The Best of Merry Clayton
Sony Legacy Gert Town, Louisiana native and Backup Singer Hall-of-Fame member Merry Clayton released her fi rst ever anthology, The Best of Merry Clayton, on June 25 th . The album’s release correlated with the June 14 th release of Morgan Neville’s documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, a tribute to the capacity of talented backup vocalists, including Clayton, Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, and Táta Vega. Clayton’s well-loved gospel-style vocals have been featured on countless tracks since she fi rst began her recording career in 1962 at only thirteen, when she sang “Who Can I Count On (If I Can’t Count on You)” with Bobby Darin. Only a year later, she recorded the fi rst version of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” on which she was supported by The Blossoms—including Darlene Love. She later went on to record tracks with Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, and most famously, Mick Jagger (“Gimme Shelter”). Though Clayton never saw her solo career take off, The Best Of…boasts an impressive selection of acclaimed tracks. It is clear that she has already made a mark on the history of American music even without her well-deserved recognition. The album kicks off with a gospeled-out, bluesinfused rendition of Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and continues with highlights such as James Taylor’s “Country Road,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” The Doors’ “Tell All the People,” and of course, Jagger’s “Gimme Shelter”. Each song is dripping with rich, powerful voice and praise like only Southern gospel can. Managing to incorporate inventive jazzy undertones and a ‘60s-fl avored pop infl uence, Clayton’s prowess shines on The Best Of… If you ask me, it looks like this queen of soul is showing no signs of stopping—in fact, she may be getting her second wind.