Here is the story of a family of three black LA musicians that showcases the vocal talents of the wife and mother, Ty Karim. Her husband Kent Harris’ vocal career was largely over by the time she came into his life and he then spent most of his musical energy producing and promoting his wife’s soul recordings. 43 years on from those first recordings, the couple’s daughter Karime, now performs that wonderful music to the same UK fans who have serached out and appreciate the scarce releases of her parents over the last three decades.
Ty Karim was a stunning looking, tall and elegant LA soul singer with a raw emotive vocal delivery who recorded from the mid 60s to early 80s. Her recordings were mainly original dancefloor-inspired numbers; always very dynamic and great vehicles for her husky voice. The 60s tracks are Northern soul at its best and their rarity and excellence has put three of them into the £1000+ bracket, even though ‘You Really Made It Good To Me’ was issued on three different catalogue numbers. ‘You Just Don’t Know’ is the hugely expensive number, only ever issued on Kent Harris’ Romark label and now costing £3,000+, but worth it for those glorious vocals and the cascading piano fills alone. ‘Lighten Up Baby’ is another costly item whose full story could fill a book, given the time. Even the 70s remake of it, ‘Lightin Up’, is on the pricey side but like most of Ty’s 45s is a stunning double sider with a beautiful James Taylor, of all people, song on the flip.
60s Big Beat ballad fans should look out for the stunning ‘All At Once’ which may have passed them by as its flip commands such a high price. Due to heavy local sales ‘Help Me Get The Feeling’ is a relatively cheap (we’re talking hundreds not thousands) single but an equally great 60s Motownesque dancer.
Ty and Kent’s crossover funk ‘Wear Your Natural’ presaged the 70s soul sound that Ty also mastered. She worked through that decade with ‘Lightin’ Up’ the standout release, and then into the 80s, when her 12” collaboration with George Griffin ‘Keep On Doin’ Whatcha’ Doin’’ gained her new overseas fans. We are pleased to be able to include her prototype of that song ‘If I Can’t Stop You (I Can Slow You Down)’ as recorded by CB Overton and Johnny Bristol; it has got the Modern Room DJs licking their lips already.
Sadly Ty died in 1983, but with her daughter Karime living only a couple of miles from Ace, we’ve pieced together this fascinating story. It includes how a Northern soul fanzine article about her mother inspired Karime to move to the UK and eventually led to her singing her parents’ wonderful music to very appreciative crowds on today’s Northern Soul circuit. Kent Harris has given us complete access to all his master tapes and photographs and we have even found new material and alternative takes on some of Ty’s songs, including a great blues version of ‘Lighten Up Baby’. The musical clarity from the masters is particularly good too; given the understandably poor sound quality of previous bootlegs of the music.
From being an almost mythical and revered West Coast chanteuse, we can now appreciate and understand Ty Karim for the sublime artist she was.
By Ady Croasdell