Nellie "Tiger" Travis

Daddy B. Nice's #43 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Nellie "Tiger" Travis by Daddy B. Nice
 


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"If I Back It Up"

Nellie "Tiger" Travis

Composed by Floyd Hamberlin


February 1, 2014: NEW ARTIST GUIDE ALERT!



Nellie “Tiger” Travis is now the #17-ranking Southern Soul artist on Daddy B. Nice's new 21st Century Top 100 Countdown.

Go to Daddy B. Nice's new 21st-Century Artist Guide to Nellie “Tiger” Travis.

*************


May 8, 2011: NEW ALBUM ALERT

Bargain-Priced I'm Going Out Tonight CD

Comparison-Priced I'm Going Out Tonight CD

****************

See "Tidbits" below for the latest updates on Nellie "Tiger" Travis.

To automatically link to Nellie "Tiger" Travis's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other references, go to "Travis, Nellie 'Tiger'" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.


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Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:

In late 2005 a song called "If I Back It Up" electrified the Stations of The Deep South. Blessed with an unerring hook, a punching bass, and a horn chorus (and intro) so sweet it made sexagenarians jump out of their lawn chairs and chug to the beat, the song was an unabashed come-on from a female to a male suitor. The crystal-clear, instrumental introduction was so good almost any vocal treatment would have insured the song's good fortune, but it wasn't just any vocal. A young woman no one had heard of--Nellie "Tiger" Travis--segued into the body of the song with a voice so brawny yet feminine that it recalled the Peggy Scott-Adams of vintage classics like "Sweaty Men" and "I'm Willing To Be A Friend."

"I've been dancing in this club,
Babe, all night long.
You've been sitting over there,
Staring at me like something's wrong.

"I heard you holler, 'Back it up,'
And you gave me that sexy smile.
Baby, you sure look good to me,
And I like your style.

"If I back it up, what you gonna do?
If I put it on you, what you gonna do?"

Nellie "Tiger" Travis recalled the gritty Southern Soul singers who had attracted so many fans to the genre years ago. What a joy it was (back then) to stumble upon the stable of Southern Soul divas led by Scott-Adams, Shirley Brown, Lynn White, Barbara Carr and Denise LaSalle. What a thrill it was to hear Ann Peebles--just as if it were yesterday--singing "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" or Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Slow Roll It" or Ann Nesby teaming up with Al Green on "Put It On Paper." Nellie "Tiger" Travis was a performer in that storied soul tradition.

A slew of new female soul singers had emerged in the previous year, among them Little Kim Stewart ("Bootleg Baby"), Tazz Calhoun ("Stroke It Easy") and Miz B. ("My Name Is $$$$$$"), and another group of up-and-coming singers including Betty Padgett ("Never Coming Home"), Renea Mitchell ("Seventeen Days Of Loving") and Ms. Jody ("I Never Take A Day Off" and "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat") was matriculating even as Travis was.

But what distinguished Travis' CD was the song material--all written and produced by Floyd Hamberlin, one of Southern Soul's best composers--and the extraordinary number of radio singles it spawned. Travis benefited from Hamberlin's songwriting gift in the same way Peggy Scott-Adams had been blessed to be able to use her longtime collaborator and songwriter, the late Jimmy Lewis, to rule the soul diva charts in the nineties.

"If I Back It Up" was the first Travis song to rise up the charts, in late 2005. Next in line, dominating airwaves through much of early 2006, was "You Gone Make Me Cheat," another song with a great hook and horn chorus. A trifle more mellow than "If I Back It Up" (think Scott-Adams' "I'm Getting What I Want"), "You Gone Make Me Cheat" nevertheless stressed the powerful nature of Travis' style, always hinting at an underlying reservoir of strength and nastiness.

The latter half of 2006 marked the emergence of two more Travis songs from the CD: "Baby Mama Drama" and "Super Woman". "Baby Mama Drama" was a delicious concoction--almost poplike in melody. Yet it too had a cutting edge, thanks to lyrics that focused on issues all too familiar to second-time-around couples.

"Now your baby's mama is a clown.
I thought I was gonna have to beat her down. . .

"She calls your cell phone
A hundred times a day.
She ain't ever gonna stop,
No matter what you say."

This domestic strife played out over chord changes so sweet they made you want to drop to your knees and beg for more.

"It's a sad situation,
Bent on hate.
It ain't gonna do nothing
But escalate. . .

"I ain't used to
Looking over my shoulder.
If she rounds up on me again,
I'm going to floor her."

The ballad "Super Woman" was the slowest of the major chitlin' circuit hits from Wanna Be With You. A burned-out housewife's lament, it contained one of the most telling messages of this or any year:

"I ain't no super woman.
I'm only human.
No cape in the closet,
No magic wand. . . "

And it kept getting better:

"I hear kids running in the door,
It's the man of this house.
He's got this look in his eye,
And I know what that's all about.

"He wants to make love,
But I don't have the strength
He gets upset--
Now it's an argument."

Nellie "Tiger" Travis will be a force to be reckoned with in Southern Soul music for quite some time, if Wanna Be With You is any indication.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Nellie "Tiger" Travis

Nellie Travis was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Although reportedly a "tomboy" growing up (she was also a Homecoming Queen), she didn't pick up the nickname "Tiger" as a youth. That came later, as a result of a decision by Nellie to add something memorable to her performing name in the fashion of artists like Koko Taylor, Big Time Sarah, Big Cynthia and Little Kim Stewart.

Nicknames are best bestowed by others. One night (the story goes) while brainstorming the idea with her cousin, Nellie came up with the nickname "Angel." Nellie's cousin immediately rejected it. "Nahhh. How about 'Tiger'? Nellie 'Tiger' Travis?" It had a special ring and a special rhythm to it, and "Tiger" stuck, not least because it hinted at the feline-like intensity of Travis' vocal style.

As a child, Travis sang in church and local competitions throughout Mississippi, graduating to lead vocalist of a regional group called SSIPP (fronting touring R&B headliners) before moving to Chicago in 1992. In Tyrone Davis' Windy City Travis honed a nightclub act that featured classic blues and R&B favorites like Koko Taylor's "Wang Dang Doodle," Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary," material that amply showcased Travis' own powerful and gritty style. Her debut CD, an out-of-print blues-dominated disc titled I Got It Like That, appeared in 2000. Music fans who have heard the song "Oil And Water" and wondered when Travis recorded it, or if it were something new. . .? This is the CD.

For Southern Soul fans, the most fortuitous development in Travis's career was her collaboration with Chicago-based, Southern Soul composer Floyd Hamberlin. Hamberlin had established a reputation as one of the most unique and prolific of the current generation of songwriters, having written everything from Artie "Blues Boy" White's classic "I Can't Afford To Be Broke" to Will T.'s recent "Mississippi Boy," along the way writing major portions of the Southern Soul catalogs of Tyrone Davis, Stan Mosley, Charles Wilson, Lee Morris and Cicero Blake.

Hamberlin was ready to produce a record, and in late 2005 the CD Wanna Be With You came out on the Floyd Hamberlin/DA Man label. Filled with first-rate Hamberlin songs executed by Travis in a strong and distinctive Southern Soul style, one track after another found favor with chitlin' circuit audiences, giving the album a high profile through 2005 and the entirety of 2006. Besides garnering Nellie "Tiger" Travis a slew of awards (See Daddy B. Nice's Top Southern Soul Songs 2006), the album's depth and quality established Travis as one of the most visible young artists on the Southern Soul circuit.


Song's Transcendent Moment

"If I back it up, baby,
What you gonna do?
If I put it on you, baby,
What you gonna do."


Tidbits

1. March 29, 2008

The highly-anticipated second album by Nellie "Tiger" Travis is due out in April on new label CDS Records. The first single leaked from the CD, "Slap Yo' Weave Off, is a monster cut with Nellie in the "fighting" form we all love. (See Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten Breaking Southern Soul Singles for March 2008, holding down the number two spot.) (Update: Now #1!--April 2008.)

"Slap Yo Weave Off" sounds like a Floyd Hamberlin, Jr. tune--more good news, since his material was instrumental in the success of Travis's debut disk. CDS says Chicago-based Hamberlin produced the upcoming CD. Stay tuned, because your Daddy B. Nice will be all over this one.

DBN

Nellie Travis fans already familiar with this page are also recommended to browse in Daddy B. Nice's new "Comprehensive Index," where more entries and links for Nellie "Tiger" Travis will take you to other locations on the site where she's mentioned or talked about.

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2. April 12, 2008. Nellie "Tiger" Travis has a You Tube video out. Fans can view a photo-montagage of Southern Soul's striking new diva (to the accompaniment of "Slap Yo' Weave Off" at
Nellie On You Tube.

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3. September 4, 2008:

With five straight months, and four separate songs, on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Southern Soul Singles, beginning in March 2008, Nellie "Tiger" Travis's new CD I'm A Woman is a "keeper"--the album to buy if your wallet is thin. With songwriter/producer Floyd Hamberlin Jr. supplying the grade-A hooks and Travis supplying the voice and the passion, this duo recalls the heyday of the late Jimmy Lewis and Peggy Scott-Adams.

These are songs that are good for driving, good for doing dishes, good for any chore in addition to being good for all the more obvious pleasures. And I'm just talking about the fast songs. I haven't even dipped into the depths of the somber and epic ballad, "Don't Touch Me."

(The above piece ran on Daddy B. Nice's Corner in July and August 2008 under the title "Southern Soul CD's at Mid-Year: What To Buy, What To Avoid. . . Best CD For The Money")
DBN

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4. May 31, 2009:

Daddy B. Nice contratulates Nellie "Tiger" Travis for the following recent achievements in her short but illustrious career:

Southern Soul Dominators: Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul Artist Power Index for 2008: based on singles chart entries, annual awards, and other related references and milestones in the year just passed:

Nellie "Tiger" Travis: Daddy B. Nice's #1-ranked Southern Soul Performer

The "Daddies": Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul Music Awards for 2008:

Daddy B. Nice Southern Soul Music Award for Best Female Southern Soul Vocalist of 2008:
Nellie "Tiger" Travis ("Slap Yo' Weave Off," "I'm A Woman," "M.O.D. (Man On Drugs)")

The Daddy B. Nice Southern Soul Music Award for Best Southern Soul CD Of 2008:
Nellie "Tiger" Travis (I'm A Woman, CDS)

Daddy B. Nice's #2-Ranked Southern Soul Single ("Slap Yo' Weave Off") and #11-Ranked Southern Soul Single ("I'm A Woman") for 2008.

Congratulations! And owing to these accomplishments, Nellie "Tiger" Travis has taken another huge leap up Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Artists and Top 100 Southern Soul Singles Chart (90's-00's), from the #73-ranked artist to the #50-ranked artist.

--Daddy B. Nice

P.S. See Daddy B. Nice's Concert Calendar for Nellie "Tiger" Travis's Chicago-area performing schedule for the summer of 2009. This is a young Southern Soul artist you will not want to miss--an artist in the prime of her career playing in small, intimate venues on a weekly and monthly basis.

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5. November 15, 2009. Nellie "Tiger" Travis's Typical (Local) Chicago-Area Performing Schedule: Every 3rd Monday:
Geno's -- 2401 S. Ashland Ave, Cal Park, Illinois, 7-11 pm

Every 4th Monday:
Larry's -- 295 E. 147th St., Harvey, Illinois

Every Thursday: Blue Chicago, 536 N. Clark St., Chicago, Illinois, 9 pm-1:30 am.

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6. January 2, 2010: NEW ALBUM ALERT:

I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand (CDS, 2009)

Bargain-Priced I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand CD, MP3's

First recommended single:

"Queen Of The Blues" (A tribute to Koko Taylor)

First impression:

From Daddy B. Nice's "The Year In Southern Soul":

"Nellie "Tiger" Travis shuns the wild success of her Southern Soul I'm A Woman CD for the more straight-traditionalist-blues sounds of her hometown Chicago."

DBN

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7.

Originally posted Feb. 27, 2009, Revised March 3, 2010

NELLIE "TIGER" TRAVIS: I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand (CDS) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

In the so far short-lived but brilliant career of Nellie "Tiger" Travis there was a precursor to this puzzling new album-- I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand. Sometime after Nellie's stunning debut, Wanna Be With You, the album that introduced Southern Soul fans to undisputed new classics like "If I Back It Up" and "You Gone Make Me Cheat," a song named "Oil and Water" began circulating among some deejays.

I remember being frustrated for the better part of a year (especially since I had immediately championed Nellie's debut CD) by why I had never received a copy and why I never heard it played anywhere. Eventually, I did get a chance to hear it and I was disappointed. And I instantly understood why no one had felt compelled to send me a copy or play it much. "Oil And Water" was a standard bar blues, one of the most elementary chord progressions in all of music, elevated only slightly by Travis's brawny pipes. And it really didn't fit at all into the brand or image that Nellie had forged with Wanna Be With You.

If the new album, I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand, Nellie's third, were a debut by an unknown artist, it would be difficult not to give it at least three stars for solid effort and future promise. But coming after the best one-two punch of any young Southern Soul artist of the last few years--the albums Wanna Be With You and I'm A Woman--it would be a disservice to fans expecting more of the same to describe it as a "solid" follow-up.

And after I'm A Woman, Nellie's second album and easily the most dazzling and seminal Southern Soul album of new label CDS Records' fledgling catalog, chock-full of Southern Soul gold hits like "I'm A Woman," "Slap Yo Weave Off," "Saw It On Oprah" and "M.O.D. (Man On Drugs)," the new album sends at best a confusing message.

On the other hand, for those who are interested in hearing Travis "stretch out" into the greater world of blues and funk and light, bar-level rock, there is much to satisfy any taste.

"Tiger By The Tail" is a generic blues--

"Man up baby,
And get yourself up to scale."

--followed by another blues, "Clean It Up"--

"I smell another woman on you."

--followed by "In Love With A Man I Can't Stand", a funk outing, very down, very late-period Sly & The Family Stone,

"Do What He Didn't Do" is catchy if not exceptionally soulful.

"Understanding," one of many funk-based, Carl Marshall-written tunes on the CD, and a couple of Dylann DeAnna compositions are similarly interesting but well below the incredibly high bar Nellie set with her first two CD's.

I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand is a generous album, eleven full-fleshed cuts, but the drop-off from the "Tiger's" previous work is nowhere more telling than in the fact that the finest song on the album, "MOD (Man On Drugs)" is a reprise from I'm A Woman, and the second-best song, "Let's Get It Poppin'," the only other Floyd Hamberlin-written song on the CD, is just middlin' by the standards he has established.

Floyd Hamberlin, of course, was the man-behind-the-scenes on Nellie's first two albums--both producer and songwriter--and I've often compared the powerful impact of their collaboration to Southern Soul's ultimate diva, Peggy Scott-Adams and her songwriter/producer until he passed away, Jimmy Lewis.

Why upset the apple cart? Is this the music the Chi-Town locals are asking Nellie to sing? Are you really telling me Chicagoans are shunning the five-star Southern Soul Nellie made with Floyd Hamberlin?

Speaking of Peggy Scott-Adams. . . "Queen Of The Blues," a tribute to Koko Taylor and one of the better songs on the album, put me in mind of the voice-over on Peggy Scott-Adams' song, "I'm Changing."

"I lost a very good friend of mine not long ago," Peggy voices over. "I'm talking about my friend Johnnie Taylor. And I was talking to Jimmy Lewis, my producer and also my friend, that I would like to do one of Johnnie's songs, a tribute to him. Jimmy said, 'Peggy, that's a great idea, but everybody else is doing them right now, and we don't want to seem like we're capitalizing on the situation.'"

In fairness to Nellie, Scott-Adams did end up doing the Johnnie Taylor tune--"I'm Changing"--a "little later," as Peggy says. However, Koko Taylor did not make her reputation singing sentimental odes like "Queen Of The Blues."

Koko climbed the peak of the blues by singing kick-ass ditties like "Wang Dang Doodle," just the kind of material this album so sorely lacks, and just the kind of material that Travis was making with Hamberlin with hits like "Slap Yo' Weave Off" and I'm A Woman.

This isn't a bad album--Nellie's fans will want to add it to their collections--but it's not an album that will satisfy Nellie's most ardent Southern Soul fans.

--Daddy B. Nice

Bargain-Priced I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand CD, MP3's

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Honorary "B" Side

"You Gone Make Me Cheat"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy If I Back It Up by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
If I Back It Up


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy You Gone Make Me Cheat by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
You Gone Make Me Cheat


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm A Woman by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
I'm A Woman


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Slap Yo' Weave Off by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Slap Yo' Weave Off


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Baby Mama Drama by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Baby Mama Drama


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Saw It On Oprah by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
I Saw It On Oprah


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy M. O. D. (Man On Drugs) by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
M. O. D. (Man On Drugs)


CD: I'm A Woman
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm A Woman


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Super Woman by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Super Woman


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Queen Of The Blues by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Queen Of The Blues


CD: I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Sex Machine by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Sex Machine


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Tornado Wrapped In Fire by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Tornado Wrapped In Fire


CD: I'm Going Out Tonight
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
I'm Going Out Tonight


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy What You Won't Do by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
What You Won't Do


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Who's Fooling Who? by Nellie 'Tiger' Travis
Who's Fooling Who?


CD: Wanna Be With You
Label: Floyd Hamberlin/Da-Man

Sample or Buy
Wanna Be With You


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