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Barbara Acklin (February 28, 1944 - November 27, 1998) was a soul singer of the 1960s and 1970s. Her biggest hit was "Love Makes a Woman" in 1968 which reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.



Born Barbara Jean Acklin, was an only child of Herman and Hazel Acklin, she began singing in church and then as a teenager in nightclubs while attending Dunbar Vocational High school in Chicago. Upon graduation, she was hired as a secretary for a local record label by her cousin, saxophonist and producer Monk Higgins. Her first release was under the name Barbara Allen on his Special Agent label. Later, Higgins used Acklin as a background singer on his Chess Records sessions with artists like Etta James and Fontella Bass.

In 1966, Acklin began working as a receptionist for record producer Carl Davis at Brunswick Records in Chicago. She persistently asked Davis to record her. Davis finally agreed but encouraged her to keep writing songs. Cornering Brunswick star Jackie Wilson, Acklin had him listen to a tune that she co-wrote with David Scott (formerly of The Exciters Band and later to join the Chi-Lites for a time). Wilson liked it and passed it on to Davis. Released in September 1966, "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)" went to number 5 R&B and number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song helped to re-launch Wilson's career and, returning the favor, he helped Acklin to secure a recording contract with Brunswick.

Acklin's first chart success as a singer came with "Show Me the Way to Go," a duet with another Brunswick artist, Gene Chandler, which reached number 30 R&B in the spring of 1968. In July the same year, Acklin had a hit of her own with "Love Makes a Woman," which went to number three R&B and number 15 on the Hot 100. The song, co-written by producers Carl Davis and Eugene Record together with arranger Sonny Sanders and guitarist Gerald Sims, also won a BMI Award. Another Chandler/Acklin duet followed in October 1968. "From the Teacher to the Preacher" reached number 16 R&B and number 57 pop. Acklin's next charting singles were "Just Ain't No Love," "Am I The Same Girl" (covered by Dusty Springfield, Swing Out Sister and The Manhattan Transfer), "After You", "I Did It," "Lady Lady Lady," and "I Call It Trouble."

She was reportedly disappointed with Brunswick when, prior to releasing her version of "Am I the Same Girl", her voice on the track was replaced by the piano part and released as an instrumental. "Soulful Strut" became a massive hit for Young-Holt Unlimited, reaching the top 3 of both the Hot 100 and R&B charts. Unfortunately for Acklin, her release some months later in early 1969 did not enjoy the promotion or reaction of "Soulful Strut", managing only #33 R&B and #79 pop. However, Barbara was also proficient as a songwriter - in addition to "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)", she co-wrote "Have You Seen Her", a major hit for The Chi-Lites with the group's lead singer, Eugene Record, and several of their other biggest songs: "Oh Girl", "Stoned Out Of My Mind" and "Toby" as well as her own releases. Her distinctive voice also featured occasionally on background vocals on some of The Chi-Lites' records.

Acklin departed Brunswick in 1974 for Capitol Records. Her first single, "Raindrops," was an R&B hit (#14) in the summer of that year. The song and resulting album were produced by Willie Henderson, another Brunswick regular who had also just left the label. A few subsequent singles failed to register strongly and Acklin's recording career subsided.

Personal life

Barbara Acklin died from pneumonia on November 27, 1998 while in Nebraska. She had lived for some years with Eugene Record and the two had a son. She also has a daughter who is an aspiring singer.


Barbara Acklin's 1969 album Seven Days of Night.


  • 1968: Love Makes a Woman (Brunswick) - US #146, R&B #4
  • 1969: Seven Days of Night (Brunswick)
  • 1970: Someone Else's Arms (Brunswick)
  • 1971: I Did It (Brunswick) - R&B #28
  • 1973: I Call It Trouble (Brunswick)
  • 1975: A Place in the Sun (Capitol)
  • 2002: 20 Greatest Hits (Brunswick)


  • 1968: "Show Me The Way To Go" (with Gene Chandler) - R&B #30
  • 1968: "Love Makes a Woman" - US #15, R&B #3
  • 1968: "From The Teacher To The Preacher" (with Gene Chandler) - US #57, R&B #16
  • 1969: "Just Ain't No Love" - US #67, R&B #23
  • 1969: "Am I The Same Girl" - US #79, R&B #33
  • 1969: "After You" - R&B #30
  • 1970: "I Did It" - R&B #28
  • 1972: "Lady, Lady, Lady" - R&B #44
  • 1972: "I Call It Trouble" - R&B #49
  • 1973: "I'll bake me a man"
  • 1974: "Raindrops" - R&B #14
  • 1975: "Special Loving" - R&B #73
  • 1975: "Give Me Some Of Your Sweet Love" - R&B #98

Further reading

  • Pruter, Robert. Chicago Soul. CHicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-025206259-9



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