"Mable John From The Beginning"
What does a lady from
Louisiana do to let the world know that she is alive? Especially when
that young lady had a world famous brother. Well, if your name is Mable John, you just be yourself and do what is natural. That is the essence of Mable John, herself, naturally. Personable, affable and
universally loved and respected. For more than forty years a professional singer and she was the director of the Raelettes. That meant working with the genius himself, Mr. Ray Charles. Also, that meant doing a
labor of love.
Mable and Ray have been friends and admirers of each other for a long time. Mable and her family moved from
Louisiana to Detroit, Michigan. There Mable met and became friends with Mrs.
Bertha Gordy, mother of the founder and owner of the Motown Record Corporation, Berry Gordy. Mrs. Gordy hired Mable
as a secretary at the Friendship Mutual Insurance Company as a result of their friendship.
But Mable had decided on a musical career as a singer. She was the first female, single artist, signed to Motown on the Tamla label. Later she recorded for other companies, among them, the Stax Group out of
Memphis, Tenn. When Mable embarked on her singing career, she received and heeded a bit of advice from her already famous brother, the late great Little Willie John, "Either be a star or pack your bags and
go home." She is a star. Mable performed as a solo artist for seventeen years before joining Ray Charles and becoming director of the Raelettes. At the same time Mable organized her own business, Fourth
House Music, a publishing company and talent management agency.
During her long career, Mable has performed with some of the greats of the business, people like the late Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Bill
Doggett, David Newman and of course, Ray Charles. A picture taken at the close of a show at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit depicts Mable with Billie Holiday, with whom
she shared the bill and Berry Gordy.
Billie Holiday's husband liked the photograph and had a ceiling to floor, wall to wall blowup made, which now hangs in the studios of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. The musical dates that she shared with
Billie Holiday had been arranged by Berry Gordy. A major part of the show business world is public relations, how to sell yourself, Mable says she learned that from Mrs. Bertha Gordy. She evidently learned it
well, because her ability to relate to audiences exmplifies her early training. At home, Mable has four sons, of whom three are deceased within the past two years. Two of her sons, Joel and Limuel, had launched
the own show business careers, also serving as Executive Vice Presidents of her publishing companies.