Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Barbara McNair

Here I Am, Baby

First recorded by Barbara McNair (1966).
Hit version by The Marvelettes (US #44/R&B #14 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Here I Am, Baby’ was written by Smokey Robinson in 1967 for actress and singer Barbara McNair (‘For Once in My Life‘). It was the title track of her album Here I Am. McNair’s big career break had come in the late 1950s with a win on Arthur Godfrey’s TV show Talent Scouts, which led to bookings at The Purple Onion and the Cocoanut Grove. She soon became one of the country’s most popular headliners and a guest on such television variety shows as The Steve Allen Show, Hullabaloo, The Bell Telephone Hour, and The Hollywood Palace, while recording for the Coral, Signature, Motown, and other labels. But, she became best-known as a TV actress guesting on series such as Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, I Spy, Mission: Impossible, Hogan’s Heroes and McMillan and Wife.

For Once in My Life

First recorded (as a demo) in 1965 and first released by Jean DuShon (Oct 1966).
Also recorded by Connie Haines (1965), Barbara McNair (released Nov 1966), The Four Tops (1967), The Temptations (1967).
Hit versions by Tony Bennett (US #91/EZ #8 1967), Stevie Wonder (US #2/R&B #2 1968).

From the wiki: “‘For Once in My Life’, written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden, was originally recorded by Jean DuShon, tapped by Miller to demo ‘For Once in My Life’ as he was ‘fine-tuning’ the composition. Miller was so impressed by DuShon’s rendition he released her recording as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label in 1966.

“Motown CEO Berry Gordy found out that Miller, a Motown staff writer, had given the song to an outside artist. Gordy had Miller immediately make the song available for Motown artist Connie Haines, who recorded the first version of the song at the label in July 1965 and, then, Barbara McNair to record (in 1966) and, later, for the Four Tops, the Temptations and, later, Stevie Wonder to record.

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