Mable John, the first ever female solo singer signed to Motown Records, has died aged 91.
John was the first woman who record executive Berry Gordy signed at Motown. She later moved to Stax Records in Memphis.
John’s death was announced by the singer’s nephew, Kevin, who told The Detroit News that she had died on Thursday (25 August).
The singer spent her final years helping the homeless through her LA charity.
“We loved her and she was a kind person,” said Kevin, speaking of his aunt’s character.
A cause of death is yet to be announced.
John was born in 1930 in Louisiana. Her family eventually moved to Detroit in 1941 where she grew up.
She was one of nine children, one of whom was the famous R&B singer Little Willie John. John opened for him when he began touring in the Fifties.
Her brother died in 1968. His sons went on to become musicians too; Keith John is now a backing singer for Stevie Wonder.
John released her first ever record Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That under Motown (then Tamla) in 1960.
In 1966, she signed to Stax Records, stating that she made the decision to move because Motown was moving further into the pop genre. The singer, however, remained good friends with Motown label executive Berry Gordy.
Throughout the years, John has gone on the road with Ray Charles, and played on the same bill as Billie Holiday, who she claimed warned her off narcotics.