Nancy Butts came Sparta, GA and was the lead singer in her family gospel group the Butts Sisters before she tried her hand at secular music. Like Gloria Walker, she first recorded for Eugene Davis’ Crow/Flaming Arrow concerns and her initial release was the upbeat “Your Friend Will Take The Man You Love”. Her next 45 was the quality deep Go On To Her which revealed a more confident vocal with a particularly good sense of dynamics. Even better was her final single for the label Please Please Tell Me Baby featuring a fine cheesy organ behind another strong performance. I especially like the way she slides into some notes – really effective.
Nancy then signed for local DJ Hamp Swain’s Jar-Val label and although the strengths of her flexible, emotive voice were already clear from her earlier releases Swain lifted her onto another plane as a vocalist via higher production values. Her first Jar-Val release coupled a fine cover of Don Covay’s brilliant “Letter Full Of Tears” with the self-peneed (like so many of her discs) Only One Love. And I would think that this track would rank as Nancy’s best effort with it’s short rap intro and breaks and heart-felt, super charged vocals. Love the horn charts too. No wonder this was picked up by King for national distribution.
Her second Jar-Val single was almost as good, with the exquisite deep “I Can’t Love But One Man At A Time” being another super vocal – throaty and full of feeling. Her final 45 for the label was the easy paced swing of “I’ve Been Blind Too Long” with its super horn charts. Nancy’s last 45 would appear to have been as the lead vocal on New Love Ltd's Arco 45, a fine ballad entitled "One Man At A Time" in the mid 70s. She sadly passed on a few years ago from cancer.
UPDATE ~ I'm very pleased to say that members of Nancy's family have been in touch. They are rightly very proud of Nancy's recordings and it has given me - and I trust them as well - great pleasure to send them CDs of all of Nancy's recordings.
I want to hold your hand baby / Your friend will take the man you love ~
FLAMING ARROW 19 (1968)
You're gonna need somebody / Go on to her ~ CROW 37 / FLAMING ARROW 38 (1969)
Let me be free / Please please tell me baby ~ FLAMING ARROW 39 (1969)
Only one love / Letter full of tears ~ JAR-VAL 7 / KING 6405 (1971)
Too many yesterdays / I can't love but one man at a time ~ JAR-VAL 14 (1972)
I've been blind too long / Inst ~ JAR-VAL 17 (1973)
One man at a time / Universal funk ~ ARCO 100 (1977?)
Note – Nancy Jar-Val recordings can be found on the Grapevine UK CD “Macon Soul Soup” (GVCD 3034).
I'm grateful to Pete Nickols for the Billboard image below.