From a tin-top shack in Oneida, Arkansas to the Brill Building, the center of New York’s songwriting and music publishing industry, that was the journey of Rose Marie McCoy. She is one of the most influential and prolific songwriters of classic soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and gospel; and with over 850 songs published, in a career than spans more than 60 years, she has had one of the longest, most successful songwriting careers in history.
After beginning her singing career in Arkansas, she later found success performing in such venues as Harlem’s Baby Grand, Montreal’s Montmartre, Detroit’s Flame Show Bar, and Toronto’s Basin Street. But it was her skill as a songwriter that brought her fame. In 1952, Rose Marie McCoy wrote and recorded two songs for the newly formed Rhythm & Blues label Wheeler Records, Cheating Blues and Georgie Boy Blues. By the mid-1950′s, nearly every major recording artist was singing a Rose Marie McCoy song; and offers for positions at the top record companies, including Motown and Atlantic Records came her way. However, she chose to remain independent, an amazing feat for an African-American woman, during an era when gender and race were largely excluded from the business side of the music industry.
McCoy penned songs for such performers as Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Eartha Kitt, Bette Midler and Ray Charles. Elvis Presley recorded McCoy’s “I Beg of You” and “Trying to Get to You.” Ike and Tina Turner scored one of their biggest hits with McCoy’s “Gonna Work out Fine.” This song went gold and received a Grammy nomination. Other artist who recorded McCoy’s songs include Pearl Bailey, Maxine Brown, Shirley Caesar, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Patti Page, Debbie Reynolds, Lenny Welsh, Dinah Washington, Barbara Lewis, Del Shannon, Joe Medlin, Freddie Scott, Billy and Lilly, Tommy Sands, Marie Cole, Shirley and Lee, Sammy Turner, Solomon Burke, Toni Arden, The Crew-Cuts, Ellerine Harding, Annie Laurie, Al Hibbler, Vera Longus, Jimmy Rushing, Otis Williams, Billy Eckstine, Ella Mae Morse, Chuck Jackson, Eddy Arnold, Dizzy Gillespie, Brooke Benton, Buddy Ace, Varetta Dillard, Ivory Joe Hunter, Dee Irwin, Jane Froman, Shirley Ellis, Jimmy Rushing, Peggy Lee, Jean Wells, Jo Stafford, Georgia Gibbs, Joe Erskine, Bobby Vee, Wilbert Harrison, Linda Hopkins, The Platters, The Four Preps, Dakota Staton, The Harptones, Moms Mabley, Etta James, Gloria Lynne, Faith Hill, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.
In 2006, when American Songwriter Magazine paid tribute to nine all time great songwriters, Rose Marie McCoy was the only female named.