Marva Holiday is best known for the irresistible Northern soul staple “It’s Written All Over My Face,” California born native Marva Holiday, and Her half-sister Yonnine, the daughter of jazz immortal Charles Mingus, who served as a kind of surrogate father to Holiday as well experienced a life f music. As a teen she sang with her local Baptist church choir, and later began composing songs of her own.
When GNP Crescendo exec Gene Norman received a copy of their “It’s Written All Over My Face,” he quickly signed Holiday to a solo deal, releasing the single in 1967.
Marva Holiday was a staff writer with Motown Records’ publishing arm, Jobete. In two years with the company, only one of Holiday’s songs ever made it to retail: Stacie Johnson’s 1973 single “Woman in My Eyes.” After several years of solo club dates, Holiday effectively retired from performing in 1977, co-founding her own publishing firm Scrunch Music. She later owned and operated her own Oakland-based label, Zipporah, and returned to the live arena as a gospel singer.
With “It’s Written All Over My Face” finally winning long-deserved attention via Britain’s Northern soul club circuit, in the summer of 2005 Holiday also made her U.K. debut at the Cleethorpes Mirwood Revue, performing alongside Matthews and singer Jim Gilstrap.
In tribute to summer love songs, Marva digitally released her new version of “To Love Somebody” on Friday, July 31, 2015. The song was originally written and recorded in June 1967 by the Australian rock group The Bee Gees.
“This release marks my effort to bring such songs back,” says Holiday. “Joining me on the song is Joe Chambers, former lead singer and songwriter of The Chambers Brothers, who recorded the ‘60s rocker ‘Time.’ Joe fronts his own group in Los Angeles, The Joe Chambers Experience. His soulful voice is tailor-made for this song, which some say had been written for Otis Redding.”
Holiday’s remake of “To Love Somebody” heralds a new phase in her music career which she calls “Part Two.” “It’s difficult for female performers who are middle-aged and older to return to the music business once it’s decided that they’re ‘too old,’” she notes. “I was pushed out of the industry by ageism, but I’m not letting that stop me from coming right back, right now!”
As her music career waned, Holiday raised her children and turned to other vocations. Unknown to her, she was lionized in Europe in the ‘70s through the “Northern Soul” movement which embraced records by ‘60s soul singers, even those who were not famous. Holiday’s 1968 single “It’s Written All Over My Face” became well known in Germany, the UK and other countries where “the scene” is popular.
Marva Holiday is planning to release an original composition, “Reflections” by early 2020, with an EP of original material to follow.
“One of my goals is to inspire older women,” says Holiday. “I will demonstrate that it IS possible to dust off one’s deferred dreams and ‘go for it.’ Age is nothing but a number. Making music, whether mine or that of others, energizes me. I will write and perform as long as there’s an audience.”
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