Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the legendary Sweethearts of Soul.... At long last the Rock and Soul Foundation is honoring Ruth Thomas, Adeline Lights, Venus Jones and Brenda Wade with a place in its hall of fame. So music reporter Legs Diamond gets the assignment to interview the members of the group. And what a story she hears––from their start singing gospel to their fame and fortune in the 1960s and after.
This is a witty, big–hearted, and irresistible story as only the incomparable Evelyn "Slim" Lambright can tell it.
About the Author
Evelyn "Slim" Lambright, in her own words, says, "I've been a waitress, a bartender, a go-go-dancer, a model, a singer, and a numbers runner, among other things, and am now employed freelance, but the less said about that, the better." She is the author of The Justus Girls, and she lives in Philadelphia.
Read an Excerpt
The Sweethearts of Soul
By Evelyn 'Slim' Lambright
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Evelyn 'Slim' Lambright
All right reserved.
"So what yall gone do? Are you with me on this or not? This Diamond broad say she want to talk to all the Sweetheart of Soul, not just me. She want to interview everybody."
Ruth Thomas leaned forward quickly, smashing out her Kool cigarette in the ashtray, narrowing her eyes as she looked first at Addie, then Venus, then Addie again. The two women stared blankly back at her.
"I swear to God, yall just don't wanna see me catch break, no how, no way, do you?"
Ruth was glaring at Addie and Venus now.
"Ain't nobody say nothin bout tryin to keep you from catchin no break, if that's what you callin it. From what she said to me, all the woman want to do is talk to us about the old days, how it used to be, all that tired ole stuff. Hell she can get that from the bio the record company keeps on file. I don't see why I got to interrupt my busy schedule just to go strollin down memory lane with her. The past is the past. Let it lay. I'm livin in the present, in the here and now.
Adeline Lights spoke slowly and casually as she stirred her tea, but her face betrayed her tone. Her dark eyes, the left one shining wickedly, were backlit and gleaming, and her mouth had twisted to the side, giving her an insolent, almost petulant, expression.
"Well, it does have somethin to do with the award and all, Ad," Venus Jones, the third member of the group, spoke up. "I mean, we never got an award before, and this seems to be a really big deal, and the publicity would be nice for us."
"Publicity would be nice for who? I don't need no damn publicity. I already got my own business, and Busy Bee Realty don't hardly need that kinda publicity. I'm doin very well these days, thank you, and Venus, you got your bridal shop and your rental property. You doin all right. What we need publicity for?" Addie, a satisfied smirk on her face, was talking loud enough for some of the customers at Gustine's Diner to glance over in their direction.
So there they were. The Sweethearts of Soul, together again. Well, three of them at least.
The women silently checked each other out. Now in their mid-forties, the Sweethearts were holding up well.
"Ruthless" Ruth Thomas, still slender, was wearing her trademark street "uniform," consisting of black jeans and turtleneck under an oversized black leather bomber jacket She was hatless as usual, her hair pulled back tightly into a sleek dark knot at the nape of her neck, her only jewelry a pair of large golden hoop earrings. A vision in black, she was, but for her bright-red high-top leather Reeboks.
Pretty, plumpish, and practical, Venus Jones was dressed on this cold Philadelphia afternoon, in a sensible beige heavy wool coat, which she had removed and carefully hung up a soon as she had entered the diner. She wore a cream-colored cashmere sweater and matching woolen slacks under one of her ever-present "working smocks," this one a bright pink, with "Gowns by Venus" brightly emblazoned in fancy gold script across the back. Soft auburn bangs peeped out from under her dark-brown beret, which perfectly matched hei suede gloves and flat brown suede booties.
And finally, Adeline Lights. Last, but never, ever, least Addie had what people called "a way about her," a certain style that all but screamed "I am the shit, and you better know it" to any and all who came near her. Today, Adeline was swathed in a full-length dyed blond ranch mink coat with matching hat, which she kept primping and adjust ing, as if it were her hair. Under the hat, the hair -- blond and straight, bought and paid for, thank you very much flowed down to her shoulders, where it rested uneasily.
Beneath all that, Addie was wearing an ankle-length blood-red sweater dress, the same color as her lipstick and Dragon Lady press-on nails. There were rings on almost every finger (and probably bells on her toes), and when Addie moved her hands, the sound of jangling bracelets accompanied her every gesture like a band of triangle-playing monkeys. Adeline Lights definitely had a way about her.
"So, Ruthie, how's the show business comin along? Addie asked pleasantly, all the while kicking Venus under the table.
Ruthie dropped her head and bit her bottom lip. That fuckin Addie's really twistin the knife in now.
All three knew that what was left unsaid before then was that nobody really needed this story but Ruth.
The Sweethearts of Soul had agreed to meet at Gustine's, a neighborhood diner (neutral ground), at four o'clock this afternoon to discuss whether or not they would be cooperating with Legs Diamond, a reporter from Black Music Magazine who wanted to do an in-depth story on them in association with the girls receiving the Rock and Soul Foundation's Pioneer Award.
Ruth was all for it, Addie was dead-set against it, and Venus, as always, was stuck somewhere in the middle.
"First of all, I ain't never even heard of this Pioneer Award before, and second, I ain't never heard of no damn Legs Diamond, neither. What is she, some kinda gangsta chick or somethin?" Addie sucked her teeth.
"Hell, no, she ain't no damn gangsta. The only reason you don't know is cause you don't keep up with shit in the music industry, noway. Too busy countin your money, I guess," Ruth said sharply.
"Hmph! Better than bein too busy countin my men! Or what's that you call em nowadays? Boy toys? Right! Too busy countin your boy toys!"
"So where's your next big-time gig at, huh? The flea market? The bingo parlor? Oh, no, no, wait a minute! I know, I know! Ladies and gentlemen, coming to you live, straight from the neighborhood crackhouse, Ruthless Ruth Thomas, of the Sweethearts of Soul! Yay, yay, yay!"
Excerpted from The Sweethearts of Soul by Evelyn 'Slim' Lambright Copyright © 2005 by Evelyn 'Slim' Lambright.
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