FAYE ADAMS

Born Fanny Tuell, 22 May 1923, Newark, New Jersey

Fay began her career at age five with two older siblings in the Tuell Sisters gospel group, regularly appearing on Newark broadcasts. In 1942 she married Tommy Scruggs, under whose influence she moved into the direction of secular music. By the early 1950s she was a staple of the NYC nightclub circuit. Fay Scruggs was very determined to become a successful singer. For years she haunted the corridors of the office buildings housing the many small record companies and song publishers in New York City. It was Ruth Brown who spotted her while performing in Atlanta and Ruth's encouragement led to an audition for promoter Phil Moore in his Carnegie Hall office. Moore immediately became her manager, changed her name to the more theatrical "Faye Adams", and introduced her to Joe Morris, a popular rhythm and blues bandleader, who led a successful touring company known as the "Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade". The Cavalcade's previous featured singer, Laurie Tate, had recently resigned to raise a family and Faye was hired as her replacement. Morris was contracted to Atlantic and recorded one session with Faye for that label in late 1952. The resulting single, the novelty "That's What Makes My Baby Fat", went nowhere, but, undaunted, Morris felt he had the perfect song for Faye to record, his own composition "Shake A Hand". His Atlantic contract had expired and Morris signed with another NYC independent, Herald Records. The first Herald release by the Morris band was "Shake A Hand", featuring Faye Adams on vocal with her superb voice. The record topped the R&B charts for an amazing ten weeks in 1953 and also crossed over to the pop charts (# 22). It is one of the most power- ful and recognizable R&B songs of the 1950s. Many other artists have recorded "Shake A Hand", among them Little Richard, the Mike Pedicin Quintet (# 71 pop, 1958), LaVern Baker (# 13 R&B, 1960), Ruth Brown (# 97 pop, 1962) and the duo Jackie Wilson and Linda Hopkins (# 21 R&B, # 42 pop, 1963).

In 1954, Faye managed to score two more chart toppers with "I'll Be True" (covered by Bill Haley) and "Hurts Me To My Heart". During this remarkable period, she was billed as "Atomic Adams", a tribute to her showmanship on stage. By this time Miss Adams had left Morris' s band and struck out on her own. In 1955 she appeared in the movie "Rhythm & Blues Revue". She eventually recorded some 30 songs for Herald before leaving in 1957, to join Imperial Records. But only "Keeper Of My Heart" on that label made any impression (# 13 R&B in mid-1957). It would be her final chart entry. Other labels followed in quick succession : Lido, Warwick, Brunswick, Savoy and Prestige. By 1963 she had retired from the secular music scene and returned to her gospel roots and family life in New Jersey. She even refused to discuss her classic R&B sides during the decades to come.

CD : Faye Adams, The Herald Singles (Collectables, 1990). Only 14 tracks and the sound quality isn't the greatest, obviously dubbed fom vinyl. She deserves a better reissue compilation.

 
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