Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Legacy of the (Sensuous) Voice of House Music: LADY REED


Many are familiar with Loletta Holloway and the impact her voice has had upon House Music culture, the late Ms. Holloway has been sampled and remixed ad infinitum on countless releases.  If  Loletta Holloway is the unquestionable "A" side to the House Music soundtrack, then her ribald counterpart on the "B" side is the incomparable Lady Reed.  NY artist DJ Jus Ed has just released his latest EP, "Explicit Message" on Underground Quality which pays homage to Lady Reed specifically and the raunchier side of House Music in general.

Nancy Reed aka Lady Reed aka The Queen Bee aka The Madam was a performer discovered by Rudy Ray Moore and recorded alongside Mr. Moore for many releases, most notably for House Music fans, "The Sensuous Black Woman" as "The Madam" and "The Sensuous Black Woman meets The Sensuous Black Man"(also known as "The Zodiac Album") credited to "The Madam" and "The Prince".  

These albums were in response to a earlier more "vanilla" sort of "self-help" album aimed at sexually "liberating" middle class suburban white women in the late '60's entitled "The Way To Be The Sensuous Woman by "J" by Connie Z . Where the earlier version  attempts to sanitize sexuality in order for it to conform to conservative standards,  "The Sensuous Black Man/Black Woman" versions take the conversation into "out of bounds"
 territory by being open and frank about sexuality from a African American perspective.

When the Chicago House scene exploded in the early  to mid '80's,  the dj'producers looked to music relegated to their parents dusty record bins for inspiration and the voice of Lady Reed was perfect for the raw & maverick D.I.Y. spirit of early House Music culture.  The first track to incorporate Ms. Reed's voice was the Trax release, "Sensuous Woman Goes Disco" by Jackmaster Dick's Revenge.

This opened the door for numerous producers to sample Lady Reed's voice or wholeheartedly lift whole segments of the albums; another early example is a little known "jack track" by Two Of A Kind entitled "You Kinda Large".

Into the '90's Chicago producers continued the onslaught with underground hits, most notably tracks like "Sensual Wash" from the Black Traxx 6 EP.

Chicago producer, Gene Farris continued the legacy in the early 2000's with a filtered disco  house version(albeit the Rudy Ray Moore version ), "The Sensuous One".

Also of note, during the '90's Chicago artist Candy J made a career emulating Lady Reed's X-rated candor, developing  personas(Sweet Pussy Pauline / Hateful Head Helen) that would become a hit for the NYC House scene.  The influence of Ms. Reed's contribution to House Music culture can be heard in  Candy J's releases to the extent that Candy J's voice has been sampled by producers on par with "The Madam" herself by both NY producers and Chicago Ghetto House producers.

The contribution that Lady Reed(and Rudy Ray Moore to a certain degree) have made and continue to make to underground house music enriches the overall culture and the producers,  without openly acknowledging it, carry the torch for a important(if not openly talked about) aspect of African American culture.  What started out as a taboo social enjoyment in the living rooms of African Americans  helped sustain a nascent musical sub culture with a fresh,  witty(and naughty) approach to the dancefloor.


  1. Actually, Lady Reed was first introduced to the Chicago House scene when the "Sensuous Black Woman Meets the Sensuous Black Man" was played over the 1978 Kikrokos instrumental "Life Is a Jungle"; which most House DJs mistakenly refer to as "Jungle DJ". I first heard this combination at a party in 1985 where Pharris Thomas was the DJ. It's believed that Steve Hurley was the one who put the combo together. This was before the Sensuous Black Woman piece was placed over "Funk You Up" by Jesse Saunders to make "Sensuous Woman Goes Disco". 1985 in Chicago was an exciting time and place.
    Marcus Chapman

  2. I'm looking for a house song which samples "Sensuous Black Woman Meets the Sensuous Black Man"... could you please set me up with some other songs that sample the vocals ? Cheers in advance