Known affectionately as "Lady Love" (also the title of a 1973 charted album), Barbara Mason has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as one of Philadelphia's prime purveyors of song. From the teen angst of her classic "Yes I'm Ready" to the time-worn complexities of a love triangle expressed through the lyrics of "From His Woman To You," her 1974 pop and R&B hit, Barbara has always found favor with the record-buying public thanks to her ability to explore the eternal theme of relationships, good, bad and in between.
Originally attracted to music as a result of 'tinkling' on her grandmother's piano, Barbara formed a number of vocal groups while in her early teens, acting as both lead singer and accompanist. A neighbor, Weldon McDougal III was a member of The Larks, a popular vocal group of the day, and impressed with her talent, he invited her to perform on local shows with the group. It was McDougal who introduced Barbara to Jimmy Bishop, one of Philly's most popular disc-jockeys and as a result, she recorded her first single, "Trouble Child" for the local Crusader label.
A move to Arctic Records proved fortuitous: while her initial 45 for the label ("Girls Have Feelings Too") achieved a modicum of success, it was Barbara's self-penned tale of anticipation from innocent teen to full-grown woman that captured the attention of music lovers nationwide. "Yes I'm Ready" not only established Barbara as a consistent chartmaker but became her signature tune, subsequently recorded by other major artists including K.C. (of Sunshine Band fame) and Teri De Sario, Gladys Knight & The Pips and Carla Thomas. Worth noting: some of the participants on that original "Yes I'm Ready" session included a teenage Kenny Gamble, musicians Bobby Eli, Roland Chambers, Jack Faith and Earl Young, all key players in what would become known as the "Philly Sound."
After a couple of notable Arctic hits including "Oh How It Hurts," Barbara spent the better part of the next five years with Buddah Records achieving success with "Bed And Board," Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love," the afore-mentioned "His Woman To You," (an 'answer' song to Shirley Brown's 1974 hit "Woman To Woman") and "Shackin' Up." A brief stint with Curtom Records was followed by a return to the R&B charts in 1978 with "I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife" and continuing the theme of the twists and turns in personal relationships, Barbara scored another hit with "She's Got The Papers (But I Got The Man)" in 1981. A single for the dance music label, West End stoked some controversy: "Another Man" wove the tale of a woman who loses her man to...another man! Popular in Europe in particular, the song kept Barbara's name active among music buyers who appreciated the truth and honesty in the lyrical themes that Barbara has recorded since she started out in the '60s.
Active as a performer whose appearance on a PBS rhythm-and-blues special a few years back was undoubtedly one of the show's highlights. Barbara Mason's legacy of "tell-it-like-it-is" recordings is much-treasured by soul music lovers the world over.
Contributed by David Nathan
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