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The First Cut

It is 1964 in Los Angeles, and PP Arnold has just auditioned as a backing singer for Tina Turner. She is now feeling extremely anxious. Not because she is on the presence of a famous singer, and not because she has performed miserably. In fact, the strength of her performance has been such that Tina Turner has already offered her a position as an Ikette.

Furthermore, she is now insisting that PP come and see her perform in Fresno that night. Which is fine, except that there's one major problem. "I can't go", PP explains. "My husband is already going to kill me for being out this late."

"Girl," Tina says, reaching out to her, "If you're going to get into trouble, you might as well really get into trouble."

Today, PP Arnold laughs at that memory. "In life," she says, "you get one or two chances. That was mine, and I took it."

PP saw the Ike and Tina revue perform that night and she was blown away. Then she went home where her husband was angrily waiting for her, reaching him at about six in the morning. He hit her as soon as she walked in.

But that time, she grins, "it seems he knocked some sense into me. From that moment on I knew I was going to do it."

In the 60's every American soul singer of note learned their craft in the church, and PP Arnold was no exception. "I come," she says, "from a family of gospel singers. My sisters and brothers, my mother and father, my grandmother, my uncles, we were the full gospel Baptist choir at out church."

Born in the South Central area of Los Angeles (then known as Watts), PP Arnold developed her pure vocal skills praising the Lord until the day she fell in love. She was 15 at the time. "I let the guy I had fallen in love with talk me into missing school one day. As a result, there was a bun in the oven. So my father pulled out his shotgun, and we were married."

It was not a happy marriage. PP played the dutiful wife until the day she undertook a singing session with Gloria Scott and Maxine Knight. It was through them that she auditioned for Ike and Tina Turner and won her place as an Ikette.

 


 

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