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Hattie Littles

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  • Died: Detroit, MI
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1980s, 1990s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Hattie Littles had one release on the Gordy label, "Your Wonderful Love," released in January 1963. It was not a hit and received little airplay, although Berry Gordy wrote and produced both sides. Her career lay dormant for several decades, until Ian Levine rediscovered her and brought her to England to record in the '80s. Some singles were released in England. Also, a compilation CD of her work with Levine, The Very Best of Hattie Littles, was released.

Blessed with a full, vibrant, dynamic voice, Littles started singing in her teens at churches and banquets. Her voice became the perfect vehicle for Motown's structured, cute, catchy songs cut an octave higher than the singer's normal range to give the recordings a sense of urgency. Her "big break" came while working at Lee's Sensation Lounge, which sponsored a talent show. After Littles won three times, Motown producer/songwriter Clarence Paul convinced Berry Gordy to sign her to a contract. Mary Wells, the Marvelettes, Barrett Strong, the Contours, the Miracles, and Marvin Gaye had all waxed hits at Motown, and Hattie jumped at the offer. Signed for four years, she recorded ten sides -- only one of which was released (the others remained in the vaults).

Littles only performed her Gordy single once. The night before a Motown tour with Marvin Gaye and others, she sang it at Lee's, probably because Gordy was in the audience. Not once did she do it on the tour with Marvin. Her reason: she hated it! Berry's new sound wasn't her kind of music; she preferred singing blues and bluesy jazz, so instead of promoting her single on tour, she sang tunes by Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Howling Wolf, and Nina Simone. This undoubtedly got back to Berry and may be the reason she had only one release.

After Motown, Littles experienced alcoholism, drugs, and stays at rehabilitation houses. Yet her recollections of Motown are good. She always felt good after hanging at Motown. Just being there, according to Littles, was equal to hours of anger therapy. She lived in Detroit until her death in June of 2000, when she suffered a heart attack.