Kellee PATTERSON 1973

Born in the midwest just outside Chicago, Kellee Patterson grew up in Gary, Indiana. The stunningly beautiful youngster was equally talented. She began winning talent contests at the tender age of five and often found herself in competetion with Gary neighbors, The Jackson Five. At many of these local contests Michael and his siblings would win the boys portion while Kellee took home the girls prize. These contests led to her singing professionally by the age of sixteen. After finishing high school Kellee enrolled in a local college. While in college Kellee was asked to front a rock/pop band. "Groovy & The Electras" played school gigs and local pubs mainly doing covers of current hit songs. Kellee was often hailed for her renditions of Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin hits. Upon graduation from college Kellee entered the "Indiana State Miss America Pageant." To no ones surprise she won the 1971 title and at the National level won the "Special Talent Award."

This led to recording offers from all the labels. After fielding offers from Motown she chose Gene Russell's Black Jazz Records label. The label boasted some of the most artistic and talented people of the day. Their roster included Doug Carn and wife, future disco star Jean Carn, and Rudolph Johnson and The Awakening among others. Her sole output for the label was an album entitled "Maiden Voyage". Her cover of the Herbie Hancock classic was lauded for it's innovative delivery but failed to ignite a sales fire. After Russell decided to close the label's door and turn Black Jazz into a production business he then persuaded Patterson to sign with Shadybrook Records. Her tenure with Shadybrook was prolific in her brief recording career and more importantly, rewarding. Her first album, "Kellee" contained cover versions of popular hits most notably a cool jazz version of Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby". Her second album "Be Happy" was released in 1977 and the first single, "If It Don't Fit, Don't Force It" was an instant success. Earning her a gold record and awards as the "Most Promising Female Singer" by Cashbox and Record World magazines. The album also featured "Movin' In The Right Direction" a song that Stephanie Mills had recorded a year earlier and "Turn On The Lights" her first 12" single. The faltering label seemed plagued by poor management and lack of promotional skills. Kellee didn't resurface again until 1979 with her biggest and final track for the label. The 12" single "Let Go, Let Go (Let Love Be The Driver)" was and is still a highly sought after collector's item. It's rumored that Kellee tried her hand at acting in the late 1970's in a U.K. film entitled "Demolition Man" (NOT the Sly Stallone pic) with Jimmy Helms, but I have been unable to substantiate this.
After the disco-era Kellee seems to have disappeared, perhaps she settled down and got married? Perhaps she moved abroad and continued her career? The final piece of information on her is that her Shadybrook album was re-released in 1996 in the U.K. and featured a bonus track of the Barry White tune "I'm Gonna Love You A Little More, Baby" which became a cult hit.


Kellee Patterson's first album ever -a rare jazz-oriented session that's quite different from her later soul sides! The album includes a stellar version of Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage", plus other nice ones like "Soul Daddy", "Be All Your Own", "See You Later", and "Look At The Child". Backing's by a group that doesn't include the usual Black Jazz musicians, but which was put together by Gene Russell, who also produced the session. Great stuff, with a righteous soul jazz sound that makes it one of the best albums on the Black Jazz label!

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