Hailing from Phenix City, AL, Jo Jo Benson (real name: Joseph Hewell) began singing in church as a child and, by the age of 14, was sneaking into clubs to sing on-stage with local bands. Although he toured with Chuck Willis and met such acclaimed artists as B.B. King and Smokey Robinson, it was a recording from 1968, "Lover's Holiday" (a duet with Peggy Scott), that resulted in Benson's first hit single, eventually going gold. The duo would release two more hit singles over the next few years: "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries" and "Soulshake." The pair went their separate ways in 1971, but would eventually briefly reunite in the mid-'80s for a now-forgotten reunion album. Little was heard from Benson until 1999, when he laid down a few traditional soul tracks in a Birmingham studio, resulting in the release Reminiscing in the Jam Zone the same year. The album (which was praised as "among the finest soul albums of the year -- indeed, of the decade" by the Living Blues publication) combined a cappella songs with full-band arrangements with horns to a stark piano/vocal setting, and even included a duet with Scott, "Dark End of the Street." 2001 saw the release of Benson's follow-up, Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha.
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