Barbara Acklin started working at the Chicago office of Brunswick Record as a lowly receptionist in 1966, but she quickly moved from the reception desk to the recording studio.
After she co-wrote a top ten hit for Jackie Wilson, Acklin was signed to a recording contract. Her biggest solo hit, "Love Makes a Woman," reached #3 on the Billboard R&B chart in July 1968.
Later that year, she recorded a song titled "Am I the Same Girl," which was a minor hit. ("Am I the Same Girl" was co-written by Eugene Record, the lead vocalist of the Chi-Lites. A few years, Acklin and Record -- who eventually got married -- co-wrote the big Chi-Lites' hit, "Have You Seen Her?")
Here's Acklin's recording of "Am I the Same Girl":
Does that record sound familiar? It should.
"Am I the Same Girl" was produced by Carl Davis, who decided to strip Acklin's vocal off the record, add a piano solo to the background track, and release the resulting instrumental as "Soulful Strut."
|Isaac "Redd" Holt and Eldee Young|
"Soulful Strut" was credited to Young-Holt Unlimited, which had been formed in 1966 by bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac Holt. Both Young and Holt had been members of the Ramsay Lewis Trio, whose biggest hit was "The In Crowd."
Here's "The In Crowd," which is an instrumental worthy of being featured on 2 or 3 lines all by itself:
I've read that neither Young nor Holt actually played on "Am I the Same Girl." If that's the case, it's unclear why producer Davis credited that single to Young-Holt Unlimited. I'm guessing it had something to do with either money or sex. (On the other hand, it might have had something to do with both money and sex.)
In any event, "Soulful Strut" was a major hit for an instrumental, climbing all the way to #3 on the pop charts in early 1969.
Swing Out Sister covered "Am I the Same Girl" in 1992, and their version reached #1 on the Billboard "Adult Contemporary" chart that year. Martha Stewart later used the Swing Out Sister version as the theme song for The Martha Stewart Show, her syndicated one-hour talk show that began to air a few months after Ms. Stewart got out of the poke in 2005 and ran until 2012.
Here's "Soulful Strut":
Click below to buy "Soulful Strut" from Amazon: