Santa Claus came a little early for me this year when Eric Iversen sent me a message that Scherrie Payne & Susaye Greene formerly of The Supremes along with Joyce Vincent had just completed a Christmas EP that was available for download.
This all-too-brief set of four Christmas classics was produced by Steve Weaver. Steve does a great job in capturing the talents of all three ladies by supplying elegant backing tracks and emphasizing the great harmonies that these ladies are known for.
Most fans remember that the combination of Scherrie, Susaye and Joyce was the intended group to take the Supremes to a new level in 1977 when founding member Mary Wilson decided to go solo. Motown however scrapped those plans and retired the name. We can only speculate the great recordings we could have gotten back then, but listening to this new EP over 40 years later, one can immediately recognize that all three ladies have lost none of the vocal prowess they have always been known for.
Scherrie gives us two of the four leads. The Christmas Song is always a holiday favorite and Scherrie caresses it with a warm, restrained vocal. Perhaps singing in a slightly lower register, we all remember Scherrie as “The Payne Killer” because of her dynamic and powerful stage and recording vocals. Scherrie still possesses those chops and when listening to this song along with “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” I came away with such a warm feeling. A deeply spiritual lady and loved by her multitude of fans as a genuinely sweet, loving lady, when she wishes everyone a Merry Christmas at the end of that last track, you KNOW she means it. Merry Christmas to you too Ms. Payne. BTW, toward the end of The Christmas Song, listen to those exciting backing vocals.
Susaye Greene is a force of nature, plain and simple. She gives us O Holy Night showcasing that incredible five octave range that she has lost none of through the years. When this song was finished I was so moved by her vocal that I played it again. Susaye can make the hairs on my arms stand up! I have always said that listening to Susaye Greene is as much instruction as it is entertainment; by that I mean her trained, incredible vocal range can show any student of music how it is supposed to be done! All three ladies provide marvelous vocals on these tracks, as one would expect, but Miss Su I’d have to say walks away with the set with this one track. Just incredible music.
It is especially nice to hear a full recorded vocal by Joyce Vincent. You all remember I’m sure all the years she spent as one third of Tony Orlando and Dawn. For whatever reason she wasn’t given as much air or recording time as the other two. She does a great version of Little Drummer Boy with a bit of a twist: Producer Weaver adds Susaye Greene in the background to sort of guide Joyce through the song much like Johnny Bristol did with Diana Ross on Someday We’ll Be Together. Not that Joyce needs guidance of course but the take away I got from it was one legendary Supreme inducting the newest lady into the fold. It was a great idea and it worked well.
Between this great EP and the videos I’ve seen of Scherrie, Susaye and Joyce on stage I’m excited to know that the legend of The Supremes is being carried on. We live in very troubled times and we all have concerns about our future. We may never have security again. We may never have peace again. We may never have tranquility again. But thanks to Steve, Eric, David Kramlick, Scherrie, Susaye and Joyce, we do have The Supremes… Again!