Jackie Ross

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Chicago-based '60s soul diva, best remembered for her hit single "Selfish One."
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A talented vocalist whose warm, strong sound recalled such Motown stars as Diana Ross and Mary Wells, Chicago soul diva Jackie Ross was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 30, 1946. The daughter of husband-and-wife preachers, she made her performing debut on her parents' radio gospel show at the age of three. Following her father's 1954 death, the family relocated to the Windy City; there the legendary Sam Cooke, a friend of her mother, recruited Ross for his SAR label, where she issued her debut single, "Hard Times," in 1962. Following a stint singing with Syl Johnson's band, she signed to Chess Records, making her label bow with 1964's "Selfish One." The single fell just shy of the Billboard pop Top Ten, and Ross soon issued a follow-up, "I've Got the Skill," as well as an album, Full Bloom. The superb "Take Me for a Little While" followed in 1965. Unbeknownst to Ross, however, the same song had been recently recorded by New York singer Evie Sands as well, and although Sands' version for Blue Cat actually came first, Chess' marketing muscle nevertheless ensured that their label's rendition proved more successful. Ross's disgust with the situation, combined with the negligible royalties she received from "Selfish One," soon prompted her to exit Chess, and in 1967 she landed at Brunswick. Two years later, she moved to Jerry Butler's Fountain Productions, but failed to recapture her earlier commercial success. In 1981, Ross released an album in tandem with Little Milton, In Perspective. By this time, several of Ross's sides from the '60s had been rediscovered by DJs and record collectors on the Northern Soul scene in the UK, and she would go on to cut a new version of "Selfish One" produced by onetime Wigan Casino disc jockey Ian Levine. This led to reissues of Ross's work in the UK, but her career remained static at home, and she returned to singing gospel music in Chicago churches. In 2017, the collectors label Black Tulip released a career-spanning collection, Selfish One.