Doris Troy
(Filed: 20/02/2004)

Doris Troy, the American soul singer who died on Monday aged 67, was best known for her 1963 hit Just One Look; she also inspired, and performed in, the award-winning gospel musical Mama I Want To Sing.

In London Doris Troy worked with a number of British acts, including the Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. She was the only female soul singer to be signed to the Beatles' Apple label in the late 1960s, and her distinctive voice came to the attention of 1970s rock fans on Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon.

She featured on the Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want and Dusty Springfield's In The Middle Of Nowhere, and contributed to albums by artists such as Carly Simon, Humble Pie, and Bob Marley.

The daughter of a Baptist minister, she was born Doris Higgensen in Harlem, New York City, on January 6 1937. As a young girl, she sang in gospel groups, and when she was 16 she found work as an usherette at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, where she met stars such as Pearl Bailey and James Brown.

Having adopted the professional name Doris Troy, she joined a jazz vocal group called the Halos and began writing songs, providing a hit for Dee Clark in 1960 with How About That. She then contributed backing vocals for the Drifters and Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick before, in 1963, releasing Just One Look (which in 1964 was to become a hit in Britain for the Hollies), followed by Whatcha Gonna Do About It.

Doris Troy recorded one album for Atlantic in 1963, and singles for Calla and Capitol, before coming to live in Britain in 1969. She recorded an album for Apple on which she performed alongside stars such as George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton.

Returning to America in the mid-1970s, Doris Troy settled in Las Vegas, performing with Lola Falana and making occasional recordings. In 1984 she began her long starring role in Mama I Want To Sing, the musical which tells her own life story and which was written by her sister, the broadcaster Vy Higgensen, and her brother-in-law, the producer Ken Wydro.

The show, in which Doris Troy played her own mother Geraldine, toured for 14 years in America and beyond, including a six-month run in London's West End.

In 1996 Doris Troy was presented with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.