sweet’n’teeny like Nella Dodds, sassy’n’saucy like Millie Jackson or gritty’n’gospel like Mitty Collier, we definitely have lots to suit you.

Let’s hear it for the girls!

Selected releases

  • Barbara Lynn: A Good Woman: The Complete Tribe & Jet Stream Singles

    Triple threat singer-songwriter-guitarist Barbara Lynn Ozen is the personification of South Texas soul. This collection showcases over 10 year’s worth of memorable music and features many of her signature songs. 

  • Irma Thomas - Time Is On My Side

    The Soul Queen of New Orleans has a reputation earned through almost 55 years of exemplary recording activity. The very best of her early sides for Minit and Imperial populate this essential compilation. 

  • Maxine Brown - Best Of The Wand Years

    Maxine’s mid-60s recordings for Wand set the standard by which all other New York soul sessions should be judged. There’s no better way to get to know her than via this all killer, no filler compilation. 

  • Thelma Jones - Second Chance: The Complete Barry & Columbia Recordings

    The wonderful Thelma never got the breaks worthy of a singer of her class. She can be heard at her very best on this compilation of her finest 60s and 70s recordings for the Barry and Columbia labels.

  • Carla Thomas - Sweer Sweetheart: The American Studios Sessions And More

    One of 60s soul’s most beloved soul sisters, yet somehow still one of its most underrated. “Sweet Sweetheart” offers a treasure trove of mostly previously unissued material from the Stax vaults, including a whole shelved album. 

  • Mable John - Stay Out Of The Kitchen

    Although most didn’t make it to vinyl at the time, Little Willie’s big sister’s mid-60s tenure at Stax Records yielded enough sublime tracks for us to put together this CD of exceptional Memphis soul more than 30 years later.

  • Brenda Holloway - The Artistry Of Brenda Holloway

    For many, Brenda Holloway will always be the greatest of Motown’s many formidable solo females. This collection features all of her Tamla singles plus eight vital vault finds that have waited over 40 years to be heard. 

  • Aretha Franklin - Just A Matter Of Time: Classic Columbia Recordings

    The myth that Aretha’s fledgling career was mishandled by Columbia has long since been dispelled. This collection shows that she always knew where she was going and it was just a matter of time before she got there. 

  • Carolyn Franklin - Sister Soul: The Best Of The RCA Years

    Erma and Carolyn never got the career breaks their sister did, but both could sing up the same kind of storm. Carolyn wrote several hits for Aretha and recorded great material in her own right for several labels during the 60s and 70s.