Norma Jenkins

Norma Jenkins is an American soul singer who was active between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. She first appeared as the frontwoman for Norma Jenkins and the Dolls on the single “The Airplane Song,” released in 1966 on Detroit’s Maltese label. Several more singles followed on various labels over the next seven years.

Contracted to Buddah Records’ imprint Desert Moon in 1975, she released the uptempo, 2/4 brass-belter “Gimme Some (Of Your Love),” which would subsequently appear on her lone album. Released in 1976 with vocal backing from The Ellington Sisters, Patience Is a Virtue  shows the singer up close on the cover amidst a beaming, blue strobe light that illuminates the dark, heady dance-floor drama of the age.

Power strings in B open “I Fooled You (Didn’t I),” which quickly drops five steps as the singer lays down a litany of charges amidst a third-down hi-hat slide. Shivery strings loom from behind Jenkins and the sisters during each call-and-response of the chorus line.

The mid-tempo, B-flat tonal center of “Reachin’ Out in Darkness” allows the singer to explore her range with sonorous command. From the words “call” to “light,” Jenkins elongates each verse-ending vowel with voluminous intensity. In the background, light licks and subtle stings are faintly heard under a dominant, chromatic bassline.

The initially humble “It’s All Over Now” takes charge with a swelling chorus that dramatically changes keys as she belts “I learned how to smile without trying.” Bravado fortifies as the sisters coo “just stop and think about that” at the refrain.

A tender piano/string intro in E-flat forwards the earnest declarations of “I Did It for Real,” where the singer states her intention to follow through on where love has led.

Slow bass/piano conjures an after-hours vibe on “Love Jones,” where minutes of restrained, bendy licks slide gently amidst the G–F progression. The singer ultimately enters at 3:10 to reconcile lust with faith.

Not much was heard from Jenkins after her one LP, though she did briefly record with the P-Funk All Stars ‎on their 1983 release Urban Dancefloor Guerillas, on which she is credited as Norman Jean Jenkins.

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