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  1. #1

    Lost opportunty:Jean Terrell, Solo Recording Contract?

    Should Motown have signed, from the onset, Jean Terrell as a solo singer?

    If so who would you have to replace Diana Ross in The Supremes?
    Last edited by TNSUN; 03-24-2021 at 09:25 AM.

  2. #2
    I'd say no.

    If they had signed Jean to be a solo artist, we wouldn't have all those great recordings she made as a Supreme. She might have recorded some good solo material but what would have happened with it? After 1970, besides Diana, Motown didn't really have a consistently successful solo female artist. Jean might have become like Syreeta or Thelma Houston who had a hit or two here and there but never really broke through.
    Last edited by reese; 03-24-2021 at 08:53 AM.

  3. #3
    I would have nominated Freda Payne as the next Supreme. She recorded an album in 2014 which includes a lovely duet with Johnny Mathis.

    "Stoned Love", renamed by this wishful producer, "One Love" would have been a great solo song for Jean Terrell. Her voice is unique and memorable.

    Are there disco variations of "Stoned Love"?

  4. #4
    i agree that Jean as a solo artist wouldn't have gone far at motown. not because she wasn't talented but why would they try to break in another female singer when they had DR?

    if anything other than the Sups, i'm surprise Ernie and the Heavyweights didn't sign to motown

  5. #5
    Jean was signed to Motown as a solo artist.

  6. #6
    I never knew she was signed as a solo artist at Motown. I thought she was only signed on as a member of the Supremes. How many solo albums were released?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TNSUN View Post
    I never knew she was signed as a solo artist at Motown. I thought she was only signed on as a member of the Supremes. How many solo albums were released?
    None, but her original contract was that of a solo artist. Not sure how Lynda, Scherrie, and Susaye were contracted.

  8. #8
    Motown had a roster of female solo artists that they didn't know what to do with. Jean would have become a Chris Clark. Brenda Holloway. Kim Weston.

    I sometimes wonder if Motown purposely contracted these artists then did nothing with them, so other labels couldn't have them.

  9. #9
    The way I understand it, all of Motown's performers were signed as soloists, that way Motown had control on how they used them. In doing this, Flo was able to sub for a pregnant Wanda Rogers in 1962 as a Marvelette. If Flo had been signed to Motown specifically as a Supreme then this would breach that contract. This also allowed the Motown artists to record on other artists material.

  10. #10
    I agree with Reese. As a HUGE Jean fan, it's already disappointing that mostly "all" we have is the stuff Jean recorded as a Supreme. I wish she had as large a catalog as Diana. But had she been brought on board as a soloist only, in all likelihood, we wouldn't even have as much as we do with her as a Supreme.

    More than wishing Jean had been a Motown soloist instead of a Supreme, I wish her post Supremes career had been even more successful than her Supremes career.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    why would they try to break in another female singer when they had DR?
    Which speaks to the stupidity of Motown. It's such a ridiculous notion that Diana be the only female focus. [["Only" being used loosely here, as Gladys got quite a bit of attention from the label too, despite her revisionism.) Could you imagine someone saying "Why do we need Marvin when we already have Stevie?" For all Motown's geniuses, they were sometimes the dumbest geniuses in the world.

  12. #12
    If I’m correct DMF along with Barbara were signed as a group and they were renewed as a group [[sans Barbara) . They signed in 1961 and renewed in 65. Flo was fired in 67 but was still under contract til her release in 68. I’m guessing Cindy was under a temporary contract from 67 til 69 when the group resigned. Jean mentioned she was signed separately from Mary and Cindy because they were already contracted as the Supremes. Mary also mentioned that Jeans contract was different than hers because she was signed as a solo and was basically subletting membership into the Supremes. I’m sure that Lynda and Susaye was let in the same way. I’m sure Scherrie was actually signed as a Supreme seeing that Mary and Cindy resigned that same day.

  13. #13
    i think Flo subbing for Wanda was more a young and scrappy record company doing what had to be done in a pinch. remember that the supremes recorded for a couple months at motown without ANY contract. in the early days people just did want needed to be done.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Which speaks to the stupidity of Motown. It's such a ridiculous notion that Diana be the only female focus. [["Only" being used loosely here, as Gladys got quite a bit of attention from the label too, despite her revisionism.) Could you imagine someone saying "Why do we need Marvin when we already have Stevie?" For all Motown's geniuses, they were sometimes the dumbest geniuses in the world.
    yeah i definitely don't disagree with you.

    Berry really was pretty singular in his focus. in terms of identifying the right person/group for this cross-over strategy, i think he was correct. but that certainly doesn't mean they're the only one capable of such things or that others can't contribute.

    the Gladys Knight vs DR issue is a perfect example. Gladys most certainly did NOT need taught how to sing or entertain. certainly Artist Dev helped them and i'm sure they appreciated it. but as black music became more and more popular and mainstream in the late 60s, it's a crime that they didn't allow GN&TP and the Soul label to evolve down it's own path. sure it's under the corp umbrella of Motown but the group styles, producers, stage acts, etc could have all be different from the Motown label and the Sups and DR.

  15. #15
    No, Jean would not have done as well with Motown as a solo artist. Jean Terrell is an amazing singer and did an admirable job replacing Ross as the main lead singer in the Supremes, but I don't think she had the magnetism to be a solo artist. Jean was known to have a mind of her own, so she would have had opposition to the Motown machinery. Plus, Terrell became disenchanted with the entertainment industry as witness her not wanting to tour to support her solo A&M release. Plus, to be honest, even though I loved her voice it had a tendency to become shrill such as the Jimmy Webb LP and if she didn't have the visual excitement that Mary and Cindy provided her as counterpoints, would she have generated much excitement from the public, much less from Gordy and Motown. Maybe she would have had a hit or two, but she would have no legacy as she actually has now as a lead singer of the Supremes.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by jim aka jtigre99 View Post
    No, Jean would not have done as well with Motown as a solo artist. Jean Terrell is an amazing singer and did an admirable job replacing Ross as the main lead singer in the Supremes, but I don't think she had the magnetism to be a solo artist. Jean was known to have a mind of her own, so she would have had opposition to the Motown machinery. Plus, Terrell became disenchanted with the entertainment industry as witness her not wanting to tour to support her solo A&M release. Plus, to be honest, even though I loved her voice it had a tendency to become shrill such as the Jimmy Webb LP and if she didn't have the visual excitement that Mary and Cindy provided her as counterpoints, would she have generated much excitement from the public, much less from Gordy and Motown. Maybe she would have had a hit or two, but she would have no legacy as she actually has now as a lead singer of the Supremes.
    I concur. I love Jean's voice and all of her Supremes recordings, except for the Jimmy Webb album. That project could have been so much better, especially since I think Jean may have preferred different, progressive, non-Motown music.

  17. #17
    That's a loaded question and I am not sure what was going on in Berry's mind. First he wanted her and then he didn't or did he really want the Heavyweights to sign ? I think Teena Marie brought some new things to the table as well as Thelma Houston. Gladys Knight was super good but she was still in a group so I can't really compare her. I think if any female artist had a huge hit then Berry was not going to smother it because that was money in the bank. Gordy put his money on Diana because number # 1 she did what he said and number # 2 she was a an entertainer and not just a singer.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by jim aka jtigre99 View Post
    No, Jean would not have done as well with Motown as a solo artist. Jean Terrell is an amazing singer and did an admirable job replacing Ross as the main lead singer in the Supremes, but I don't think she had the magnetism to be a solo artist. Jean was known to have a mind of her own, so she would have had opposition to the Motown machinery. Plus, Terrell became disenchanted with the entertainment industry as witness her not wanting to tour to support her solo A&M release. Plus, to be honest, even though I loved her voice it had a tendency to become shrill such as the Jimmy Webb LP and if she didn't have the visual excitement that Mary and Cindy provided her as counterpoints, would she have generated much excitement from the public, much less from Gordy and Motown. Maybe she would have had a hit or two, but she would have no legacy as she actually has now as a lead singer of the Supremes.
    Jean did not need Mary and Cindy, IMO. Back in those days a singer could often be allowed to just be that: a singer. Today you have to have all this extra stuff, and actually being vocally gifted isn't even a requirement anymore. I've seen enough Dionne Warwick performances from the period of time Jean was a Supreme to know that some audiences didn't give a shit about "magnetism". It was all about voice. And IMO Jean was a much more exciting stage entertainer than Dionne ever was.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by captainjames View Post
    That's a loaded question and I am not sure what was going on in Berry's mind. First he wanted her and then he didn't or did he really want the Heavyweights to sign ? I think Teena Marie brought some new things to the table as well as Thelma Houston. Gladys Knight was super good but she was still in a group so I can't really compare her. I think if any female artist had a huge hit then Berry was not going to smother it because that was money in the bank. Gordy put his money on Diana because number # 1 she did what he said and number # 2 she was a an entertainer and not just a singer.
    Jean had crossover appeal, which should've worked in her favor. Though she and Diana shared similar vocal qualities, she was not a Diana type entertainer. It would've been very interesting to see how well Jean would've done as a solo. The Supremes as an entity had a certain identity. Surely Jean's solo identity at the time would've been something different.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Jean did not need Mary and Cindy, IMO. Back in those days a singer could often be allowed to just be that: a singer. Today you have to have all this extra stuff, and actually being vocally gifted isn't even a requirement anymore. I've seen enough Dionne Warwick performances from the period of time Jean was a Supreme to know that some audiences didn't give a shit about "magnetism". It was all about voice. And IMO Jean was a much more exciting stage entertainer than Dionne ever was.
    I would have to disagree. Jean needed Mary and Cindy to give the stage presence some excitement. Jean was a very good singer who sounded like a blend of Diana and Dionne. We are talking Motown here and the type of music as well as stage and television performances that caught people's attention. Dionne had the music of bacharach and david like the Supremes had hdh and Diana had ashford and simpson. What would motown have afforded Terrell? Who would have crafted songs especially for her-Frank Wilson? Smokey? Terrell always seemed to come across as a little cold and aloof and she needed the warmth of Mary and Cindy to carry her across and sell the songs.Dionne may have just stood there but she never conveyed a cool aloof attitude like Jean seemed to, or at least, that is how it seemed to me. I honestly don't think Motown would have known what to do with her as a solo just like they didn't support the 70's Supremes. The focus was clearly on Diana. There were many talented female Motown singers that the company really didn't do anything with-Mary Wells, Martha reeves,Thelma Houston, Syreeta. There were hits here and there, but a lack of direction that Ross clearly had that Motown afforded to no one else. Once Jean left and Scherrie took her place, the group may have had too frantic a dance routine but clearly the charisma factor was so much higher than when Jean was there. Plus, Jean was very much outspoken with the record company which did not endear her to them and had she really had something as a solo then her tenure at A&M would have been much different. She also sabotaged that with her refusal to tour. I loved Jean's voice, as unique as it was it seemed to lack a certain warmth and pliability. And I was a bigger fan of the 70's supremes than Diana, but once Mary started to sing leads-her voice had the warmth that was missing in Jean and jean was not as pliable as Diana. Plus, Scherrie gave an exciting stage performance, warmth and was more pliable than Jean. So, yes, Jean was a good singer-but with those factors mentioned-do you think she would have had success at Motown ? I really don't.

  21. #21
    from a singing perspective and a recording perspective, Jean could easily handle solo material. much of what she recorded as a supreme, wasn't with M and C. they were still using the old approach of whichever bg vocalists were handy.

    as a stage performer, i'm not sure Jean was ready for a solo presentation in 1970. her stage presence was quite reserved and to be totally alone up on a stage and having to handle everything might have been too much. at least within the Supremes, she had M and C on stage with her to add to things. the stage act was redone to be less of a lead with 2 bg girls WAAAAYYYY back lol.

    being relatively new to the stage, being part of group allowed her begin to explore, test and learn.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jim aka jtigre99 View Post
    I would have to disagree. Jean needed Mary and Cindy to give the stage presence some excitement. Jean was a very good singer who sounded like a blend of Diana and Dionne. We are talking Motown here and the type of music as well as stage and television performances that caught people's attention. Dionne had the music of bacharach and david like the Supremes had hdh and Diana had ashford and simpson. What would motown have afforded Terrell? Who would have crafted songs especially for her-Frank Wilson? Smokey? Terrell always seemed to come across as a little cold and aloof and she needed the warmth of Mary and Cindy to carry her across and sell the songs.Dionne may have just stood there but she never conveyed a cool aloof attitude like Jean seemed to, or at least, that is how it seemed to me. I honestly don't think Motown would have known what to do with her as a solo just like they didn't support the 70's Supremes. The focus was clearly on Diana. There were many talented female Motown singers that the company really didn't do anything with-Mary Wells, Martha reeves,Thelma Houston, Syreeta. There were hits here and there, but a lack of direction that Ross clearly had that Motown afforded to no one else. Once Jean left and Scherrie took her place, the group may have had too frantic a dance routine but clearly the charisma factor was so much higher than when Jean was there. Plus, Jean was very much outspoken with the record company which did not endear her to them and had she really had something as a solo then her tenure at A&M would have been much different. She also sabotaged that with her refusal to tour. I loved Jean's voice, as unique as it was it seemed to lack a certain warmth and pliability. And I was a bigger fan of the 70's supremes than Diana, but once Mary started to sing leads-her voice had the warmth that was missing in Jean and jean was not as pliable as Diana. Plus, Scherrie gave an exciting stage performance, warmth and was more pliable than Jean. So, yes, Jean was a good singer-but with those factors mentioned-do you think she would have had success at Motown ? I really don't.
    Jean needed the other Supremes to make the act "Supreme", for sure. But the question was about Jean as a solo and I don't think there's any evidence that she needed anybody on stage in order to be entertaining. What made the music industry so fun was that everyone didn't have to be the same in order to succeed. Today the goal is always for everybody- superstars and non stars alike- to be similar. Uniqueness is not a goal. That was not the case back then. So Jean wouldn't have needed to be Diana as a solo. She could just be herself.

    Let's be clear, in reality Jean probably would not have gotten the attention she deserved at Motown. That's not my argument. My argument is that with attention Jean had as much chance as any other woman to succeed, at Motown or somewhere else. She was just that good. Let's not forget that the "new" Supremes were successful in no small part because of Jean Terrell. Had Jean had to stand on a stage alone, I don't think anyone would have thought "That chick is cool, but she needs two other ladies up there with her". When she was getting those standing ovations for her solo within the act, she apparently didn't need Mary and Cindy then either.

    As for Jean on A&M, until she actually comes out and tells us what was going on, we'll never know what that was all about. Rumors abound about the Supremes. Not all of it is fact.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post

    as a stage performer, i'm not sure Jean was ready for a solo presentation in 1970. her stage presence was quite reserved and to be totally alone up on a stage and having to handle everything might have been too much. at least within the Supremes, she had M and C on stage with her to add to things. the stage act was redone to be less of a lead with 2 bg girls WAAAAYYYY back lol.

    being relatively new to the stage, being part of group allowed her begin to explore, test and learn.
    Sup, Motown has conditioned you to believe this was the normal way of making stars. So many stars hit the stage and ran straight to success without grooming and whatever preparedness we think someone might need. There was usually no artist development classes for the tons of other stars who existed at the time. And it seems like the J5 might have been the last of the Motown acts to get any type of "grooming" [[within Motown, of course Papa Joe had already readied his boys for the stage before they even got to Motown), and certainly not what the Supremes, Tempts, Martha and the V's, etc got back in Detroit.

    All stage acts were structured around the act. So Jean would not have had to come in doing all the stuff Diana did, or Aretha, or Dionne, etc. Aretha didn't always do a ton of talking like Diana did. She'd introduce a number, maybe make a quick quip and then do what people paid to see and hear. I imagine Jean would have had a similar act, in that she wouldn't have done a bunch of witty jokes and stories. The music would've been the center of everything, which is different from Diana, whose brilliance shown in her ability to work the stage music on or off.

  24. #24
    Aretha certainly did not make any attempts to do a "Diana Ross" stage show. but she still ran her show. she casually interacted with the audience, she was in charge. her personality was obviously much more laid back, more earthy. more soul. but it was still ARETHA's show.

    jean might have had a powerful, soulful voice but she was more reserved that aretha. IMO jean just wasn't quite there to command a stage yet. or at least a Frontier Hotel or Copa stage. maybe smaller venues first to get her going

  25. #25
    Agreed, Jean comes across reserved, but I don't think audiences would've cared about that. I've heard more complaints from people about the amount of talking singers have done at shows than I've ever heard about the actual singing. 99 percent of concert goers [[at the time, I suspect) wouldn't have cared if these people didn't say a mumbling word in between songs. They wanted to hear singing. When Jean does talk during Supremes shows, she sounds very sweet. I imagine whatever stage patter she might have had as a solo would've played to that.

  26. #26
    part of the problem is the different venues the Supremes played.

    they made too much money at Flamingo or Waldorf to NOT continue doing those shows. And that's where you need that more cabaret approach and that's where more of the audience interaction and talking comes in.

    by 70, college dates and concerts geared more to youth were emerging. sure there had been college dates prior but they were college formals or special shows on campus. and they weren't big ticket events like Copa or Flamingo. that changed as rock expanded and you started doing more and more stadium events and convention halls, things like that.

    in these rock shows, you're right. you don't need lots of dialog. the hokey jokes are not relevant. you sing your hits and some album tracks and then a smidge of other content.

    But these weren't really the primary focus of the supremes or even motown. stevie Wonder got on the Rolling Stones tour outside of motown. and then he played [[as the opening act) all of these big stadiums.

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