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Morgana King

None of the more than 30 albums recorded by singer Morgana King since the mid-'50s have been embraced by the size of the audience that bought tickets to see the first two chapters of The Godfather film trilogy, in which King acted in the role of Mama Corleone. But it would be wrong to assume she has had more impact as an actress than as a vocalist. Her acting roles, few and far between, are chosen with care, but do not have the resonance of some of her finest recordings. Millions saw her onscreen in The Godfather films, but her performance was certainly overshadowed by performers such as Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino, not to mention the famous turn by Marlon Brando as her husband. Another role of King's was in the 1997 film A Brooklyn State of Mind; she has also appeared in several television productions.

It is possible that there are actors and actresses who have named Morgana King as a great inspiration. Yet, the results of a simple Internet search under her name only yielded dozens of quotes from vocalists and other musicians about the great influence of her recordings and singing style, not her work before the camera. It might not be a surprise when a young female singer gushes about King's albums, but these fans also include deeper thinkers such as classical bass virtuoso Gary Karr. References to her music also show up regularly in fiction as a kind of mood-setting device, such as: "It was a beautiful day in Malibu. He got up, made a coffee and put on a Morgana King record."

Some record collectors might be surprised to realize that a complete set of King sides might eliminate any elbow room for, say, the discography of one of the prolific blues guitarists with this regal surname. Morgana King sides can be divided into several periods. It took her almost eight years to peak at whatever commercial success she was going to have with the 1964 A Taste of Honey album, thus ending the early years. She then was absorbed into the Atlantic and Reprise corporation and an exemplary series of releases by singers such as Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker, and Ray Charles. The label's greatest producers stared the oncoming rock & roll in the eye, never forgetting their basic R&B orientation. Within a few years, a sub-category developed, seen through paisley glasses. The material became more philosophical, the increasing intellectual depth not surprisingly accompanied by the audience stampeding in the opposite direction. This might make sense, though; while 1965's The Winter of My Discontent is a masterpiece, 1968's Gemini Changes is laughably pretentious.

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August 16, 2018

Morgana King: 1930-2018

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

It's a Quiet Thing

Collectors Classics
2006

buy

A Taste Of Honey

Mainstream Records
1991

buy

Simply Eloquent

Copacabana
1986

buy

Portraits

Copacabana
1984

buy

Videos

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