Doris Troy

Doris Troy
Background information
Birth name Doris Elaine Higginsen
Also known as Doris Payne
Born (1937-01-06)January 6, 1937
Origin The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died February 16, 2004(2004-02-16) (aged 67)
Genres R&B
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1950-1981
Labels Apple, Atlantic, People
Associated acts Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick, Barbara Lewis

Doris Troy (born Doris Elaine Higginsen; January 6, 1937 – February 16, 2004)[1][2] was an American R&B singer and songwriter, known to her many fans as "Mama Soul".

Life and career

She was born as Doris Elaine Higginsen,[1] in the Bronx, the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister. She later took her grandmother's name and grew up as Doris Payne.[3] Her parents disapproved of "subversive" forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father's choir. She was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by James Brown.[4] She took her stage name from Helen of Troy.[2] Troy worked with Solomon Burke, the Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick,[5] before she co-wrote and recorded "Just One Look" (the songwriting credits use the name Doris Payne), which hit #10 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.[6]

"Just One Look" was the only charting US hit for Troy. The song was recorded in 10 minutes in October 1962, with producer Buddy Lucas, as a demo for Atlantic Records.[7] However, after Atlantic Records heard the demo, they decided not to re-record it, but release it as is.[7] The musicians included Ernie Hayes on organ, Wally Richardson on guitar, Bob Bushnell on bass, and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums.[7] The song has been covered by the Hollies, Faith, Hope & Charity, Major Lance, Linda Ronstadt, Bryan Ferry, Anne Murray, Klaus Nomi, and Harry Nilsson in a duet with Lynda Laurence.[8] Troy's only foray into the UK Singles Chart, "Whatcha Gonna Do About It", peaked at #37 in December 1964.[1]

As her solo career peaked, she sang back-up for the Rolling Stones,[2] Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers,[9] Edgar Broughton,[9] Pink Floyd (on their album The Dark Side of the Moon),[2] George Harrison, Johnny Hallyday, Vivian Stanshall, Dusty Springfield,[4] Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Carly Simon.[4]

She was signed by the Beatles to their Apple Records label in 1969,[2] and released the Doris Troy album the following year, co-produced by Troy and George Harrison. Troy worked in the UK throughout the 1970s, appearing at Ronnie Scott's Club and recording a live album, The Rainbow Testament. Her People Records album, Stretching Out, was not a big seller.

Mama, I Want To Sing is a stage musical based on her life,[2] and was co-written with her sister, Vy Higginsen, a popular New York City radio personality. It ran for 1,500 performances at the Heckscher Theatre in Harlem. Troy played her own mother, Geraldine. Chaka Khan played her aunt in the London production, as did Deniece Williams.[10] Mama, I Want to Sing! was also made into a motion picture, starring Ciara, Patti Labelle and Hill Harper, which was released on DVD in 2012.[11]

Troy died from emphysema at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 67.[2]



  1. 1 2 3 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 567. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sisario, Ben (February 19, 2004). "Doris Troy, Pop Singer Whose Life Inspired a Show, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  3. Doris Troy at SoulfulKindaMusic
  4. 1 2 3 "Doris Troy - Apple Records". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  5. "Doris Troy". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  6. - Billboard Singles
  7. 1 2 3 Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Let The Drums Speak!, 2014 pages 69-70.
  8. "Harry Nilsson And Lynda Laurence / Nilsson* – Just One Look / Baby I'm You / That Is All". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Doris Troy - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  10. Meade, Bazil (26 February 2013). A Boy, A Journey, A Dream. Monarch Books. pp. 143–. ISBN 978-0-85721-211-5.
  11. "MAMA, I WANT TO SING! Ciara, Patti LaBelle, Lynn Whitfield & Hill Harper Hit All the Right Notes on DVD February 14". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  12. "Doris Troy Discography".

External links

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