Here’s a clip of no-bullshit, bona-fide Northern soul star Ann Sexton with a 2008 performance of her 1974 single “You’re Losing Me”, originally put out on small label Seventy-7 records. Sexton is yet another link to the recent, and very encouraging, classic soul revival which has seen the recent rise of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Amy Winehouse, Jully Black, Joss Stone, and many others. As a result, Sexton has dusted off some of her material from the classic mid-70s period, found now to be just what the crowds are after.
Not to be confused with the Massachusetts poet of the same name, our Ann Sexton was an obscure artist in her home country, made into a name on the British Northern Soul scene like so many others. Even though she remained inactive as a performing musician since the 1970s, a resurgence in popularity found Sexton featured at a 2007 Baltic Soul Weekender festival in Germany where she was greeted with great enthusiasm. The clip above is taken from an appearance at the very same festival the next year.
Sexton is a proponent of one of my favourite sub-genres of classic soul music – Southern soul. In Sexton’s case, her popularity in the 70s Northern Soul scene in Britain is kind of ironic. Of course, that ‘North’ refers not to the Mason-Dixon line, but rather to to clubs in the North of England where otherwise obscure soul singles were played by local DJs and made popular as dance music. It remains to be something of a trend that British music scenes tend fill the role of curator of the best in American music, in some cases music which has gone unnoticed or remains to be underappreciated in America itself.
Much like the work of similar soul singers like Ann Peebles and Candi Staton, you can smell the sweat off of this kind of music. Sexton kicks it with this tune, the sound of a woman who knows what she wants, what she doesn’t want, and isn’t afraid to say so. There is a certain toughness to this kind of music, which to me is better testament to female empowerment than in any “I Am Woman” anthems of the era.
For more biographical information about Ann Sexton, check out Soulwalking.co.uk.