Wilma Burgess (1939-2003) moved from Florida to Nashville in the early 1960s, and worked in obscurity for several years, eventually switching labels over to Decca where producer Owen Bradley crafted arrangements that better suited her pop-oriented style. Burgess broke through with a series of modest hits, including her highest-charting single, the emotive "Misty Blue," which hit #4 on the charts and was typical of her languid, ballad-based repertoire. She was one of those artists whose early promise gradually tapered off, and her future singles inched downwards, until she fell of the radar altogether. In the early '70s she recorded a few duets with Buddy Logan, but her hitmaking days were basically behind her. Burgess is notable, though, as a pioneering gay musician in Nashville: she was openly "out" for her entire career, and even opened a bar called the Hitching Post, which is said to have been one of the first lesbian/women's-only bars in Nashville. Here's a quick look at her work...
Wilma Burgess "Don't Touch Me" (Decca, 1966) (LP)
Wilma Burgess "...Sings Misty Blue" (Decca, 1967) (LP)
Wilma Burgess "Tear Time" (Decca, 1967) (LP)
Wilma Burgess "The Tender Lovin' Country Sound" (Decca, 1968) (LP)
Wilma Burgess "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow" (Decca, 1969) (LP)
Wilma Burgess & Buddy Logan "Wake Me Into Love" (Shannon Records, 1974) (LP)
Wilma Burgess "Could I Have This Dance" (Columbia/51 West, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Jackson & David Thompson)
It's kind of fitting that Burgess covered Crystal Gayle's big '70s hit: that song, along with other slick ballads on this album are extensions of the same kind of pop vocals-influenced material that she recorded in the '60s, setting the pace for crossover artists such as Gayle in decades to come. Unfortunately, this album is fairly uneventful -- Burgess seems to have been game, though while she projects enthusiasm into her performances, her voice sounds kind of old and worn-out, and the studio band are clearly just going through the motions. It's worth checking out if you are a fan, but it never really catches fire.
Hick Music Index