Recorded January 2010
Millie Scott may not be a household
name but to soul purists and industry stalwarts like Aretha Franklin, with whom she has toured for the last decade, her name is worth its weight in gold...
The classy, soulful tones of Millie Scott were all over U.S. R&B airwaves in 1986 with the release of her smooth-as-velvet single, “Ev’ry Little Bit,” co-written by Ronn Mattlock and Bruce Nazarian. Meanwhile, the same action was happening overseas with a passionate, uptempo number called “Prisoner of Love.” But after a few more singles and two album releases, Millie appeared to vanish from the musical radar. This is not actually the case -- the Savannah, Georgia-born songstress has kept herself quite fancifully occupied with a number of rhythmic ventures. Read our recent interview with Millie to find out where she’s been, and where she’s headed next...
JK: So, I know you’re from Savannah, Georgia originally.
Millie Scott: Savannah, Georgia is my home.
JK: From what I understand, some of your early musical experiences were singing in Gospel groups like the Pilgrim Gospel Singers and the Sermonettes. Can you tell me what level that was on? Was it a professional recording act, or what was that all about?
MS: We never recorded, but it was in my hometown, and I was raised in the church and I met these ladies that wanted me to sing with them and I did. We just travelled around Georgia, and it was pretty local. It wasn’t until I moved from Savannah after graduating from high school and went to New York and lived at 65, and I did 2 or 3 shows at the Apollo Theater, and then won the amateur hour and went on to do some other things. I met a good friend of mine, his name is Bob Urie, and he wanted to put a group together, so he put me with two other young ladies and we were The Crayons first, and then he changed the name to The Glories, and we got a record with Date Records at that time, which was a subsidiary of Columbia Records. It was then that I toured everywhere, like overseas, Europe, the Far East and everywhere around the world 3 or 4 times.
JK: Hooking up with Bruce (Nazarian) opened another realm of music that you could cover. What was that like, the experience working with him and Ron Matlock?
MS: It was a great experience. I was doing local stuff with my own band, because I’ve always had a local band here in Detroit. When I was not recording, I would work locally around town at different private events or opening shows. I had a wonderful group that I put together, so in-between doing my local gigs, I had met Bruce and Dwayne, and we would go into the studio and record. A lot of the stuff I recorded during that time, it was after I got off work, at 2 in the morning and I would go into the studio and just cut it, and ‘E’vry Little Bit’ is the single that did really well off the first CD, and I did that within maybe one or two takes, because it’s such a great song.
JK: So you were singing all day long at that point, doing shows and going to the studio?
JK: You obtained a lot of success, not only in the UK with ‘E’vry Little Bit’, but with ‘Prisoner of Love’, and ‘Automatic’.
MS: I was in England for about 6 months, on a promotional tour there, which was absolutely divine, because everywhere I went in England to perform, they love Soul music, they love good music, they had my picture all over the entire club, and they treated me so royally. I enjoyed it so much. It was a great experience, because they like good music. If you’re not good, you can’t even do it. You’ve got to be really happening. I really enjoyed that experience, and I’d love to go back to the UK.
JK: When you were on Fourth and Broadway Records and Island, did you have a lot of say in what the material was that you were doing, or how did that all work?
MS: I didn’t have a lot to say. I would say if I liked the song, if I could deliver the song, but I didn’t do a lot of the music; Bruce did a lot of the music for me, because he is very talented. He and I as a matter of fact, are going to hook up again, we’re going to do some new music, and I’m excited about that. This time around, I’m more excited, because I’m writing a lot of the stuff. I began to write, and I’m excited about that. It’s going to be a little different, but it’s going to be great.
JK: Catch me up on what’s been going on, the last 20 years I guess. Up until recently, when I got in touch with Bruce, the last I had heard from you was the ‘I Can Make It Good For You’ album.
MS: Yes, that was the last one. I’ve only had two, and I didn’t record any more, because I’ve been touring with Earl Klugh, and I’ve been touring with Aretha Franklin for the last 9 years.
JK: How did that association come about?
MS: I did a private event for her, my band and myself, and she fell in love with us. She asked me to come on the road with her to do some dates, and I did and it worked out really great, so she would call me and ask me to work with her, and I did for a while. I’m one of the few vocalists that she let sing a duet with her.
JK: What did you sing?
MS: There were a few. One of the songs, I can’t remember the name of, it was a Mariah Carey tune, and the new girl who sings ‘From My Heart To Yours’, Laura Izibor, so from time to time, I have done duets with her.
JK: Tell me about that experience. It’s a rare opportunity to sing with the Queen of Soul.
MS: She’s a gracious person, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a great opportunity for me. We have not gone overseas, because she doesn’t fly, but we’ve played everywhere in the States. We’ve played in Toronto, Canada and everywhere. It’s been great. It’s a great experience. She’s a number one singer.
JK: What about Earl Klugh? What sort of things have you done with him?
MS: I’ve done jazz with Earl Klugh, because Earl was a dear friend of mine, and when I played locally in Detroit, Earl would come when he’s in town; he’s from Detroit, but he now lives in Atlanta; well he would come sit in with us, come up and play, and he remembered me from that, and he called and asked me to do some dates with him, and I did. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with Engelbert, with Al Green, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin. It’s been great. It’s been really great.
JK: Tell me about the new material you are writing. What can we expect, or what can you tell listeners about that, at this point?
MS: I’m not going to speak too much on it, because I’m still in the process of doing some things, but it’s going to be some more up-tempo stuff, more mid-tempo, like ‘E’vry Little Bit’, and we’re going to try to do some funk, something that’s real funky and upbeat because we need an uplift at this point.
JK: I know it wasn’t as popular, but I really loved ‘It’s My Life’ and I thought the video was really fun too.
MS: My very first record, ‘Prisoner of Love’. Yeah. There’s going to be some up-tempo, there’s going to be some House, well not truly House, but it’s going to be a nice groove.
JK: Is there anywhere in particular that you’re performing now, that you would like to promote to listeners, if they’re in Detroit?
MS: We’ve been on tour for the last year with Aretha, and I’m all done with that, I’m in the process of writing my material, Bruce and I are getting together at the first of the year, and I just want everybody to keep an eye out for Millie Scott, because I’m coming back and it’s going to be marvelous! Just keep an eye out.
JK: Are you going to do this independently as far as releasing it, or are there plans to try to get with a particular label?
MS: We’re going to see how it goes. You can’t really say, because I don’t know yet, but it’s going to be good. It’s going to come out and it’s going to be wonderful. I want everybody to buy it.
JK: I’m really excited, because I didn’t know if we were going to hear anything record-wise from you again.
MS: I’m excited too.
JK: I don’t know how much you go online and look at stuff, but as Bruce and I have told you, I put a few different clips of you on Youtube. If you look up the username Retrorhythms, you’ll see I put your Soul Train performance up there.
MS: He told me. I appreciate that. Thank you so much, Justin. I appreciate you. This is marvelous! I’m enjoying it.
JK: Thank you. It’s an honour to speak with you, and again, I wish you good luck with recording the album, getting the songs written, and we will keep in touch.
MS: We will keep in touch, and as soon as I’m done, and it’s coming out, I’m going to let you know.
About the Writer
Justin Kantor is a freelance music journalist with published works in Wax Poetics and the All-Music Guide. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Business and Management program, he regularly writes liner notes for reissue labels.