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As an album title, Introducing Darlene Love sounds like a throwback, in the spirit of Here's Little Richard or Meet the Beatles. In fact, it's something closer to a joke: The woman behind these songs has been making music for 50 years, and it only took a few decades for people to learn her name.
Darlene Love's story represents one of the more remarkable resurrections in pop history. Though she began recording as a teenager, it was generally as a background singer. When she did score a major hit singing lead with her group The Blossoms, producer Phil Spector gave the credit to someone else. Her solo career started late and faltered — until a fateful night in the 1980s.
"I was working at a club in Los Angeles, The Roxy," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "Two of the people in the audience were Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt. And after the show was over, they came backstage. Steven said, 'Your voice is unbelievable. You need to move to New York and let me record you. If I get you a couple of jobs, would you come?'"
In New York, Love's talents would eventually come to the attention of a very famous late-night TV personality, leading to an annual event that would introduce her to an entirely new generation of listeners. Hear more of the story, and selections from the new album Introducing Darlene Love, at the audio link.