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Joyce Kennedy

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Joyce "Baby Jean" Kennedy was born in Anguilla, MS, in 1948, and raised in Chicago. It's unclear how Andre Williams became her early mentor, but he produced nearly all her early sides on Ran Dee, Fontana, and Blue Rock Records. She notched a local hit with "Darling I Still Love You," which was co-written by Williams. Released in 1963, it received little airplay anywhere else. A second release on Ran Dee, "Can't Take a Chance," also failed to perform. Kennedy then appeared on Fontana Records with "Paddle My Own Canoe." With Williams still at the helm, she released "I'm a Good Girl." The boisterous single became her second local hit, but once again, went nowhere outside of Cook County. A second Blue Rock release, "My Hi Fi Albums and Me," flopped as well, but is sought after by some collectors and is found on some Northern soul compilations. Though the recordings ended, she still performed all over the Chicago area. She met singer Glenn Murdock, an ex-Vondells member, and the soulful duet embarked on tours across the country. After marrying, the two formed Mother's Finest in 1975, presumptively billed as the first black rock band. They had a steady stream of album releases, all critically acclaimed, but only scrounged a couple of small hits. A nonentity for black audiences, the band's fondest fans were white, and after disbanding in 1984, Kennedy signed with A&M. During 1984-85, she enjoyed a string of hit singles, led by the Top 40 "The Last Time I Made Love" (a duet with Jeffrey Osborne), but also including "Stronger than Before," "Lookin' for Trouble," and "Hold On (For Love's Sake)." ~ Andrew Hamilton

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