Dianne Brooks

Dianne Brooks (Jan. 3, 1939 — April 29, 2005) was an American jazz and soul singer who was active from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Following a pair of late-’60s singles, she issued two albums during the 1970s.

In 1957, the Jersey native launched her career as part of doo-wop act The Three Playmates, which also included her sister Gwen. After the foursome issued a pair of 1958 singles, Brooks kept a low profile until resurfacing as a solo artist with 1967’s “In My Heart” on Verve Folkways.

In 1969, Brooks cut “Walking On My Mind” for Tangerine Records. With its alternately tender/melodramatic emotional dynamics and string-swept mid-section, the song became a twice-issued success. The following year, Canadian label Revolver issued her first longplayer, Some Other Kind of Soul.

With newfound Toronto contacts, Brooks talents were enlisted by numerous north-of-the-border acts, including Keith Hampshire, Pierre Lalonde, Anne Murray, Bill Amesbury, and Gino Vannelli. Meanwhile, she also kept a foot in the U.S. soul-funk scene, appearing on Funkadelic‘s mammoth 1972 release America Eats Its Young.

In 1976, Brooks secured a deal with Reprise Records and released her second album, Back Stairs of My Life. Aided by the tingly taps and liquidy licks of guitarist Wah Wah Watson, “99 Miles From L.A.” hits the floor on Fmaj7 with strobe lights and mirror balls aglitter. Locking choruses with guest-vocalist Anne Murray, Brooks’ wavering mezzo dances along an assortment of key centers before settling on an anticipatory C-minor/Cmaj7 tonal pattern.

On the self-penned “Brown Skin Rose,” Brooks swells with unconditional love for her little one over the sparse, quiet echo of strings and grand piano. Elsewhere, the becalmed, string-vented Rhodes-floater “Kinky Love” hears the singer express her sensual side to an aloof love interest.

Facing the day in the wake of heartache, “This Morning the Blues” slowly develops from an initial vocal nakedness to a twang-seared, tom-powered showcase for the singer’s resolve. The album also includes a stately, clavinet-driven cover of Stevie Wonder‘s “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” and a seductive sing-through of The Eagles’ chestnut “Desperado.”

Brooks subsequently appeared on record with a variety of country, pop, and soul performers, including Bette Midler, Emmylou Harris, Mary Kay Place, Dusty Springfield, and Brenda Russell. She passed in 2005 at age 66 from pulmonary disease. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *