Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Robert Kelly My Time To Win One Way

My Time To Win

I thought I'd post up one of my Christmas presents which came via soul's answer to Father Christmas UK record dealer Andy Dyson! I was so "surprised" that my wife Barbara knew what to ask him for!!!

Robert Kelly was originally in the Kelly Brothers and was the lead tenor voice on many of their Sims and Excello classics. Most of what we know about the group comes from Robert Pruter's notes to the cracking Kent CD The Kelly Brothers; Sanctified Soul.

Three brothers, Andrew, Curtis and Robert who originated from Shelby, Mississippi before migrating to Chicago in the late 40's hooked up with Offe Reese to form the original Kelly Brothers group.

The group had a few early gospel releases on Chance and Brewster before getting deals with Vee Jay and Nashboro for a few 45s. In 1960, they signed with Federal and stayed with the label for 2 years and released 7 gospel 45s and and album. This exposure led to them touring the States with the likes of The Clara Ward Singers, Soul Stirrers, Dixie Hummingbirds etc.

The Kelly Brothers like many others moved into the secular field in 1963 and decided to reinvent themselves as the King Pins for their 7 R&B Federal 45s and one album. When Federal folded in 1964, the group moved over to the Nashville based Sims label and reverted back to their original name. They recorded eleven 45s and one album for the Sims label. Robert Kelly wrote many of these songs with his brother Curtis. Robert usually sang lead on the uptempo and Curtis on the ballads. Robert continued to play guitar during this period on the group's 45s.

You can see footage of the Kelly Brothers during the Sims period in the previous post when they performed on the Nashville The Beat TV programme. The Kelly Brothers made 2 appearances on The Beat and recorded 4 songs for the 2 shows.

In 1967, Nashboro picked up the Sims catalogue and began issuing the Kelly Brothers new recordings on the company's Excello imprint. Excello released an album on the brothers entitled "Sweet Soul" which was given a release in the UK on President as mentioned in a previous post on UK released soul. After 5 singles with Excello, they were dropped by Nashboro in 1970.

The Kelly Brothers continued singing secular music before moving back into the gospel field and performed off and on from the 70's into the 90's.

If you want to hear more Kelly Brothers music then drop by Jason Stone's Stepfather Of Soul blog.

At some stage, not mentioned in Robert Pruter's notes, Robert Kelly recorded "My Time To Win" for the Chicago based One Way records run by Offe Reese. I would date the 45 as early 70's and I only know 2 other releases on the label by Faith Gage and Jimmy & Eddie but I am sure there are probably others. I have known the Robert Kelly release for many years but had been uanble to get a copy until last month.

The other side of the One Way 45 is "Grade School" which is more uptempo and has another worthy vocal by Robert. Both sides are produced by the Kelly Brothers and Offe Reese. Reese also wrote "My Time To Win" and may have written other songs during this period. It is interesting that Robert Kelly didn't use one of his own songs after writing so many sides for the Sims and Excello releases

So I am left wondering whether Robert Kelly ever recorded any other solo 45s and if the Kelly Brothers still perform? It is now 10 years since Kent's CD was first released and probably longer since Robert Pruter gathered the information for the CD notes.

Offe Reese continued his One Way productions into the 21st Century with the likes of the Gospel Paraders CD recorded at the Soto Sound Studio in Chicago in 2004. Offe Reese also had gospel shows on WGCI 1390 and WCEV 1450 in Chicago and as far as I know is still active in Chicago in the gospel field.


  1. Great stuff, very much in the style of what John Ellison did..raw, gritty, grits and gravy...

  2. Hi Barry

    Yeah gritty!!! Mention of John Ellison has prompted me to think of writing a post on him and sharing some photos of him performing in New Orleans - it has joined the list of jobs!!!