Franklin’s New Bethel Baptist. After winning countless talent shows, DuShon went professional, emulating her idol, blues queen, Dinah Washington, who heard about the young girl who was “imitating me!” A frightening confrontation with Dinah nearly traumatized DuShon, who immediately started developing her own style. As her reputation grew, she came to the attention of famed agent, John Levy, who was managing such artists as Nancy Wilson, Dakota Staton, Cannonball Adderly and George Shearing. Levy secured many prestigious engagements for the talented singer and a contract with Chicago's Chess Records, where she recorded three albums (Make Way For Jean DuShon, You Better Believe Me and Feeling Good). During this period, Ron Miller, a staff song-writer at Motown, tapped Jean (after seeing her perform in a Detroit club) to help him with a song he and Orlando Murden were "retouching." Jean worked with Miller on the song, made suggestions and gave him new ideas.
Ron loved her input so much, he urged her to record the tune. The song was "For Once In My Life." DuShon had the FIRST release on the song, which showcased her soulful, impassioned singing; so impressive, it was chosen as "pick hit of the week" by Detroit's WXY & Z in April, 1966. Chess Records unwisely dropped the ball and didn't promote the record and it failed. A stunned DuShon was so devastated by the blunder, she ripped it out of her nightclub act and stopped singing it altogether.
The song went on to become one of the most covered in music history. Jean became star vocalist with legendary Cootie Williams' orchestra, sang with Lloyd Price’s band and toured the nation with Fats Domino, ending up at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Later, in New York, DuShon studied acting and entered the theatre. She starred off-Broadway in several shows and then Broadway beckoned and she appeared along side Glynn Turman and Dick Anthony Williams in the dramatic, “What The Wine Sellers Buy.” Ultimately, she starred in “Bubbling Brown Sugar” (a musical) opposite Cab Calloway and “Blues in the Night” with Leslie Uggams. "Blues" was nominated for "Best Musical" but lost the Tony Award to "Cats." She was invited to replace Odetta in the anemic Chicago production of “Little Dreamer – A Night in the Life of Bessie Smith” in which her rousing performance gave the show "new blood" and prevented it from closing. The rave notices she received revived the production to standing-room-only status and she stayed in it for over a year. Over the years, Jean, in addition to headlining her own nightclub act, appeared with many legends: Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Etta James, B.
B. King, Smokey Robinson, Big Mama Thornton, Count Basie, Joe Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Jack McDuff, "too many to mention" (DuShon). Jean had many recordings on different labels. Jean has forgotten some of them, like "Second Class Lover," which is a big cult record all over Europe. She has recorded for Columbia Records, ABC-Paramount, Atlantic Records (signed by Ahmet Ertegun & produced by Phil Spector), Lenox and Chess Records. Read more on Last.fm.
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