Cody Black

About Cody Black

Northern soul perennial Cody Black was born in Cincinnati in 1939 -- according to the profile at, he grew up just blocks from the headquarters of King Records, and by his teens was a steady presence in the label's offices. In early 1956 Black joined the local R&B group the Victorials in time to appear on their lone single for Imperial, "I Get That Feeling." A U.S. Air Force stint followed, and upon returning to Cincinnati in 1959, he discovered the Victorials were no more. In time, he met Motown producer and songwriter Mickey Stevenson, who encouraged him to relocate to Detroit. Black instead remained in Cincinnati, making his solo debut with the 1961 Pamela label release "Come to Me (Girl)." "The Camel Walk," credited to Cody Black & the Celestials, followed on the Universe imprint a year later, and when neither managed to generate much interest, he finally made the move to the Motor City.
But when Black showed up at Motown's offices and requested to see Stevenson, the receptionist was so rude that the singer walked out in anger, for several months earning a living painting houses. In time he met D-Town label owner Mike Hanks, who signed Black as an A&R exec. He also wrote songs for the label, and in 1964 finally got a chance to record with "Move On." The gorgeous floater "Mr. Blue," a longtime Northern soul club favorite, followed in 1965. After only one more D-Town release, "Would You Let Me Know," Black moved to Hanks' Wheelsville subsidiary for 1966's "I Will Give You Love" before leaving the company in frustration. He landed with rival Detroit indie Ram Brock, in 1967 releasing no fewer than three singles: the local hit "Going, Going, Gone," "The Night a Star Was Born," and "Reap What You Show." He also returned to Cincinnati to cut 1968's "I'm Slowly Molding" for King.
After signing with Aretha Franklin's husband Ted White's Ston-Roc label, Black resurfaced in 1969 with "I Still Love You." The record caught the attention of major label Capitol, which in 1970 released a pair of Black efforts, "Fool on the Wild" and "Ain't No Love Like Your Love." Both singles flopped, and he spent the better part of the decade touring nightclubs, in 1977 launching his own label, Detroit Renaissance, to release "Keep On Trying." After just one more single, 1978's "Sweet Love," the company collapsed. After more than two decades out of the public eye, Black returned in 2000 with Singing Cody B. Black, issued on producer Sir Mack Rice's Mustang Sally label. He was also a steady presence at Northern soul showcases in the years to follow. ~ Jason Ankeny