Imagine you’re a young teenager living with your grandmother in the 1960s. It’s 10 o’clock at night and quiet. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door.
A peek through the curtains reveals a white man standing there, waiting.
“My grandmother asked out loud and nearly simultaneously, ‘What in the world? What could this white man possibly want?’” said Dorothy Moore with a chuckle at the memory. “You know, those times back then … it was the Civil Rights era and all. So yeah, we were wondering.”
The man was record producer Bob McRee of Epic Records. He had gotten wind of this young singer who’d caused a stir singing at the Alamo Theater on Farish Street in Jackson.
The emcee that night at the Alamo had been local radio talent Jobie Martin.
McRee searched high and low for young Dorothy, and it had taken him all day and into the night to find her. He wanted to sign Dorothy to a record deal.
After he explained himself, her grandmother, Minnie Mitchell, co-signed the deal.
The ensuing record deal put Dorothy into the all-girl trio, The Poppies, an R&B/pop group consisting of Dorothy, Petsye McCune and Rosemary Taylor. They had a hit in the mid 1960s called “Lullaby of Love,” which reached the middle of the Billboard Hot 100.
After a couple of years, Rosemary and Petsye went back to school. Later, Dorothy left school and became an unintentional star.
“For me, it was just exciting and fun,” said Moore. “I just loved to sing and really wasn’t thinking about being famous, let alone becoming a star.”
Even as a backup singer, her sultry voice got her noticed and gave her solo opportunities to sing for the label. Her voice allowed her to see the world, first as a back-up singer for renowned vocalists and groups of that era, and then, as a solo singer.
Eventually, she signed with Malaco Records in Jackson.
It was at Malaco that the song “Misty Blue” found its way to Dorothy. It was written by Bob Montgomery in Nashville and first recorded by country artist Wilma Burgess.
“I recorded that song in one take,” said Moore with pride. “Oh, and there it sat on a shelf for two years. But you know what, my friend Eddie Floyd, who was an artist at the time with Malaco too, heard it and told Malaco to release it. He told them that song was a hit.”
Floyd was right.
Moore was working on Mill Street in Jackson when she got word that the song had, indeed, become a hit.
“Misty Blue” catapulted Moore into the music stratosphere, garnering her fans around the world and a Grammy Award nomination. The song has been a part of soundtracks for many popular movies.
Since that first Grammy nod, Moore has been awarded three other Grammy nominations. In 2015, she was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, located in Marks.
After many albums for other labels, and a respite from the music business, nowadays, Moore produces herself.
“The music biz didn’t control me,” said Moore. “I found out that I actually love producing. And there are great musicians right here close to home that I use.”
Her latest drop, “I’m Happy with the One I’ve Got Now,” produced on her Farish Street Records of Mississippi label that she founded in 2002, is a rousing homage to her gospel and blues roots.