If R&B solid gold from the ’80s or contemporary gospel count among your favorite genres of music, then there’s one name that should immediately come to mind: Shirley Murdock.

Best known for her gold-selling signature song, “As We Lay,” a moving ballad (produced by Roger Troutman) which focuses on infidelity and its ramifications, the soul music legend from Toledo, Ohio also scored big with several other songs that have since become classics.

Who can forget “Go On Without You” or “Computer Love” which she co-wrote – both tunes being among the most frequently played songs on R&B radio stations from D.C. to Detroit?

Now, Murdock has added another classic to her repertoire with an inspiring new rendition of The Impressions’ 1965 inspirational top hit, “People Get Ready” (Degroat-Murdock Enterprises/Tyscot).

In an interview that can be seen on our website, Murdock speaks with this reporter about her gospel roots and early years in Toledo, moving to Dayton, Ohio, where she now lives with her supportive husband, the challenges she faced by her fans, friends and church members because of her decision to record both gospel music and more provocative songs like “As We Lay” and why she chose to remake “People Get Ready” which was written by the incomparable Curtis Mayfield.

In the wake of the social and political polarization that has erupted over how to confront the coronavirus and police brutality, Murdock said she believed the time was ripe for a little Curtis Mayfield wisdom.

“I was inspired to re-cut The Impressions’ 1965 gem, ‘People Get Ready,’ after seeing the social unrest that exploded globally over the death of George Floyd,” she said. “I was so moved and hurt about how the police murdered that man with no just cause.”

“I wanted to make a statement that we need to get along and be respectful of each other. That’s when I thought of this song by Curtis Mayfield [who was the chief songwriter and soloist for The Impressions]. I’ve always loved the song and thought it was a fitting message for this moment.”

“Listen to my version of “People Get Ready” on your favorite digital platform by tapping this link: https://smarturl.it/7b2rxh​,” she added.

And even with the pandemic and the world remaining on lockdown because of COVID-19, Murdock says she’s remained busy.

“I’ve been doing virtual events and I launched a YouTube channel,” she said. “Once a week, I post an inspirational message on there to encourage people.

(The link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEGLnQ0uR1gyLZv54k41oMQ)

And as a respected songwriter, she’s also continued to write music. Besides “Computer Love” as mentioned above – a collaboration with The Zapp Band and Charlie Wilson – she’s co-written several of her own hits such as “In Your Eyes” and “Let There Be Love.”
Many of the songs which bear her name have also been sampled by a who’s who in the urban community: Chris Brown, Bryson Tiller, Ne-Yo, Whiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, Notorious B.I.G., SWV and Tank, among others.

More About ‘People Get Ready’

“People Get Ready” is a 1965 single by the Impressions, the group’s best-known hit, and the title track from the same titled-album. The gospel-influenced track was a Curtis Mayfield composition that displayed the growing sense of social and political awareness in his writing. Rolling Stone magazine named “People Get Ready” the 24th greatest song of all time and also placed it at number 20 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

In 2015, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. named the song the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement and often used it to get people marching or to calm and comfort them.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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