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Honoring the memory of the late, Tammi Terrell Tags: tammie terrel memory honor motown word life production feature

Tammi Terrell (born Thomasina Winifred Montgomery; April 29, 1945 Ė March 16, 1970) was an American recording artist, best known as a star singer for Motown Records during the 1960s, most notably for a series of duets with singer Marvin Gaye.

Terrell's career began as a teenager, first recording for Scepter/Wand Records, before spending nearly two years as a member of James Brown's Revue, recording for Brown's Try Me label. After a period attending college, Terrell recorded briefly for Checker Records, before signing with Motown in 1965.

With Gaye, Terrell scored seven Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By". Terrell's career was interrupted when she collapsed into Gaye's arms as the two performed at a concert at Hampden-Sydney College on October 14, 1967, with Terrell later being diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had eight unsuccessful operations before succumbing to the illness on March 16, 1970 at the age of 24.


Terrell was born as Thomasina Montgomery in Philadelphia to Jennie (nťe Graham) and Thomas Montgomery. Jennie was an actress and Thomas was a barbershop owner and local politician. Tammi was the eldest of two. According to the Unsung documentary, her younger sister Ludie Marianna said that they had thought Terrell would be a boy and therefore she would be named after her father. However, when she was born, the parents settled on the name Thomasina, nicknaming her "Tommie". She later changed it to "Tammy" after seeing the film, Tammy and the Bachelor, and hearing its theme song, "Tammy", at the age of 12. Starting around this time, Terrell started to have migraine headaches. While it was not thought to be of significance at the time, family members would later state that these headaches might have been related to her later diagnosis of brain cancer. According to her sister, Terrell's mother suffered from mental illness.


Early recordings

Before turning 15, Terrell signed under the Wand subsidiary of Scepter Records after being discovered by Luther Dixon, recording the ballad, "If You See Bill", under the name Tammy Montgomery. After another single, Terrell left the label and, after being introduced to James Brown, signed a contract with him and began singing backup for his Revue concert tours. In 1963, she recorded the song "I Cried". Released on Brown's Try Me Records, it became her first charting single reaching no.99 on the Billboard Hot 100.

After this tenure ended, Terrell signed with Checker Records and released the Bert Berns produced duet, "If I Would Marry You" with Jimmy Radcliffe, in which Terrell co-composed herself. Following this relative failure, Terrell announced a semi-retirement from the music business and enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania where she majored in pre-med, staying at the school for two years. In the middle of this, Terrell was asked by Jerry Butler to sing with him in a series of shows in nightclubs. After an arrangement was made by Butler to assure Terrell that she could continue her schooling, she began touring with Butler.

In April 1965, during a performance at the Twenty Grand Club in Detroit, she was spotted by Motown CEO Berry Gordy, who promised to sign her to Motown. Terrell agreed and signed with the label on April 29, her 20th birthday. Before releasing her first single with Motown's Tamla subsidiary, "I Can't Believe You Love Me", Gordy suggested a name change. Figuring "Tammy Montgomery" was too long of a name to put on a single, Gordy changed it to "Tammi Terrell". He felt this name screamed "sex appeal". "I Can't Believe You Love Me" became Terrell's first R&B top forty single, followed almost immediately by "Come On and See Me". In 1966, Terrell recorded two future classics, Stevie Wonder's "All I Do (Is Think About You)" and The Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)". Terrell joined the Motortown Revue after the release of her first single. During a tour in which she opened for The Temptations, Terrell met the band's lead singer David Ruffin and embarked on a torrid romance.

In early 1967, Motown hired Terrell to sing duets with Marvin Gaye, who had achieved duet success with Mary Wells and Kim Weston as well as having recorded duets with Oma Heard. During recording sessions, Gaye would recall later that he didn't know how gifted Terrell was until they began singing together.

At first the duets were recorded separately. For sessions of their first recording, the Ashford & Simpson composition, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", both Gaye and Terrell recorded separate versions. Motown remixed the vocals and edited out the background vocals, giving just Gaye and Terrell vocal dominance. The song became a crossover pop hit in the spring of 1967, reaching number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the R&B charts, making Terrell a star. Their follow-up, "Your Precious Love", became an even bigger hit reaching number five on the pop chart, and number-two on the R&B chart. At the end of the year, the duo scored another top ten single with "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You", which peaked at number ten on the pop chart and number-two on the R&B chart. The song's B-side, the Marvin Gaye composition, "If This World Were Mine", became a modest hit on both charts, reaching number sixty-eight on the pop chart and number twenty-seven on the R&B chart. Gaye would later cite the song as "one of Tammi's favorites".

All four songs were included on Gaye and Terrell's first duet album, United, released in the late summer of 1967. Throughout that year, Gaye and Terrell began performing together and Terrell became a vocal and performance inspiration for the shy and laid-back Gaye, who hated live performing. The duo even performed together on TV shows to their hits. While Terrell was finally being established as a star, the migraines and headaches that she suffered with as a child were becoming more constant. While she complained of pains, she insisted to people close to her that she was well enough to perform. However, on October 14, 1967, while performing with Gaye at Hampden-Sydney College, just outside the town of Farmville, Virginia, Terrell fell and buckled onstage; Gaye quickly responded by grabbing her by the arms and helping her offstage. Shortly after returning from Virginia, doctors diagnosed a malignant tumor on the right side of her brain.

After recovering from her first operation, Terrell returned to Hitsville studios in Detroit and recorded "You're All I Need to Get By". Both that song and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing", reached number-one on the R&B charts. Despite Terrell's optimism, her tumor got worse requiring more operations. By 1969, Terrell had retired from live performances as she had been ordered by doctors not to perform due to her tumors.

Both Marvin Gaye and Valerie Simpson gave different stories on how the production of Terrell's and Gaye's third album together, Easy, was released. According to reports, Terrell had gotten so ill from her operations that she couldn't record and once Motown opted to have Valerie Simpson sub in for Terrell, a report that was repeated on the book, Marvin Gaye: What's Going On and the Last Days of the Motown Sound. Gaye would later say the move was "another moneymaking scheme on BG's part". Valerie Simpson stated that while Terrell was sick, she was brought into the studio to record over Simpson's guide vocals, insisting Terrell sung on the album. Easy produced the singles, "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By", "What You Gave Me", "California Soul" and the UK top ten hit, "The Onion Song".

Late in 1969, Terrell made her final public appearance at the Apollo Theater where Marvin Gaye was headlining the bill. As soon as Terrell was spotted by Gaye, he rushed to her side and the duo began singing "You're All I Need to Get By" together. Motown issued Terrell's first and only solo album, Irresistible, also released in 1969. Terrell was too ill and sick to promote the recordings.

Personal life

In her memoirs about her famous sister, Ludie Montgomery writes that Terrell was the victim of sexual molestation by three boys after leaving a neighborhood party at the age of eleven. The boys were arrested and convicted on a rape charge. The incident led to a change in Terrell's behavior. During her early career, Terrell dated many men both in the music business and out. Though they never dated, Terrell had been romantically interested in singer Sam Cooke and she had a budding friendship with Gene Chandler. In 1962, at 17, she signed with James Brown and the two engaged in a sexual relationship. However, this relationship turned out to be abusive. After a horrific incident with Brown backstage after a show, Terrell asked Chandler, who witnessed the incident first hand, to take her to the bus station so she could go home. He later called Terrell's mother to pick her up. This ended Terrell's two-year affair with Brown.

In 1965, Terrell forged on a romance with then-Temptations singer David Ruffin. The following year, Ruffin surprised Terrell with a marriage proposal. However, Terrell was devastated once she learned that Ruffin had a wife and three children and another girlfriend, also living in Detroit. This led to the couple having public fights. Though it was later claimed that Ruffin had hit Terrell with a hammer and a machete, these claims were denied by Terrell's family and her Motown label mates, though Ludie Montgomery confirmed a story that Terrell was hit on the side of her face by Ruffin's motorcycle helmet, leading to the end of their relationship in 1967.

After signing with Motown, she forged friendships with some of the label's artists. One of her closest was with her duet partner, Marvin Gaye, with whom she had a close platonic affair. Though it's often alleged their relationship grew into a brief romance, those close to the singers denied this claim. Ashford & Simpson, and Gaye in later years, stated the relationship was almost sibling-like. Nevertheless they were reported as having opposite personalities: Gaye being shy and introvert, Terrell being streetwise and extrovert. What they shared was their charisma as a performing couple and their sense of humor. Gaye would later call Terrell "sweet" and "misunderstood" and stated that Terrell was his "perfect [musical] partner". At the time of her death, she was engaged to be married to Ernest Garrett, who was a doctor at Terrell's hospital but not her personal doctor.


By early 1970 Terrell was confined to a wheelchair, suffered from blindness and hair loss, and weighed a scant 93 lb. Following her eighth and final operation on January 25, 1970, Terrell went into a coma for the remaining month and a half of her life.

On March 16, Terrell died of complications from brain cancer. She was six weeks short of her 25th birthday. Her funeral was held at the Jane Methodist Church in Philadelphia. At the funeral, Gaye delivered a final eulogy while "You're All I Need to Get By" was playing. According to Terrell's fiancť, Dr. Garrett, who knew Gaye, her mother angrily barred everyone at Motown but Gaye from her funeral.


Already depressed from the first diagnosis of her illness back in late 1967 and from her onstage collapse, Marvin Gaye further withdrew from performing following Terrell's death, re-emerging two years later performing during a benefit concert at the then newly-opened Kennedy Center at Washington, D.C. in May 1972. Terrell's mother criticized Motown for not helping with Terrell's illness accusing the label for covering up the singer's condition releasing albums of Terrell's work without her consent. Gaye had also contended that he felt Motown was taking advantage of Terrell's illness and refused to promote the Easy album despite Motown telling him it would cover Terrell's health expenses.

Gaye never fully got over Terrell's death, according to several biographers who have stated that Terrell's death led Gaye to depression and drug abuse. In addition, Gaye's classic album What's Going On, an introspective, low-key work which dealt with mature themes released in 1971, was in part a reaction to Terrell's death. In July 1970, four months after Terrell's untimely passing, a dramatic rearrangement of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", was released by Diana Ross, becoming a number-one hit and one of Ross' signature songs.

On October 8, 2010, Hip-O Select released, ďCome on and See Me.Ē The Complete Solo Collection, a collection of all of Terrell's solo work dating back to high school, plus never before released songs and 13 minutes of the only known live stage recordings.

Source Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammi_Terrell

BRUNCH WITH SPOKEN WORD-Featuring todayís Guest, ďTammie T. Bell-DavisĒ Tags: brunch spoken word tammie t bell davis poetic designs pd radio word life production

Today is an awesome, awesome day!! I get to kick it with my girl; Ms. Tammie T. Bell Davis. Tammie is the owner and founder of Poetic Designs. She is also a very talented poet, and host of PD Radio which is broadcasted every Tuesday night from 8:00-10:00 p.m. Please check it out. Iím very excited about this interview because Tammie and I have networked for a couple of years now. Sheís been a great inspiration to me through all of her wonderful works.

So Tammie, how long have you been a poet and who or what inspired you?

Well Spoken, I first want to say thank you for this interview. I am so humbled and honored to be chosen as I am truly a fan of YOUR positive light. I have been writing for about 25 years. It started by accident really as I was blessed to have a beautiful little girl whom I named Whitney Monet who died 7 hours after being born due to hospital neglect. Needless to say I was devastated. I didnít want to deal with anyone and I turned to writing my thoughts down not knowing it was poetry until my mom pointed it out to me. Iíve been writing ever since and that painful loss of my daughter is what inspired it.

Oh man, Iím so sorry to hear that. Iím pretty sure that was very devastating. Being the strong woman that you are, Iím glad to see that you made it through that very tough time. God has blessed you with a gift that inspires the world. Speaking of gifts, could you tell me a little bit about Poet Designs Network?

Sure, Poetic Designs is a brand that started off as just framed original poetry that family and friends requested as gifts. It has now expanded to a multi gift business, a Poetic Designs Social Networking Site where members can Showcase, Network & Shine their creative talents, And now to my newest quest with Poetic Designs Radio under the 6thManRadio umbrella. It has grown more than I ever could expect.

Cool. Iíve seen some of the personal gifts that youíve created such as gift baskets, pillows, centerpieces, gift favors, invitations and delicious baked goods, and I must say that your work is totally awesome. What are your future goals for this business?

Yes, as you can see there is really no limit to my creative mind, itís my passion. My goal is to provide quality, unique, personalized gifts and keepsakes that are unique to the individual. In this world of non-originality and lack of personal touches I want my customers to know I will create specifically for THEM to deliver a quality they can only get from Poetic Designs. Also I would love to be able to have a steady stream of orders and customers where I can successfully have it as my primary source of income.

I believe that you are going to definitely have a successful future all the way around. Now one of the things that I admire the most about you is your wonderful personality which compliments PD Radio very well. What is your vision for PD Radio?

Wow thanks Spoken thatís so sweet! Well my friend Seed, the head of 6thManRadio, offered me the opportunity to have my own show under his network. I accepted the opportunity to further my love of giving an outlet to aspiring artists of ALL talents whether it be Poetry, Music, Photography, Graphic or Interior Designs or whatever entrepreneur skills you have PD Radio, along with my co-host Black, wants to shine our Creative Artist Spotlight on you. And of course we bring you Real Talk, Funny Skits, and that good ole back in the day REAL music.

Yes yes, you guys do. I must say that I really enjoy listening to PD Radio. You and Black also complement one another very well. Nowadays I see more and more married couples working together as a team to achieve their goals. There are a lot of Barack and Michelle Obamaís all throughout the black community. When I hear of shows such as Love & Hip Hop or Basketball Wives it looks like the total opposite of what Marriage and family is really about. What steps do you think that we can take to change that image?

Black is very talented and creative on so many levels as am I, so we do come together as a great team bouncing creativity off each other for which we are blessed to be able to do. Today there arenít many many positive couples for the children to look up to. What is portrayed on shows like Love & Hip Hop and Basketball Wives will be the norm and accepted for the youth because itís how black relationships are displayed. Theyíll come to believe if they arenít ďliving that lifeĒ then theyíre not living, so sad really. I feel the best way to effect change is to DEMAND more quality shows by showing the networks we REFUSE to watch the degrading shows they put out. If we stick to this the change will HAVE to come.

That is so true. I hardly ever watch TV which is why Iím available online most of the time. lol Television is such a waste today. When we were younger there was way more positive family shows available. Today everything is the total opposite of good. What they call living is not living at all. In fact, most of the things that are promoted through the media are negative. Itís not many willing to demand the change because sadly many blacks follow the stereotypes. Thatís what keeps the propaganda going. I for one do not want kids to follow that. I would like them to have real hope for their future which includes a healthy family life. Thatís what I call "Living the LifeĒ. If you canít be a positive role model in your own home, then what example can you really set for those watching. Now For the last decade, the hip hop community has flourished, but there are a lot of people especially those that support real hip hop music that disagree with the poor representation of hip hop music today. What are your views on that?

I think the difference between Hip Hop THEN and NOW is that then there was the LOVE of hip hop, the truest way to express what was happening in our communities or to even tell a simple story. There was a passion for it back in the day, not so much about money but about being HEARD. Today, not so much. Today itís about the MONEY and thatís why the art is failing, itís about having a gimmick thatís marketable the clones can blindly follow, Period. But I believe it will get back to the days of before because there is a rising movement to make it so. The way young rappers disrespect the pioneers who paved the way is foul. My boss Bad Seed of 6thManRadio is pushing a movement for Adult Contemporary Hip Hop the same way they have for other genres. The heart of the craft will return once people get tired of their intelligence being insulted by the madness.

I truly hope so. Enough is enough already. In my opinion, there is absolutely no real hip hop representation today in the mainstream media of course. Most mature adults are way past that get money stage, so the Adult Contemporary Hip Hop is an excellent idea. Iím grown and I like to hang out with people my age who are mature and wise. There is such a large catalog of new artists out there, and I dedicate most of my time finding those artists as well. I love music and thatís the only way that I can listen to something real without having to always go back to the golden era. Do you think that hip hop has any real chance of being revived? If so, how do you think that it could be revived?

I do, however the young kids today are way too easily influenced to follow trends that are degrading to them. In order to revive it we have look at the history of how it all started. Just because the pioneers have grown their love of the game hasnít, in fact, older MCís will have a more positive affect with music as they have LIVED, and SEEN and DONE what the average young rapper have yet to experience. Change and Growth is a good thing but there are some creative outlets that must be preserved. As with the degrading shows on TV we have to demand a change by not copping the bull that EXECUTIVES in an office deem credible. Listen to the streets and youíll hear the truth.

I know right. Most of the executives are college grads, but have no real ear for music. I think when it comes to filling those positions they should really look beyond the education factor because in order to find great talent you have to have an ear for music. Thatís something that school cannot teach. Thatís a gift from God for those who believe. Because many executives donít have an ear for music, they have created a mess out of what we use to call soul music. Itís now become an all pop genre. Black people never listened to pop in my day. In fact we laughed at it because most of it was corny, which is why Nicki Minaj probably gets such bad press from real hip hop lovers. Itís like a total insult to the whole community. But anyway, I just got word that while Gabby Douglas was training in Virginia, the kids who trained with her often called her names such as a slave. Now the gymnast says that itís not true. However, Iím from Virginia, and there is a lot of indirect/direct racism especially in the work place and toward those in a lower income bracket such as Gabby Douglas was before she won the gold. Not too long ago, a substitute teacher in Norfolk, Virginia was auctioning off black kids in the classroom to white kids in order to show a demonstration of slavery. Apparently these things happen because there is no real discipline for those who do it. The rumor is that racism is dead so instances such as this are constantly ignored. Itís one thing when we go through it as adults, but what do you think that we can do to prepare our kids for such ignorance?

Honestly Spoken Iím quite sick of it all. I mean I just donít understand in THIS day why weíre still fighting this madness. Seems to me people are more blatant with the disrespect than the past. For that teacher to demonstrate slavery in the classroom the way she did was hurtful, though Iím sure she thought it was an effective way to learn but it subliminally implant in the minds of the young white kids is that they are better and the black kids feel inferior, just sad and wrong. The world gets crazier by the day and the best way to teach our kids is to have a strong foundation at home which implants in them strength and when they are faced with such disgrace they will have a sense of worth and wonít feel belittled because they know they are better than that.

Thatís so true. What do you think about the whole hair issue? †

Hair is hair, make the best of what you have and keep it moving. Iím so over the trivial things such as this. Why is Gabbyís hair even an issue? This young lady has done more and sacrificed more than most of the people who are talking just to be in the limelight she basks in now. Focusing on her hair is just a way to bring her down a notch, shift the focus of the fabulous work sheís done. But sheís strong I see it in her eyes, this too shall pass. GO GABBY!!!!

Lol I know. What sickens me about the whole thing is that it is always one of us. It so sad to say that a lot of kids are teased because their parents may not be able to afford to buy name brand clothes shoes or follow any of the trends that kids follow today. The same way Gabby was distracted when she went for the gold the third time, is the same way kids are distracted in the school system for not looking like top model in a place where you go to learn. The people who were talking were grown which shows you that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. Alright, letís politick for a moment. Statistically, the black population has the highest poverty and prison rate in America. What do you think that we as a black community could do to change those numbers?

HONESTLY Spoken I donít know. I mean the black communities, individuals, have to want more for ourselves. As long as peopleís minds are limited so will be the change quite simply. Yes the government tries to hold us back that can no longer be the excuse. Every other race helps and supports their own but us. Until we are out of the crab in a barrel mentality things wonít change much. It comes down to the individuals, who come collectively as a whole, to be tired enough of poverty and crime to make the change.

That is so true. There is no real community without unity. The moment we thought that things were looking up for us, then comes drugs which increased the crime rate tremendously. After we cleaned most of that up then comes the negative rappers that promote the things that many of us have already overcome.† So instead of moving forward, it looks as if we are always falling back. I would like to thank you Tammie for taking the time out to chat with me today. I truly appreciate it!! This has been a great interview!! Please give our viewers the links to where they can follow your work.

Again I thank YOU Spoken for deeming me worthy of this interview and for all the positive you are doing through your music, spoken word and social activism, respect to you.†

Poetic Designs Radio: http://pdradio.site40.net

Poetic Designs Gifts: http://poeticdesigns.net

Poetic Designs Social Networking Site: http://poeticdesigns.ning.com

You are truly welcome Tammie and I look forward to chatting with you again soon!!††††

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