Dorothy Moore

Dorothy Moore - Jackson

Best known for her 1976 hit “Misty Blue” on Jackson’s Malaco Records, Dorothy Moore remained prominent as a performer and recording artist for well over a half-century. Her career effectively started in 1958 when, at just twelve, she won the first of many all-ages talent shows. In 1966, Moore’s vocal group, the Poppies, was signed to Epic Records while she was attending Jackson State University. As a solo artist, Moore enjoyed numerous hits and multiple GRAMMY nominations, and has been recognized with honors including the Governor’s Arts Award.

Dorothy Moore,  a self-described “R&B singer with a blues heart” (born October 13, 1946), began her ascent to recognition as one of Mississippi’s premier vocalists as a child at the New Strangers’ Home Baptist Church, singing lead in the choir and representing the church at programs across the city. Her great-grandmother Minnie Mitchell took her to compete in Wednesday night talent shows at the historic Alamo Theater on Farish Street hosted by local media personality Jobie Martin when Moore was in junior high.  At 16 she signed a contract with local studio owner Bob McRee, who produced her first single in 1965. McRee and his partners Cliff and Ed Thomas wrote songs for a 1966 album on Epic by the Poppies, which featured Moore and her fellow Jackson State students Rosemary Taylor and Petsye McCune. Moore also sang background on several McRee/Thomas productions, including Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson’s 1968 hit “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries.”

The Poppies mostly performed outside of Jackson, but Moore often sang in local nightclubs with Tommy Tate, Tim Whitsett’s Imperial Show Band and others. In the early ’70s she began working at Jackson’s Malaco Records, contributing background vocals on dozens of sessions, including Jean Knight’s hit “Mr. Big Stuff” and albums by Bobby Bland, Z.Z. Hill and Little Milton. Solo recordings recorded by Moore at Malaco were issued on Avco, GSF, Malaco’s Chimneyville imprint, and eventually the Malaco label, which issued “Misty Blue” in 1975.  The song reached No. 2 on the soul charts and No. 3 on the pop charts, and led to national tours of prominent venues and appearances on TV shows including American Bandstand, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and Soul Train as well as popular talk shows. Moore received GRAMMY nominations for “Misty Blue” and the following year’s hit  “I Believe You,” and received honors from organizations including Billboard, Record World and the NAACP Image Awards. Her first LP, also entitled Misty Blue, stayed on Billboard’s pop charts for 23 weeks in 1976 and on the soul charts for 18.

Moore continued recording for decades, including nine albums for Malaco and two for Volt, and took control of her career after founding Farish Street Records in 2002. Her recordings demonstrated her versatility and mastery of multiple genres, and she returned to gospel on Givin’ It Straight to You (1986). Although Moore’s hits were often R&B ballads, blues was always in her repertoire and she began playing blues harmonica at shows, having studied with Mississippi’s L.C. Ulmer. She worked actively as an ambassador for the blues with the Blues Foundation and its Hart Fund for musicians in need, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, and other organizations. She received multiple Blues Music Awards, a Jus’ Blues Music Award, and was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.

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