Wendy Rene

1947 - December 16, 2014

Wendy Rene Artistfacts

  • Memphis soul singer-songwriter Wendy Rene was born Mary Frierson. She got her stage name from Otis Redding, who became her friend. She sang backup on many of his records.
  • Along with her brother Johnny, she formed the singing quartet the Drapels, who auditioned for Stax in 1963. The group was offered a recording contract, but the label also wanted Rene as a solo artist after they heard some of her original compositions. She released her best-known singles "After Laughter (Comes Tears)" and "Bar-B-Q" the following year.
  • Stax continued to use the Drapels as backup vocalists, including on Wendy's later recordings, still uncredited although they did receive royalties.
  • Much of what she recorded was never released until recently (with compilations like 2003's You Thrill My Soul and 2012's After Laughter Comes Tears: Complete Stax & Volt Singles + Rarities 1964-1965). She was considered to be outside the usual type of Stax artist and they couldn't find a way to market her. She is said to have "unique swooning vocal cries" which come from her gospel heritage.
  • Married to James Cross from Stax Records in 1967, she had her first child later that year and planned to retire to concentrate on her family. She was supposed to do one last show with the Bar-Kays but decided against it. She was home with her daughter on December 10, the night of the tragic plane crash in which Otis Redding and four of the Bar-Kays died.
  • She continued to live in Memphis with her family. She was a member of the Bountiful Blessings Church of God in Christ and sang in their gospel choir. She died of a stroke December 16, 2014. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ekristheh - Halath, for all of the above

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