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Brenda Holloway

Brenda Holloway performing at a memorial tribute for the late founder of the Watts Summer Festival, Tommy Jacquette on Saturday, 28 Nov 2009.
Background information
Born June 21, 1946 (1946-06-21) (age 63)
Origin Atascadero, California, United States
Genres Soul
Occupations Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1964 – present
Labels Motown, Motorcity
Associated acts Mary Wells, Patrice Holloway

Brenda Holloway (born June 21, 1946 in Atascadero, California, United States) is an African-American singer and songwriter, best known as a recording artist for the Motown Records label during the 1960s. Her most well-known recordings are the soul hits, "Every Little Bit Hurts" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy." The latter was later widely popularized when it became a Top Ten hit for the band, Blood, Sweat & Tears.




Early life and career

Born in Atascadero, California, the eldest of three children to Wade and Johnnie Mae (Fossett) Holloway.[1] In 1948, she and her infant brother, Wade, Jr., moved with their parents to the Watts section of Los Angeles where Brenda took up violin and sung in her church choir. Her sister, Patrice was born there three years later. At 14, she and sister Patrice began working on demonstration records and singing backup for Los Angeles based R&B acts. In 1962, Holloway made her recording debut with the single, "Hey Fool". Two years later, she recorded the song that she would later be known for in the coming decades, "Every Little Bit Hurts".

The Motown years

After being overheard singing Mary Wells' "My Guy", Motown CEO Berry Gordy signed her to the label's Tamla imprint. For her first single, she was required to re-record "Every Little Bit Hurts" much to the budding singer-songwriter's chagrin. Released in May 1964, "Every Little Bit Hurts" became a hit for Holloway reaching number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100 helping to win the singer a concert spot on Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars tour. Holloway followed "Every Little Bit Hurts" with the more modest follow-up, "I Will Always Love You", before hitting the Top 40 again with the number 25 pop hit, "When I'm Gone" (written and produced by Smokey Robinson) and released shortly after Mary Wells' Motown contract expired. Wells had recorded "When I'm Gone" before Holloway.

After its success, Motown provided Holloway with other songs that were originally recorded by Wells including "Operator" and "I'll Be Available". Holloway became a fixture to several 1960s television programs including Shindig! and was later asked by The Beatles to open for them on their US tour in 1965. Holloway performed in the first rock stadium concert at Shea Stadium for the Beatles as their opening act. Holloway was only one of three female acts who opened for the Beatles including Mary Wells and Jackie DeShannon. Despite her modest success, Holloway felt out of place at the Detroit-based label. Being the first West Coast-based artist on the label, she also was one of the few female artists in Motown to write her own songs and had a much grittier approach to songs than her contemporaries in the label. Between 1966 and early 1968, Holloway recorded a string of singles that was to be put on her second album, Hurtin' & Cryin', which was never officially released. Its first single was "Just Look What You've Done", which hit the Top 30 on the R&B chart. Its follow-up was "You've Made Me So Very Happy", was one of the few singles written by Holloway allowed to be released. The single peaked at number 39 on the pop chart and number 40 on the R&B chart. Holloway left Motown in 1968. A year later, Holloway received royalties for "You've Made Me So Very Happy" when Blood, Sweat & Tears took it to number 2 on the US pop chart and the Top 40 in the UK Singles chart. A year afterwards, Holloway retired from performing.

Later years

Holloway married a pastor and left the music industry to become a housewife. During this period, she occasionally sang with her sister Patrice. In 1980, Holloway briefly emerged from retirement to record a gospel album. After Holloway and her husband were divorced, she returned to performing secular music in 1988, recording for the UK label, Motorcity Records, which often released material of former Motown artists. In 1990 Holloway issued the album All It Takes. After the 1992 death of her friend, Mary Wells, Holloway again emerged from retirement and resumed performing and recording. Her most current album was in 2003, entitled My Love is Your Love. Her vocals, alongside her sister's, were prominently featured in the background of Joe Cocker's hit version of "With a Little Help from My Friends".



  • Every Little Bit Hurts (1964)
  • The Artistry of Brenda Holloway (1968)
  • All It Takes (1990)
  • It's a Woman's World (1999)
  • Together... (Live) (2000)
  • My Love Is Your Love (2CD, 2003)
  • 20th Century Masters (2003)
  • Anthology (Tamla-Motown) (2005)


  • "Hey Fool" (1962)
  • "Game of Love" (1962)
  • "I'll Give My Life" (1962)
  • "Every Little Bit Hurts" (1964) US: #13
  • "I'll Always Love You" (1964) US: #60
  • "When I'm Gone" (1965) R&B: #12 US: #25
  • "Operator" (1965) R&B: #36 US: #78
  • "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" (1965)
  • "Together 'Til the End of Time" (1966)
  • "Hurt a Little Everyday" (1966)
  • "Just Look What You've Done" (1967) R&B: #21 US: #69
  • "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (1967) R&B: #40 US: #39
  • "Give Me A Little Inspiration" (1988)
  • "On the Rebound" (duet with Jimmy Ruffin) (1988)
  • "Hot and Cold" (1991)


  1. ^ "California Birth Index, 1905-1995 [database on-line"]. United States: The Generations Network. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 

External links


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