Margo Thunder - R&B 101

Margo Thunder
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Margo Thunder was all of 13-years old when she released the song "Soul of a Woman." Listeners usually say a few things when a 13-year old child gets a hold of a tune like "Soul of a Woman." They’ll ask what does that child know about being a woman. Then they’ll want to know where her mother was and why she let that child sing a grown woman’s song. Thunder’s mom was a major influence and constant presence in the lives of all of her children, but we’ll get into that later. Once those listeners heard the young Margo take hold of the song, a lot of listeners will have a hard time believing that such a mature sound can come from the mouth of a child. I listened to the tune on YouTube, and it sounded vaguely familiar. I will say this: after listening to the 1974 cut, I can understand the decision to forego Tiger Beat pop and let Thunder sing for the grown folks.

Margo Thunder was all of 13-years old when she released the song "Soul of a Woman." Listeners usually say a few things when a 13-year old child gets a hold of a tune like "Soul of a Woman." They’ll ask what does that child know about being a woman. Then they’ll want to know where her mother was and why she let that child sing a grown woman’s song. Thunder’s mom was a major influence and constant presence in the lives of all of her children, but we’ll get into that later. Once those listeners heard the young Margo take hold of the song, a lot of listeners will have a hard time believing that such a mature sound can come from the mouth of a child. I listened to the tune on YouTube, and it sounded vaguely familiar. I will say this: after listening to the 1974 cut, I can understand the decision to forego Tiger Beat pop and let Thunder sing for the grown folks.

That mature sound got Thunder a lot of work in an era when folks viewed sounding like a grown woman as a pop music asset. Thunder’s auditory instrument kept her busy both as a solo artist and as a member of the R&B trio 9.9. Working with the late Richard "Dimples" Fields, 9.9 released an album that included the hit single "All of Me." I definitely remembered that jam from my college days. However, label politics and the fact that two members of the group decided to embark on different paths caused 9.9 to dissolve. Now, a quarter century later, Thunder returns with the record R&B 101, her first full album as a solo artist.

After a generation in the business, Thunder’s life experiences match her seasoned vocal skills. Her performance is notable for displaying a veteran’s ability to operate on a variety of thematic and stylistic platforms. She can sing a song such as "1 of 9," which is a tribute to the lady who encouraged Thunder’s musical gifts while also raising nine children. Thunder’s mother passed away, but "1 of 9" is not a sad record. Rather, it"1 of 9" is an uplifting tune in which the singer expresses amazement in how her mother did it. Thunder sticks with the anthems on the soulful jam “Mistreated.” There, Thunder plays the role of counselor and confidant encouraging females to stop being a doormat. Thunder flips the script on the funky number “Did You Wrong.” This track tells the story of how a woman’s boasts about her man’s sexual prowess aroused her girlfriend’s curiosity and resulted in betrayal.

R&B 101 features a trio of ballads that find Thunder – true to the album’s title – exploring the fundamentals of the genre. "Someone Like You" is a jazz influenced number that sports a memorable hook and some nice harmonies. "With Open Arms" is a modern R&B jam that sports lyrics that manage the balance between tasteful sensuality and eroticism. Thunder revisits her past with a remake of the Peabo Bryson classic "Feel the Fire." Thunder was known for singing the tune as an up and coming talent in Boston, and its addition on R&B 101 will bring smiles to long time fans.

Years after she wowed audiences with her take on "Soul of a Woman," Margo Thunder is returning to her powerful soul roots. Thunder said that she envisioned R&B 101 as a back- to- basics R&B record. She covers the territory that fans expect a soul singer to be able to handle, and even creeps into the new school on the opening track "Back in Da Spotlight.” This fun dance record fuses Thunder’s mature vocals with contemporary production techniques, and shows that this vocalist has a few new arrows in her musical quiver. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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