Lyn Collins, whose funky vocals landed her a spot early in James Brown’s stage show and the nickname “Female Preacher,” died Sunday in Pasadena, Calif. She was 56.
Collins, whose voice was also sampled in the 1980s hip-hop hit “It Takes Two,” died of cardiac arrhythmia at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, her son Bobby Jackson said.
“It was very sudden. Very unexpected,” he said, adding that she arrived at the hospital last Wednesday night.
Collins, who lived in Abilene, Texas, was visiting the Los Angeles area after having returned from a tour in Europe last month, Jackson said. She was due to start touring again next month.
Born in Dime Box, Texas, Collins took up singing as a teenager. At 14, she married a man who worked as the local promoter for the James Brown Revue. The Godfather of Soul heard Collins sing and in 1970 she was invited to join his traveling show.
Her powerful voice led Brown to nickname her the “Female Preacher,” and two years later, she cut her first solo album, “Think (About It).” In 1975, Collins released “Check Me Out If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
Over the years, Collins’ songs have also appeared in various compilations, but it was hip-hop duo Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock who exposed Collins’ work to a new generation when they sampled one of her songs for their 1988 hit “It Takes Two.”
“She was surprised and elated by how it took off,” Jackson recalled. “It really kind of spurred her. It really let younger artists know who she was.”
Since then, other contemporary R&B and rap artists have also mined Collins’ songs, including rapper Ludacris.
“She was a musical treasure that really didn’t get the recognition,” Jackson observed. “But she rose above that anyway.”
The singer was forced to limit her touring in recent years because of rheumatoid arthritis, Jackson said.
In addition to Jackson, Collins is survived by another son, Anthony, and four grandchildren.
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