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Carla Thomas

The Queen of Memphis Soul

Armando Bellmas
Armando Bellmas
Carla Thomas

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to a deep cut by Carla Thomas, the Queen of Memphis Soul. Raised in a musical family, Thomas found success early with her soulful voice. She recorded for Stax—the legendary soul, blues, and funk label—and collaborated with Otis Redding and Booker T. & The M.G.s.

You'll go deeper with an excerpt from and a link to an in-depth article about Carla Thomas's career by Megan Heutmaker on the Ponderosa Stomp Festival's blog.


"Unyielding" by Carla Thomas
1971 | The Queen of Memphis Soul

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Growing up in a household filled with music of all kinds was a blessing. In addition to Carla [Thomas]’s massive success, her older brother Marvell became a splendid keyboardist who did plenty of session work at Stax [Records] during the ‘60s and ‘70s. The outgoing Rufus [Thomas, Carla's father and musician] was a local celebrity thanks to his daily radio program on WDIA and a longtime gig emceeing the Palace Theater’s weekly amateur contest. That brought his daughter into direct contact with many of the stars of the era. “It was just like second nature to be around entertainers,” says Carla. “It was kind of our upbringing.

“Where we lived was a place called the Foote Homes, and it was maybe about only ten or 15 minutes’ walking distance from Beale Street [in Memphis]. So even at a young age, Daddy was teaching us rhythmic patterns,” she says. “We learned them streetwise from my dad. My dad was a tap dancer in his early days, so he was really into rhythmic patterns. He would teach us things that Bo Diddley ended up doing on record. We would sing those kinds of songs, and then he’d teach us how to do our hands in different rhythmic patterns. So even at three and four years old, we were doing drum licks, I guess you would call it, and bass rhythms and humming things that were rhythmic.

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