Melinda Doolittle Wields A Mighty Broom

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Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Dust My Broom"
  • Artist: Melinda Doolittle
  • CD: Coming Back to You
  • Genre: Soul
Melinda Doolittle 300

A backup singer turned American Idol star, Melinda Doolittle proves she belongs in the spotlight in "Dust My Broom." courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Think of it as the revenge of Melinda Doolittle. The self-effacing former backup singer came in third on America Idol in 2007, behind Blake Lewis and winner Jordin Sparks, before disappearing from public view. Now, she returns to the limelight with her first album, Coming Back to You, in which the young soul singer proves that she belongs front and center, belting out songs old and new.

"Dust My Broom" was recorded by the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson back in 1936, and Doolittle tackles it with strength while avoiding histrionics. She knows her way around a bluesy run, she sings with a well-placed rasp and she rides herd over powerhouse horns, driving drums, funky keyboards and an army of backup singers. The only false notes come from the repeated chiming of what sounds like a gong.

Though a memorably straitlaced performer, Doolittle sounds more than a little bawdy singing, "I'm going to get up in the morning / I believe I'll dust my broom." But no less an authority than Big Joe Williams defines the phrase as, "I'm putting you down. I won't be back no more." As Doolittle dismisses a lover with a mix of pain and authority, it's not a stretch to theorize that she's putting her American Idol run behind her, too.

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