(From the soon-to-be-published novel Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)
Convincing Gladys Rhodes and Elenore Johnson to sign a recording contract for their daughters would be no easy task. Joseph sat across from them in a diner in Spanish Harlem. Both women eyed him suspiciously. He recognized Mrs. Johnson as the one who picked the girls up after they sang at the school recital. She didn’t remember him. The stout, stern faced women drank iced tea even though Joseph offered to buy them lunch. Fearing it might be a short meeting he ordered coffee.
They’d agreed to meet with him only after speaking to Curtis’ mom. She’d told them what she knew about Joseph helping the young boy from down south and about his plans to make records with other local kids. Now, he was telling them how talented their girls were and how he wanted to offer them a contract. When he finished, Gladys Rhodes acted as spokesperson.
“Listen, Mister, my sister and me have been raising these kids on our own for a long time. Elenore is a widow and my man…he just up and left us. We all live together, two grown women and three kids in one apartment. I work two jobs, day and night shift. That’s why I couldn’t be there at the school to hear my girls sing.” She choked back a tear. “Evie and my niece graduate next June, but Althea got one more year to go. They need the best education they can so they can get a high school diploma when they go out in the world to a get a job. How can I be sure all this foolishness about singing on records is good for them?”
“I understand your position, Mrs. Rhodes. There are a lot of talented young people making good money by making records. The girls can make more money working for me than by working in a bank or in an office. And I assure you both that singing for us will never interfere with their school work in any way.”
“And you’ll pay them for singing now?” Mrs. Johnson wanted to know.
“Yes. But, because they’re minors, you’ll be in charge of their money. They won’t be able to go on tour or anything until after Althea graduates. But they can make records right now and probably earn enough money so that you can get a bigger place or maybe even a place for each of you.
Gladys looked at her sister whose gaze begged that they accept the offer. She decided it was worth the risk.
“Alright, Mr. Rabinowitz, you have a deal,” she said. Her sister smiled.
With Mickey away on his honeymoon, it fell to Joseph and Curtis to put Evie’s trio through their paces. On their first visit to the studio, the girls listened to the raw material from Teddy’s audition tapes. Joseph worked up some vocal harmonies and Curtis helped arrange the songs they planned to record when Teddy got back.
During a break in the session, Evie drifted into the control room. She hovered over Joseph’s shoulder and didn’t wait for him to acknowledge her.
“So, the plan is for us to sing back- up for this Teddy guy?” she asked.
“For now, yes.”
“And then what?”
“Maybe back- up some of the other acts we sign. I don’t know yet.”
“My mama said you had a lot of nice things to say about us. Did you mean it or was it just a way to get what you wanted?”
“I meant what I said.” Joseph looked up at her.
“Why can’t we make our own records right now?”
“You will, in time. Like I told your mother, you’re too young for that. If you had hit records, you’d have to go out on the road, and you can’t do that until you finish school. Till then you’ll have to be content being…”
“Pixies?” Evie interrupted. “Flittering in the background on our little pixie wings?”
Joseph liked the image. “Pixies? Exactly! In fact, I think that’s what I’ll name your group. The Pixies.”
“You’re not having any of my nonsense are you?” she asked.
“Is that what this is, nonsense?”
“You go ahead, have your fun. I can be patient. But, don’t make me wait too long. I got big plans for my future.” She smiled and walked off. Joseph believed she meant every word.
Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "I love how your heart beats, whenever I hold you.
I love how you think of me, without being told to." From: I Love How You Love Me." By: The Paris Sisters.