Sweet on Big Maybelle

Mable Louise Smith was also known by her stage name "Big Maybelle." She was an American R&B singer and pianist. She is best known for her 1956 hit single "Candy." She was born on May 1, 1924 in Jackson, Tennessee. She began her music career singing gospel during her childhood. When she became a teenager she developed an interest in secular music.

Big Maybelle's first professional performances were with the Dave Clark Memphis Band in 1936. During this period she toured with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and Blues. It was an all female ensemble which featured Mable Louise Smith, Tiny Davis. Jackie Glenn, and Mattie Winston. In the early portion of her career he solo recordings featured her birth name Mabel Smith, after signing to King Records in 1947.

By 1952 she had signed with Okeh Records. A producer at the label named Fred Mendelsohn, recommended the stage name "Big Maybelle." Big Maybelle's debut album featured the hit single "Gabbin Blues' Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' b/w One Monkey Don't Stop No Show." The song recorded two years prior to Jerry Lee Lewis's version of the song.

For the remainder of the 1950s she recorded with Savoy Records. She released her biggest single "Candy." Following the release this song she recorded "That's A Pretty Good Love." She performed at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. In 1958 she appeared at the New Port Jazz Festival and made a cameo in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960). She also shared billings with Mahilia Jackson.

Big Maybelle's success declined towards the end of the 1950s although she continued to record and release music throughout the 1960s. Her last hit single was released in 1967 "96 Tears b/w That's Life." The song was originally recorded by Question Mark and the Mysterians. She struggled with drug addiction and other health problems. On January 23, 1972 she died in Cleveland, Ohio. She was survived by her daughter Barbara Smith and several grandchildren. In 1999 she was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2011 she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.


I was introduced to Big Maybelle's music on an episode of The Cosby Show. I am posting the link below. In this scene Clair lip sings "Candy" to Cliff on the couch as he rubs her feet.



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