In February 1998, CNN’s “Showbiz Today” profiled blues singer Mable John’s current avocation as a minister and advocate for the homeless. The singer, who toured with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday in the `50s, and cut classic blues for Motown and Stax before Ray Charles appointed her the leader of the Raelettes in 1968, had long since walked away from the limelight. In fact, she shed light on the unglamorous job of feeding and clothing Los Angeles’ homeless. Celebrity friends such as Sharon Stone, Valerie Harper, Whoopi Goldberg, Berry Gordy and the late Ray Charles supported John’s activities such as feeding 150 people a day and her annual Christmas party for hundreds who would celebrate the holiday without the basics that many take for granted.
More than a dozen years later, the 82-year old dynamo (nicknamed “Able Mable” after her 1966 R&B classic) continues to feed the homeless and says the need is even greater now than in 1998. “We need everything,” she says. “We need money, clothes, food and canned goods, blankets and everything a normal person with money would need. Come if you can donate something and come if you need something.” She adds that her organization has 501C3 status and all donors will receive a tax receipt. This year’s event takes place Friday, December 14th @ 10 am to 4 pm at the Marina Christian Center Building, 5730 West Manchester Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045.
John joined Motown in 1959 and recorded (with the Supremes and The Miracles among her back-up groups before they became famous) there until 1966 when she recorded the million-seller “Your Good Thing Is About To End” for Stax Records. Two years later, she began a decade run as Ray Charles’ lead Raelet. She left the organization in 1978 to become a minister of Joy in Jesus Ministries. More recently, John completed a trilogy of fictional books based on her life: Stay Out of the Kitchen (2007), Sanctified Blues (2007), and Love Tornado (2008) for Random House. John also recently starred with Danny Glover and Charles Dutton in John Sayles’ acclaimed film, “Honeydripper.”