Zulema – 1973 – Ms. Z
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Excellent early work by Zulema – high-minded and righteous soul, with a really expansive sound that’s in keeping with the best on Sussex at the time! The arrangements are nicely complicated – arranged by Bobby Taylor and Gene Page with a good blend of funk, righteous soul, and some heavier themes – and even Zulema herself throws in some “special arrangements” for a few tracks. The tunes are mostly originals, sung in a heartfelt and rich style – and titles include “Giving Up”, “Tree”, “I Was There”, “I’m Watching You”, “Love Train”, “You Changed On Me”, and “Telling The World Good Bye”.
Zulema Cusseaux may not be well-remembered today, but in the early 70s she was making some fine music.
Hailing from Tampa, FLA, she was part of a local group, the Lovelies that was discovered by Van McCoy and renamed Faith Hope and Charity.
That group had two hits in 1970 – So Much Love (#14 R&B) and Baby Don’t Take Your Love (#36 R&B) – before Zulema left the group (which would continue to have hits into the late 70s) to go solo.
She signed to the Sussex label, recording her first solo LP ‘Zulema’ in 1972.
‘Telling the World Goodbye’ (from her second LP ‘Ms. Z’) was her first solo hit, making it just inside the R&B Hot 100 in 1973.
Produced by Bobby Taylor, ‘Telling the World Goodbye’ is a funky number recorded with a who’s who of West coast studio heads.
The tune has that very groovy, funk on the way to disco feel that was coming to prominence around that time (note the presence of Eddie Kendricks collaborator Leonard Caston on piano), making it a treat for the feet as well as the ears.
Zulema would chart three more times between 1973 and 1979, recording one more LP for Sussex, three for RCA and one for LeJoint before the end of the 70s.
She would eventually leave the music business to lead the band in her church, passing away in 2013 at the age of 66.
Enjoy her debut album on our back pages here.
Faith Hope & Charity on FMS here.