Soul singer Barbara Acklin was born Barbara Jean Acklin on 2/28/1942 in Oakland, California. Her family moved to Chicago, Illinois where Barbara started singing in church as a teenager. Her first record
was under the name of Barbara Allen. Her big break came when she convinced Jackie Wilson to record her song “Whispers (Getting Louder)”. Barbara then signed with Wilson’s Brunswick recording company and the rest is history. Moving on to Capital Records in 1974, she recorded her last album in 1975. Barbara had one Top 40 hit with her R&B/Soul song “Love Makes A Woman” which reached #15. She had 6 Top 40 R&B Hit Songs. Barbara co-wrote “Have You Seen Her” (#3 Top 40) & “Oh Girl” (#1 Top 40) with then husband Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites. Barbara died of pneumonia on 11/27/1998.
Other Barbara Acklin Hit Songs include: “Show Me The Way to Go”, “Am I The Same Girl”, “I’ll Bake Me A Man”, “Just Ain’t No Love”, “To Sir With Love”, “From The Teacher To The Preacher”, “After You”, “I Call It Trouble”, “Stop, Look And Listen”, “Fool Fool Fool”, “I Did It”, “Someone Else’s Arms”, “Yes I See The Love”, “Be By My Side”, “Make The Man Love You”, “Portrait For A Broken Heart”, “You’ve Been In Love Too Long”, “Lady Lady Lady”, “Little Green Apples” and “It’s A Groovy Idea.”
Acklin’s Early Days
Born in Oakland, California on February 28, 1943, Barbara Jean Acklin was an American soul singer and songwriter recognized by her R&B/pop single,” “Love Makes A Woman” in 1968, noted as her biggest hit. The only daughter of Herman and Hazel Acklin, 11-year old Acklin had her first singing performance as a regular soloist in Big Zion Baptist Church in Chicago Illinois where they resided in 1948. When Acklin reached adolescence, she started singing at nightclubs of Chicago and at the same time studied in Dunbar Vocational High School. After finishing vocational school, she was immediately hired as a secretary by her cousin, Monk Higgins (also a saxophonist) who worked as a producer for the local label, St. Lawrence Records. Acklin also collaborated with Higgins in some of his recording sessions as a back-up vocals, specifically in Chess Record sessions.
In 1966, Acklin submitted demo recordings at the Chicago office of Brunswick Records, where she was also a receptionist. Since Acklin was still dreaming to become a recording star, she incessantly asked Brunswick’s producer Carl Davis to record her demo. Carl didn’t refuse but otherwise gave an advice to Acklin to focus in songwriting. “Whispers (Gettin Loud)” which Acklin co-wrote with David Scott became Jackie Wilson’s (also known as Mr. Excitement) biggest hit. The track reached #5 on the Billboard R&B chart and #11 on the Hot 100.
Acklin’s Recording and Songwriting Career
With the help of Wilson, Acklin finally entered the recording studio. In 1968 she released her first album under Brunswick, Love Makes a Woman which included “Show Me The Way To Go” (a duet with Gene Chandler). It became a hit on the R&B singles chart at #30. The album also featured the title track, which became the biggest hit of her career. It peaked at #15 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and #3 on the R&B chart in that same year.
She still kept herself busy writing songs. Acklin also had a chance to work with one of the Brunswick artists, Eugene Record the lead singer of The Chi-Lites who eventually got married to Acklin.
In 1969, Acklin released her second album, Seven Days Of Night along with singles “Just Ain’t No Love” and “Am I The Same Girl” (later popularized by Dusty Springfield and The Swing Out Sisters). Later the same year, she came up with the single “After You” released her third album, Someone Else’s Arms in 1970. Acklin had a total of five albums of her entire career which include the last two albums, I Did It (1971) and I Call It Trouble (1973).
Acklin and Record’s unity in songwriting became a success. The 5-minute track “Have You Seen Her” which was the last track from The Chi-Lites’ record (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People, was in heavy rotation on soul stations. It climbed up to #1 spot on the R&B chart and #3 on the US Pop chart and also made the UK Top Ten twice (#3 in 1972 and #5 in 1975). It was followed up by three big hits co-written by Record and Acklin, “Stoned Out of My Mind” (#2 on R&B chart, 1973), “Toby” (#7 in R&B chart, 1974) and “Too Good To Be Forgotten” (#10 on UK chart, 1975).
After working under Brunswick, she moved to Capitol Records in 1974 and released the single “Raindrops” which she co-wrote with then-Brunswick producer, Willie Henderson. The song was her biggest hit to date — it stayed on the R&B chart for six years in #14 spot. Acklin released the album A Place In The Sun afterwards.
In 1998, Acklin was already living in Omaha, Nebraska and also about to work on a new album she was so excited about. Days after the phone interview regarding the album with Chicago cable TV host, Royce Glamour, she was rushed to the hospital and claimed by pneumonia. She was 55. Acklin left behind two beautiful offsprings, Marcus White and Samotta McKeever and godson Elliot Myrick.