Luther Ingram's Lasting R&B Sound

Luther Ingram, who died Monday, sang the 1972 hit "If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right," and co-wrote the Staple Singers song "Respect Yourself."

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

And finally we've got some sad news.

Luther Ingram sang the 1970s R&B hit "If Loving You Was Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)." He has died at the age of 69. The Jackson, Tennessee, native grew up singing with his family's band in southern Illinois. And in the late 1960s, Ingram joins Stax Records in Memphis. He co-wrote the Staple Singers hit "Respect Yourself."

(Soundbite of song, "Respect Yourself")

Mr. ROEBUCK STAPLES (Vocalist, Staples Singers): (Singing) Take the sheet off your face, boy. It's a brand new day. Respect yourself. Respect yourself.

Mr. BERNIE HAYES (Journalist): His music was his life and he impressed me with that.

CHIDEYA: Journalist Bernie Hayes knew Ingram for years.

Mr. HAYES: He could, you know, sit down and listen to a phrase or see a sign on a billboard and say, man, what a good title of a song that would make and start composing from there.

CHIDEYA: In 1972, Ingram recorded his biggest hit, "If Loving You Was Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)." The song topped Billboard's R&B chart.

(Soundbite of song "If Loving You Was Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)")

Mr. LUTHER INGRAM (R&B Singer): (Singing) If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right. I don't want to be right if it means living without you.

CHIDEYA: Luther Ingram kept performing until he became sick in the mid-1990s. He died on Monday from heart failure. Bernie Hayes says Ingram lived for his music.

Mr. HAYES: He sang with his head and his heart. He sang with everything about him and, oh, he'll be missed. He can't be replaced, that's for sure.

(Soundbite of music)

CHIDEYA: That's our show for today and thanks for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show, visit npr.org. NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium. Tomorrow, anti-abortion activists court African-Americans.

(Soundbite of song "If Loving You Was Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)")

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Baby, baby, I'll be missing you since I said to you that we were through.

CHIDEYA: I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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