Ada Richards

Born in rural Birmingham, Alabama, in 1926, Ada Richards sharpened her raucous vocal-and-barrelhouse-piano approach by providing entertainment at her father’s card parties. Seeking work, she left home after high school, ultimately settling in Detroit and opening a beauty parlor. From the tape to the session musicians, “I’m Drunk And Real High (In The Spirit Of God)” was paid for by salon profits. Ada shopped the reel around Detroit before ending up at Earnest Burt’s Magic City label in Grand River, Michigan; Burt agreed to issue a 45 on his Hello World imprint in exchange for a share of the publishing. Basing her lyric loosely on the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Richards bursts through the speakers with an irrepressible fervor, commanding the kind of attention only a seasoned 45-year-old street performer could. After failing to deliver its message en masse, the single fell out of print, prompting Richards to reissue it on her own. Ada Richards would release two more 45s in the 1990s under the name Ada Zachery on Real Rhythm before closing the gates to her beauty empire and retiring.

Ada Richards Appears on: