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Kitty Ford sprang to life inside Associated Recording Studios (familiarly known as “Associated”) in 1961. Located on 7th Avenue in New York, Associated was a two-minute walk from the famous Brill Building, epicenter of the American music industry that dominated the pop charts in the early 1960s.
Kitty Ford was the alter ego of singer Mimi Evans. who was married to musician, singer and songwriter Paul Evans (“Midnight Special”). Before she married, Mimi was the popular country and rockabilly singer Mimi Roman. Her “Brooklyn Cowgirl” years encompass an amazing story (see Mimi Roman – First Of The Brooklyn Cowgirls - Sundazed LP 5602).
After her voluntary retirement as a country singer following her marriage to Evans, Mimi began working as staff singer at Associated, providing vocals on demos for songwriters, including Burt Bacharach, Carole King, Kander and Ebb, and Neil Sedaka. Becoming staff singer at Associated allowed Mimi to seamlessly cross genres from country and rockabilly to pop.
“I worked for every great songwriter of the 60s. If they were alive and writing, I sang for them. I did their demos.”
On occasion Mimi cut a song and a record label would decide to put out her demo. This is how Kitty Ford was born. Smaller labels found they sometimes didn’t have to go into the studio and hire musicians and vocal talent. They simply released a demo they liked. These demos could often be of master quality, depending on how much effort and money the composers or publishers put into it.
Kitty Ford served as Mimi’s nom de plume when a record label wanted to put out one of her pop demos. Singer songwriter Paul Simon worked with Mimi at Associated, and labels put out his demos under the name “Jerry Landis.”
“I used to enjoy dreaming up an exciting life for Kitty. Mimi Roman was the singing cowgirl from Brooklyn, but I imagined Kitty Ford as being a sophisticated city girl.”
Here, Mimi/Kitty sings songs of teen love, angst and heartbreak – but first, the title song, – the breathy, sultry-edged “Pussycat,” a purring serving of catnip and a cataphonic delight. On “Think,” “Gee Mom,” and “Big Shot Nothin’ Bringer,” Mimi echoes the girl groups of that era, such as The Shirelles and The Paris Sisters. Mimi’s “Sad, Sad, September,” and her rendition of the Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me,” are reminiscent of the often heart-wrenching deliveries of Connie Francis and Brenda Lee.
Mimi also sang demos for big Broadway musicals, including Funny Girl, Chicago, and Bye-Bye Birdie. Mimi’s recording here of “I Love You Conrad” from Bye-Bye Birdie was likely the first version of that song ever professionally recorded. “Blue Diamond Ring” is pure Prison Noir – our big city heroine has taken the rap for her lover’s crime – “why doesn’t he write?” – she keeps asking. Poor thing.
After remaining in storage for more than half a century, these restored acetates and publishing demos show us another side of the Brooklyn Cowgirl Mimi Roman. Hey everybody! Here’s Kitty Ford, the “sophisticated city girl” with the heart, and voice, of gold!
- Joseph Hopkins (music historian)
Also available on CD!
Pussycat • Think • Harry’s Harem • Poupee • Pachanga • My Feelings For Charlie Changed • Sisal Twine • I Love You Conrad • Blue Diamond Ring • Let It Be Me • Rules Of Happiness • Gee Mom • I Can’t Run Away • Sad, Sad, September • Big Shot Nothin’ Bringer • When You Hurt Me I Cry