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Rose Marie McCoy

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Rose Marie McCoy

Rose Marie McCoy
Birth name Rose Marie Hinton
Born (1922-04-19)April 19, 1922
Oneida, Arkansas, United States
Died January 20, 2015(2015-01-20) (aged 92)
Champaign, Illinois, United States
Genres Jazz, rhythm & blues, soul, traditional pop
Occupation(s) Songwriter
Years active 1942-2015

Rose Marie McCoy (April 19, 1922 – January 20, 2015) was an American songwriter, influential and prolific during the 1950s and 1960s. Her songs, co-written with others, were successfully recorded by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Big Maybelle, and many others.

Life and career

Early life

She was born Rose Marie Hinton into a farming family in Oneida, Arkansas, and later married James McCoy.[1] She moved to New York City in 1942 to pursue a singing career. After starting her career singing in bars in New Jersey,[2] her vocal talent got her bookings at famous venues such as Harlem’s Baby Grand, Detroit’s Flame Show Bar, Cincinnati's Sportsmen's Club, and Toronto's Basin Street.

Songwriting career

In 1952, Rose Marie McCoy wrote and recorded two songs for the newly formed Brill Building.[2] One of the first songs she was asked to write was a half-spoken, half-sung song, “Gabbin’ Blues”, co-written with Leroy Kirkland, and sung by Big Maybelle with the spoken part provided by McCoy herself. “Gabbin’ Blues”, which reached #3 on the Billboard R&B chart, was the first big hit for Big Maybelle and the songwriter’s first hit.[3]

McCoy wrote other songs for Big Maybelle, and other popular R&B artists including Louis Jordan (“If I Had Any Sense I’d Go Back Home” and “House Party”) and co-wrote, with Fred Mendelsohn, Nappy Brown's 1955 single "Don't Be Angry" (also recorded for the pop market by the Crew-Cuts).[4]

In 1954, Rose Marie McCoy teamed with songwriter Charles Singleton.[5] They soon scored their first hit, “It Hurts Me to My Heart”, recorded in 1954 by Faye Adams. Their collaboration lasted about eight years and, individually and together, they penned many hits for the top artists of the time, including Elvis Presley’s "I Beg Of You", The Eagles' “Trying to Get to You" (later recorded in Presley's Sun Sessions), Ruth Brown’s “Mambo Baby”, and Nappy Brown’s “Little by Little”. Singleton & McCoy tunes were also recorded by Nat King Cole ("If I May", "My Personal Possession"), Little Willie John ("Letter from My Darling"), Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Eddy Arnold, The Five Willows, Big Joe Turner, The Du Droppers, Little Esther, The Clovers, and many other top artists of the time.

After the Singleton and McCoy team parted, Rose Marie McCoy continued to write songs on her own and collaborated with other writers. Noted for her independent stance, McCoy turned down several opportunities to join major record labels such as Motown, Stax and Atlantic.[2] Her most successful song of the 1960s was “It's Gonna Work Out Fine", co-written with Sylvia McKinney,[3] which became Ike and Tina Turner’s first top 20 pop single in 1961 and their first Grammy nomination. She also collaborated successfully with songwriter Helen Miller, writing "We'll Cry Together" for Maxine Brown, and "Got to See If I Can't Get Mommy (To Come Back Home)" for Jerry Butler.[3]

Though she is most often associated with songs recorded by R&B artists of the 1950s and 60s, Rose Marie McCoy has written many jazz, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, country, and gospel songs. Jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott recorded nine of her tunes, and Sarah Vaughan recorded six of her songs, five of them on the singer’s 1974 album Send in the Clowns'.

Many other artists have recorded some of the over 800 songs she published, including but not limited to: Joe Erskine, Bobby Vee, Wilbert Harrison, Linda Hopkins, The Platters, The Four Preps, Dakota Staton, The Harptones, Moms Mabley, Etta James, Gloria Lynne, Faith Hill, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.

Later life and recognition

McCoy was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey from the 1950s.[6] She was honored by Community Works NYC in their 2008 exhibition and concert series "Ladies Singing the Blues." McCoy received a five-minute standing ovation during the award ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City for her contribution to music. To the delight of the audience, "It's gonna work out fine" was played as she was escorted to the stage.

A biography, Thought We Were Writing the Blues: But They Called It Rock 'n' Roll, was written by Arlene Corsano and published in 2014.[7]

Rose Marie McCoy died at her home in Champaign, Illinois, on 20 January 2015 at the age of 92.[8]


  1. ^ Rose Marie McCoy, Sunset Funeral Home. Retrieved 29 January 2015
  2. ^ a b c Guy Arseneau, "Long Playing: Rose Marie McCoy is still churning out the tunes at 92". Retrieved 24 January 2015
  3. ^ a b c MusicVf.comCharted songs written by Rose Marie McCoy, . Retrieved 24 January 2015
  4. ^ The IndependentNappy Brown Obituary in
  5. ^ Singleton was a co-writer of "Strangers in the Night" and other hits. See Talk:Trying to Get To You.
  6. ^ Grasso, Katie. "Behind the lyrics lies a legend", Teaneck Suburbanite, February 18, 2009. Accessed February 18, 2009; no longer online or archived (October 2011).
  7. ^ TheSoulBasement.comBook review, . Retrieved 25 January 2015
  8. ^


  • Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Broven, John, "The Story of Rose Marie McCoy", Juke Blues, Issue 26, Summer 1992, pp. 8–15.
  • Freeland, David, "Rose Marie McCoy," American Songwriter, Vol 21, No. 3, March/April 2006, pp. 65–67.
  • Rose Marie McCoy papers.
  • Rosenbaum, Dan, "Songwriting Sistas", Music Alive, Vol. 26, No. 5, Feb. 2007, pp. 2–3.

External links

  • Official site
  • "Lady Writes The Blues: The Life Of Rose McCoy", audio and text at
  • "Songwriter is in the spotlight, at last, at 86", news item at, 19 February 2009.
  • Rose McCoy at Arkansas Black Hall of Fame
  • Rose Marie McCoy at AllMusic
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