Her secular career was launched in 1965 and after a couple of singles on Detroit's Ric-Tic label, she landed on Chess. She was eventually sent by the label to Muscle Shoals where she recorded some defining late-1960s deep soul records like "Dirty Man,: and "Upright Good Man".
It was during her stint with Detroit label HotWax/Invictus (run by Holland, Dozier, Holland) that Laura Lee struck a chord with Women's Lib Movement. Her songs became anthems demanding gender equality and respect on a number of levels.
Though, my favorite Laura Lee record is from the years just after that period. It's a more subtle Laura Lee, perhaps inspired by Al Green (whom she had been reportedly dating). This is a Holland-Dozier-Holland composition (they too recorded a version of it) and is presumably produced by them. For me, this is the sweetest 70s soul gets. At the time of this recording Laura Lee would have been 34, a bit more worldly and wise, perhaps a bit broken by the travails of love. Her brilliant performance as a wearied women desperate to save a fading relationship coupled with the gorgeous multi-layered HDH production (complete with strings, congas, shimmery keyboards, and a subtle psychedelic effect) make with record absolutely irresistible to me.
While I LOVE and appreciate Laura Lee's previous respect-demanding records, there's something about the vulnerability revealed in this performance that really grabs my heart. Perhaps it's reassuring to know that even seemingly strong women are susceptible to heartaches too, and that's ok.