Ila Vann – The Singles Collection

Exclusively to FMS

This is a surprise post indeed. How many of you ever listen to Ila Vann?
Her “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” can be found to a few Northen Soul collections.
We feel extremely lucky that we have so many dedicated followers and Billy, a friend of ila’s kindly shares with us most of her 45’s. This is a private collection as ila never had an album released except those 45’s.

Ila Vann is the kind of performer you never forget, bubbling with energy and full of life, she has been performing since her mother brought her on tour with legend Mahalia Jackson.  Born in New Jersey, USA, Ila started her singing career as a child.  She eventually found her way to radio and signed a recording contract with the pop music label Liberty Records.
Ila hit Broadway in 1972 in the musical Inner City.  She later toured with the USO and had her first hit record, “Can’t Help Loving That Man” which captured No.1 in the UK.  She continued to be a sought after solo performer as well as providing distinct harmonies with pop greats Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, Ray Charles,  and Louis Armstrong.
Throughout the seventies, Ila toured extensively with her band Business Before Pleasure, which has gained a following in Canada, particularly Quebec.
Now Ila Vann divides her time headlining live shows and backing up top acts.

Review by Billy

Ila Vann got her start singing gospel with her family in chuch, and on their own local radio show.  Along the way they sang with The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Staple Singers, Clara Ward and Sam Cooke. Ila’s friendship with Sam led to her first recording contract with Arnold Records.  The songs in this collection capture two decades of Ila Vann’s recording career.

What’s The Matter, Baby‘ is a catchy, early soul song with a lively beat and a catchy chorus that should have been a hit.  Following this is ‘Cruisin’ With The Blues‘ and ‘What You Mean To Me‘, both written and produced for Ila by a waiter friend from a restaurant near her home at the time in New York.  These two tracks are reminiscent of the recordings that Gladys Knight & The Pips were making at the same time.

A switch to Roulette Records brought a more polished production style on songs like ‘Can’t Help Loving That Man‘, from the musical ‘Showboat‘, with a soulful twist.  This song later became a huge hit on the Northern Soul circuit in England.  Its flip, ‘I’ve Got The Feeling‘, was later covered by Darrell Banks.

Got To Get To Jim Johnson‘ is another favourite in England, with a slightly risque title to those in the know.  Ila’s final 45 for Roulette features the extremely underrated ‘Keep On Laughin’ Baby ‘ (Roulette 7036).  Its flip, ‘Every Little Living Dream‘, slows the pace as Ila shows off her vocal magic.  Following this release, Ila decided to break her contract with Roulette, after receiving no promotion for any of her releases there.

Ila’s friendship with songwriter Helen Miller offered her the chance to help sell the Broadway musical ‘Inner City‘, written by Miller and Eve Merriam.  The show opened on Broadway without Ila, after a producer thought she wasn’t ‘black’ enough to play her role.  When it came time to release a single from the show, everyone involved wanted Ila to record it.  ‘My Mother Said‘ was released in 1972 on Pickwick International Productions, along with the magnificent B-side, ‘You Made Me This Way‘.  This song was a big hit in Britain.  Although not from ‘Inner City’, it was also written by Helen Miller.

Ila recorded many demos for Helen Miller – one of these demos is included in this collection.  Ila recalls that ‘Now That I Need Him‘ may have been written for Gladys Knight.
Finally, ‘Flying Solo Tomorrow‘ and ‘No Good Jim‘ were released on Star Records.  Not much is known about these recordings, but the mixture of traditional soul strings and synthesised effects suggests that it was probably recorded in the mid-to-late 70’s.

Also featured is a 2003 radio interview with U.K. DJ Kev Roberts, illustrating Ila’s newfound success in the UK.

Ila Vann is a vastly underrated performer – recognition of her contributions to the Soul Music genre is long overdue.  She currently lives in Ontario, Canada, where she still performs.



Conversation for album: Ila Vann – The Singles Collection

  • JTF
    Posted at 00:05h, 20 March 2011 Reply


  • goo
    Posted at 01:19h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    great to see the site back up ! it looks super clean and fresh! infinite thanks for your work !!!

  • hipcat
    Posted at 08:19h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    nice new design! and nice post!

  • Les
    Posted at 11:20h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Never heard about her, but it sounds great.

  • J.L.
    Posted at 13:56h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Super! and great layout.

  • Dreamer456
    Posted at 14:31h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Thanks a lot.

  • Fred
    Posted at 15:05h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Thank you Nikos Wow – rare stuff here. Thanks

  • Holly
    Posted at 17:31h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Well, this is _lovely_! Thank you VERY much for sharing.

  • John
    Posted at 21:40h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    I wasn’t aware of this…looks great!Thanks

  • jahcisco
    Posted at 22:42h, 20 March 2011 Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Much appreciated.

  • Raphy
    Posted at 04:46h, 21 March 2011 Reply

    I’d a little problem finding the comment section, glad I did.
    Never heard of her until now. I just love to hear different voices (and singing style) rather that the same-O same-O. This proves that there are so many great singers that was left behind. Thanks for unearthing such talent.

    Big [email protected]!

  • Bobby
    Posted at 09:12h, 21 March 2011 Reply

    Amazing post! thank you so much…

  • rich
    Posted at 20:22h, 21 March 2011 Reply

    i love me some rare 45’s. great post nikos and whoever else helped u to get it together

  • myr
    Posted at 23:50h, 21 March 2011 Reply

    Nice new blog!!! Thank’s as always to share this great music! Greetings!

  • Ryan
    Posted at 00:52h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    Wow! This one is a real treat. Thanks so much!

  • gilhodges
    Posted at 05:21h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    Beautifully done. A wonderful tribute to an overlooked treasure.

  • cleffdeadly
    Posted at 12:32h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    had never heard of her and probably never would’ve if it wasn’t for this site! thanks again for all your hard work and for sharing gems like this… cheers!

  • Samantha
    Posted at 12:44h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    Thanks for introducing me to this fabulous lady.

  • k02
    Posted at 15:12h, 22 March 2011 Reply


  • Alex
    Posted at 23:50h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    Mmmmm, must try this one. Thanks!

  • Javier
    Posted at 23:54h, 22 March 2011 Reply

    Muchas gracias por subirlo, saludos Nikos.

  • Roger
    Posted at 17:16h, 23 March 2011 Reply

    Wonderful Post.

  • Anne
    Posted at 14:48h, 24 March 2011 Reply

    Real soul music will never die.

  • Albet
    Posted at 00:26h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    Impressive !!!
    Really collector’s gems.
    Greetings, Albet

  • Victor
    Posted at 00:37h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    Pretty nice share!, thanks so much for the effort.

  • Erin
    Posted at 11:50h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    This compilation looks great. Many thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:21h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    Total new name for me and a much overdue acknowledgement for a deep and powerful singer. Some mighty mighty strong tracks on here, my faves including “Keep on laughing”, “You made this way” and “My mother said”. Absolutely essential post and wonderful bio – this is exactly what FMS strives to try and bring every week. Another gold standard has been set !!

  • Trakbuv
    Posted at 16:22h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    I thought I’d add my name for the previous comment. And increase the comments by one 😉

  • Cody B
    Posted at 18:55h, 25 March 2011 Reply

    comin’ back strong…nice one.

  • pedro
    Posted at 14:28h, 29 March 2011 Reply


  • alex
    Posted at 18:27h, 09 May 2011 Reply

    hi nikos,
    what a coup!
    tremendous share indeed!
    again,thank you so much.
    please pass on my thanks to billy for a wonderful contribution & write up!

  • pedro
    Posted at 07:33h, 12 June 2011 Reply

    this is the 5th time i just thought i better put in a comment just say i do put THANK YOU,S in so thanks for this again i hope it there this time well no its not just a MT folder

  • Nikos
    Posted at 09:57h, 12 June 2011 Reply

    pedro, just downloaded both links and work fine. it seems you do something wrong. try again please.

  • Billy
    Posted at 07:33h, 27 June 2011 Reply

    Just found this track to add to this collection: Business Before Pleasure feat. Ila Vann – Prime Of Love.

  • 2phuckedup
    Posted at 18:12h, 26 March 2012 Reply

    I only see 1 link – guessing the 2 were updated into the 1. Thx Billy for the extra trak.

    Fantastic exclusive for FMS – well done guys 🙂


  • Saxguy
    Posted at 15:30h, 16 August 2012 Reply

    Thanks Billy. I know how much work you put into this labour of love.

  • thegroove
    Posted at 17:30h, 22 November 2013 Reply

    This is incredible. Wow! Belated thanks Billy.

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