RAREST SOUL LABEL
>Shrine records was formed in 1965 by Raynoma Gordy and
Edie Singleton in Washington DC. It lasted for two short years
and then it was gone. Now like so much of DC's music history it
is all but forgotten.
When Berry Gordy was a fledgling song writer Raynoma
worked as his partner in there music business. She managed
the technical and practical side of the business. Coaching the
artists Berry managed and helping them refine there vocal
skills, teaching music theory and arranging sessions.
Soon she was transcribing songs, as well as composing, and
writing lead sheets for both session musicians and for
copyright registration purposes. Berry Gordy was the
businessman and creator, but Raynoma had the musical
expertise. The goal was to become a major record label. Berry
Gordy had a hard time making a deal with the major labels, and
forming an independent label seemed impossible. Raynoma
suggested a compromise. The formation of a music company.
This company was called the Rayber Music Writing Company. It
was formed as a 50/50 partnership between Raynoma and Berry.
They had a deal where they would produce a finished demo for
$100 and place it with local publishing or recording companies.
Soon they had saved enough money to move on to start their
The first song recorded was "come to me" sung by Marv
Johnson. Berry negotiated a 3000 advance for the master from
United Artists and the rights to distribute locally on his own
In January 1959 Talma Records and Jobete music were legally
formed as a company. The record "Come to me" was Issued as
Berry and Raynoma were married in 1960. Raynoma took over
as executive vice president of Talma Records and she also
managed Jobete and supervised the day to day operations. At
this time, according th Berry Gordys book "to be loved" by
1963, the marriage began to deteriorate. Infidelity and fighting
led to a quickie Mexican divorce.
Raynoma was working on reestablishing her own life and felt it
was time to make a break from Berry Gordey. She suggested
they open an office in New York city. The office was located in
the famous Brill Building.
With assistance from her half brother,Stanley "Mike" Ossman,
Ranoma attempted to get new acts accepted to Motown.
Eddie Singleton Was an important part of the New York music
establishment. In 1959 he started a music business and built
up an impressive roster of artists. He placed his recording
with many labels and arranged and produced sessions with
Etta James, Ester Phillips, Lloyd Price, Kenny Welch, Sonny Till
and Billy Stewart. In addition to his production work he
managed Flip Wilson and Tony Orlando. He also owned the
Keith Record label, which was the first black owned label
distributed through the London Record Group. Eddie
Singleton was well connected and he was involved in all
aspects of the music industry in New York City.
He started publishing songs through Jobete and over the
course of time he and Raynoma developed a romantic
relationship. It was not long before they were living together.
Even though Raynoma and Berry Gordy were divorced, and
Berry was involved with other women, he was still possessive
of Raynoma. Eddie Singleton was uncomfortable with the
situation, especially since it effected the business.
Raynoma placed a number of songs with company other than
Motown, but only the Chiffons"Love so Fine" made it to the
Money was becoming tight. In April 1964 Raynoma requested
funds, Motown rejected the request. She was determined to
get funding how ever she could. Since she was an original
member of Motown's Bord of directories, she felt justified in
pressing 5000 copies of Mary Wells "My Guy",which she sold at
local record stores for .50 cents apiece. With in a week
Motown lawyers had Raynoma and Eddie Singleton arrested for
bootlegging and thrown in Jail.
Raynoma was given two choices. She could ether be
prosecuted for bootlegging and face a prison term of up to 20
years or sign a general release from Motown and it's entities.
She chose the general release and received a non negotiable
settlement for 10,000 dollars, allowance and child support.
Raynoma and Eddie Singleton decided to make a fresh start
and create there own record label. They chose Washington DC,
because it had a large market, A lot of talent, and nobody
recording soul music.
Both Raynoma and Eddie were deeply effected by the death of
John F Kennedy. They felt that their record label should reflect
the dreams and aspirations that Kennedy represented. They
called the label Shrine Records out of respect for Kennedy
and because they hoped the company would mirror Kennedy's
hopes for a brighter future.
The publish company they established was a blend of the
names of Ranoma, Mike Ossman and Eddie Singleton, who
owned Shrine. It was called Ramitary Music. The songs written
in the months just prior to and during the time in DC were
registered under that company name. Jackie Wilson recorded
the first effort "She's All Right" in August 1964.
The intention was to establish a company that would provide
services equivalent to Motown - finding and fostering artists,
recording them and getting their records on the radio and in
The first record was released in 1963 recorded by Linda Tate
and the Vistas called "Bad Apple".
The next recording was Leroy Taylor and the 4 Kays "She Went
The third recording was by the Cautions called"Watch your
Step". That recording was a local success.
At this time a deal was struck wit ht the Schwartz Brother
Distribution Company in Maryland to widen the distribution
territory of the label.
An investment group consisting of Lewis Deyoung,
Christopher Cerf, Demitri Villard and Blair Butterfield, all
Harvard graduates from New York, interested in the record
industry suggested a partnership with Eddie Singleton.
In exchange for Eddie's know how they created an investment
group that supplied Shrine with much needed cash.
From this partnership "Jet Set Records" evolved as Shrine's
Jackie Wilson admired a track Eddie Singleton recorded of
Jimmy Armstrong released on July 19th 1965. This led to
Singelton's time as the A7R Director of the Brunswick label. He
and Ranoma spent the nest ten monthse producing Jacie
Wilson in New York.
1966 was a frantic year for Shrine. The new distributor and the
Jet set investment group put the pressuer on and expected
the m to come up with the goods.
Singleton was not completly satifyed with the product, but he
arranged for a mass pressing of records.
2,500 copies were pressed in the initial run. Some of the
records were sent to the record distributer, some stored at
Singletons home, and the rest were at the Shrine offces. They
allowed people to take the copies home with them. This first
release was the Epsilons "Mad At the World". It was such a big
hit over the tristate area that a second pressing was nessisary.
It looked like
Things were picking up, but trouble was just around the
In 1966 Motown Dominated the the black music market. They
sold records by the millions. They also had a stranglehold on
the market that made it all but impossible for independent
labels to break in. It was well known tht Motown would witdraw
favors if radio stations and distributers dident go the Motown
A rival buisness started by Berry Gordys X wife was never
going to get a favor from Motown. The exact story is not
known, but slowly, Shrine noticed a reduction of airplay and
demand in sales.
The loss of revenue caused the investors to hold back new
money. They demanded a return on the original investment.
This started to take a tole on Singletons health.
At this point Eddie Singleton took a job with Septter/Wand as
head of A&R. This meant he commuted between New York and
DC three day a week, attempting to keep Shrine from going
under. In November 1966. After a financial deal fell through,
shrine was finished.
Eddie Singleton called a meeting and told every one at Shrine
that the decision was made to close shop. Singleton recalled"
We Were out of money and I was out of energy...the blackest
day in my life was when I called the meeting and had them all in
my office, I couldn't continue... I walked away and didn't look
back, it was too painful".
Raynoma agreed to go back to Motown and single ton worker
there for a few months as well.
When the left DC all their material positions were left behind.
All the tapes were left at the recording studio, the 45 were left
at the home, in the office and at the Schwartz Brothers
distributing. The Schwartz stock was moved to the Waxie
Maxie warehouse which latter burnt down.
Information taken from liner notes " Shrine the rarest soul
label" released by Kent Soul
|Shrine Artists Leroy Taylor
and the 4 Kays