Ann Byers

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Ann Byers, a singer from North Philly, is virtually unknown outside of the City of Brotherly Love. Her singles on small Philly labels rarely escaped the city limits; if it hadn't been for compact disc…
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Ann Byers, a singer from North Philly, is virtually unknown outside of the City of Brotherly Love. Her singles on small Philly labels rarely escaped the city limits; if it hadn't been for compact disc reissues of obscure Philly tracks, only the most encyclopedic record collectors would know of her. What's interesting about these obscure Philly releases is the names that pop up on the credits as songwriters, producers, and arrangers -- people who later achieved fame on bigger, better-financed Philly labels.

Phil Hurtt, in part, wrote Byers' first four releases; Hurtt's "I'll Be Around" revived the Spinners' career in the early '70s. He later became an important cog with the Village People. However, "Natural Feeling" b/w "Was It Worth the Pain," both compliments of Hurtt and Fred Smith, failed to chart in 1963-1964 for Lyric Records, who credited the record to Anne Buyers. "Dead End," another Hurtt/Smith effort on Academy Records (1964), had potential but faltered because of finances; after recording acts, Academy had little left for promotion. Two more Academy releases -- "If You Want to Keep Your Man" and "I'm Happy Without You" -- issued in 1965 and 1966, respectively, are dead ringers for the sound Motown created for Mary Wells and the Lovetones. Byers sounded like Wells, but sang a bit higher. Her career took a hit when Academy folded in 1967 with unreleased Byers tracks in the can.

She surfaced on Harthon (then Cougar Records) in 1969, but didn't record again until 1973 when Virtue Records credited two Donald Hogan ("When We Get Married") songs, "Cookies n' Candy" b/w "Blues for a Young Girl," to Ann Byers With the Creations. The Creations included David Ebo and Lloyd Parks (Parks sang with Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, as did Ebo, who replaced Teddy Pendergrass). In 1974, Virtue released "This Man Is Rated X," composed by Leroy Green and Norman Harris, but it only teased at success. A final Virtue single, "If You Can't Stand the Heat Get out the Kitchen," seems an appropriate ending to Byers' less-than-successful career. One can find her singles on many compilations, including The Northern Soul of Philadelphia, Vol. 1 and Philly Soul Girls, Vol. 1.