Hortense Ellis - Woman of the Ghetto

click on image to enlarge...

Hortense Ellis - Woman of the Ghetto (M. Shaw/B.Miller/R.Evans)

Impact All Stars - Woman of the Ghetto version (C.Chin)

Impact US reissue, original 1973
Produced by Clive Chin for Above Rock, matrix RRS 2096, reissue distributed by Jammyland
Also released on Demon (JA), Tropical AL020 (UK) and Hot Shot (US)

Born in Trenchtown, Kingston in 1941, as sister to the great Alton Ellis. At age 18, she made her first appearance on Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, where she performed I'm Not Saying No At All by Franky Limon. She continued singing in the sixties and recorded Eddie My Love for Coxsone Dodd (1961), Midnight for Duke Reid (1962), and I Shall Sing, Hell and Sorrow and Brown Girl in the Rain for Ken Lack. For Coxsone's Studio One she also did I'll Come Softly, I Am In Love, Twelve Minutes to Go and I'm Just a Girl (Alton's hit I'm Just A Guy). In 1969 she joined Byron Lee's Dragonaires, and the following year she left for a tour with Alton in Canada. After returning to Jamaica, she married Mikey Saunders and became mother of five children. In the seventies, she recorded extensively with Bunny Lee, under alias of Queen Tiney, she did Down Town Thing, and Natty Dread Time. Under the alias of Mahalia Saunders, she cut several sides for Lee Perry, including Right On The Tip Of My Tongue and Piece Of My Heart. Here, Hortense versions the funky soul classic Woman of the Ghetto by Marlena Shaw (original 1969 on Cadet/Chess), the only recording on Clive Chin's Impact label known to me. The same tune was already done by Phyllis Dillon in 1971, and later, in 1979, by Kim Harriot (on the Crystal label). In the seventies she also recut many of her studio one sides with other producers: Sitting in the Park (already recorded earlier at Studio One by her brother Alton) for Martin Williams and Secretly for Dudley"Manzie" Swaby. In addition, she was also recording with Soul Syndicate and the up and coming team of Sly & Robbie. In 1976, she scored her big hit Unexpected Places for producer Gussie Clark's Gussie label (in the UK released on Hawkeye). The Lovers Rock genre became rather popular at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties, and Hortense cut several cover versions of popular soul classics such as Down the Aisle by Patti Labelle and Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton (1979). After divorcing Mikey Saunders, she spend much of the eighties in Brooklyn and Miami. On returning to Jamaica again, she fell ill and passed away in the Kingston Public Hospital in 2000, aged just 59. For more info check http://hortense-ellis.com/.