American pop singer, Sandy Posey, enjoyed success in the 1960s with singles such as her 1966 recording of Martha Sharpe’s compositions, Single Girl, and Born a Woman. She had three consecutive top-12 pop singles in 1966 and 1967. Her first smash hit, Born a Woman, sold over a million copies and earned her Grammy nominations for best vocal performance female and best contemporary solo vocal performance, male or female. Often described as a country singer, Posey’s musical works have varied.
She named second most promising female vocalist behind Nancy Sinatra by Record World in 1967. Meanwhile, Billboard had her as the Number 38 top U.S. artist, right behind Bobbie Gentry. She performed on the TV shows, American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, Where the Action Is, and Hee Haw. On top of that, Sandy Posey sang background vocals on such smash hits as Percy Sledge’s, When a Man Loves a Woman, and Elvis Presley’s, In the Ghetto, Suspicious Minds, and Kentucky Rain.
With such a mindblowing portfolio of music success, it’s surprising that Sandy Posey isn’t still in the spotlight today. So the question is, what happened to Sandy Posey? Join us as we take a look at the life and career of Sandy Posey and find out where she is today.
Sandy Posey‘s career was a dramatic Memphis success story
Born in Jasper, Alabama, in 1945, Sandy Posey grew up in West Memphis and graduated from West Memphis High School in 1962. As a teenager, she was reluctant to share that she could carry a powerful tune. But eventually the fact came out. Soon after graduating from high school, Posey got her first professional gig as a background singer in Memphis with Hurshel Wigington. The man who later established the vocal group The Nashville Edition. Word about Posey got out fast. And soon she was recording for Sam Phillips at Sun Records as well as for producers at Hi Records and American Records.
Session work kept her running back and forth between Memphis and Nashville. Posey ran into famed producer Lincoln Chips Moman after taking a job as a receptionist and backup singer at Royal Studio. With the talent and charisma that Posey possessed, she didn’t linger in the background for very long. Posey’s career has described as one of the most dramatic musical success stories of the many which have come out of Memphis in the years since Elvis.
That success however, did not come in an instant. Posey recorded the single, Kiss Me Goodnight in 1965, but for reasons unknown, she released it under the name Sandy Carmel. Some speculate that the decision to release it under a different name was simply because she was shy. Quite an important obstacle to overcome as a singer.
Three singles, three hits!
It was in 1966, that Sandy Posey began working with producer, Moman. Backed by acclaimed Memphis musicians Tommy Cogbill, Reggie Young, and Gene Christman, Posey recorded Born a Woman. Moman was happy to tell the world that it was a hit within a month. He also gave WMPS deejay Jack Grady a lot of credit for its success. As he played the record so much that it caught on with listeners. The single quickly made it to the Top 20, and eventually sold more than a million copies, earning Posey her first gold record. If that wasn’t enough, it also garnered her two Grammy nominations, although the awards went to others.
Knowing that momentum is a key to ongoing success. Posey and Moman were back in the studio a few months later. And came out with Single Girl, written by Martha Sharpe. Single Girl another hit that broke into the Top 10. Then, a few months later, Posey pulled it off a third time, with another hit called, I’ll Take It Back. Three straight hits was certainly an achievement that didn’t go unnoticed.
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Sandy Posey’s success allowed her to live where she wanted
In 1967, Sandy Posey opened up about how her life had changed. She had gone from an unassuming young woman to Memphis’ jet-haired songstress. Posey bought a new house for herself and her mother. Who despite the singer’s rapid rise to stardom, had been sharing an apartment in Whitehaven. The new home was apparently a contemporary design which conservative observers may call, “far out.” The so-called far out details included cypress siding, a steeply pitched room, and Mexican tile floors.
While Nashville was a recording center, once Posey had achieved a level of success. She was keen to live wherever she wanted, and where she wanted was Memphis. In Memphis, she continued to work with Moman, this time at American Sound Studios at Thomas and Chelsea. The producer happily bragged about the talent he was working with at the time. Which included Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett.
Sandy Posey was more comfortable in the background
Sandy Posey worked hard. She shuttled back and forth between Nashville and Memphis in the late 1960s. On the backs of her three big hits, Posey toured Europe in 1967 and made the acquaintance of Brit pop singers Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. She spent a month in Europe where her record company sent her for television appearances. And disk jockey shows in England, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. For a while, she had a nightclub act in New York City. She then took time off from that to return to Memphis to work on one of her albums.
She played dates with Sonny & Cher, Neil Diamond and Sammy Davis Jr., but her instincts told her she belonged in the studio as a background singer rather than in the limelight. After her record deal with MGM was fulfilled, she went back to session work. A career highlight was furnishing vocals on Elvis’s 1969 album, “From Elvis to Memphis,” which was produced by Moman. Her pipes can be heard on the songs, “Kentucky Rain,” “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.” She also sang background on his renditions of “Mama Loved the Roses,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace.”
Sandy Posey finally moved to Nashville
Sandy Posey moved to Nashville in 1971, in order to focus on country music. She had a Top 20 hit with Bring Him Safely Home to Me. But her career never matched the success she found in Memphis in the 1960s. She continued to record, both as a country artist and gospel musician, well into the 1980s. Posey is still active, currently signed with Crossworlds Entertainment. Moman, the producer who made her a star, passed away on June 13th, 2016. He was 79 years old.
Moman will be remembered as the American Musician, Songwriter, Producer and Studio Owner, who was responsible for numerous hits that came out of Memphis in the 1960s. Originally a rockabilly guitarist, he was part of the Stax Records crew as a writer and an engineer in its early years. He worked on such classics as William Bell’s, You Don’t Miss Your Water, and Carla Thomas’, Gee Whiz. In 1962, Moman founded American Sound Studio and, with his house band known as the Memphis Boys, the studio launched dozens of hits that blended rock, pop and soul, including the Box Tops’, The Letter, Neil Diamond‘s, Sweet Caroline, and Merrilee Rush’s, Angel of the Morning.
Sandy Posey is married to Elvis… sort of!
Sandy Posey, with hundreds of background recording sessions to her credit, is content to live a quiet life with her husband, Wade Cummins, who, in the guise of Elvis Wade, has been one of the top Elvis Presley tribute artists for more than 40 years. Cummins is a talented and gifted entertainer, born in the Watts Hill area of rural Tennessee. His father was a former moonshiner, and although they didn’t have much money, they were richly blessed with a musical form of folk art, the family circle, singing and playing music together.
Between Cummins’ mom and dad, they played 17 musical instruments. Cummins was the youngest of seven children and inherited their talents. Ironically, his first professional performances were not long after he, like many, saw Elvis Presley perform live on the Ed Sullivan Show. At only 9 years old, Cummins would accompany his uncle to neighborhood taverns and mimic Presley for dimes and quarters from cheering customers and friends.
At thirteen, Cummins joined his first band playing rhythm guitar and soon became their lead singer playing the bass guitar. By 16, he was performing in top night clubs. Later, he performed with the show band Lafayette and Les Sabres, and as lead singer with a powerful 4 octave range, he did many vocal impressions including Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Gary Puckett, Frankie Valli, and of course…Elvis Presley.
Eventually, after high praise, Cummins’ performance was transformed to focus on Elvis Presley, and Presley himself saw the show in 1976. The legend gave Cummins a standing ovation. One of only two such ovations ever reported seen by Presley staffers.
Posey and Cummins now spend most of the year in the Cedar City and winters in Florida, where they entertain large crowds practically every weekend.
Are you surprised that Posey isn’t still in the spotlight, or is it nice to see the reputation of a well-respected musician still kept intact to this day? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content.