Born in Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood in 1952, Carl Carlton spent his childhood in a city that was on the verge of a new musical revolution. When Motown was founded in 1959, the signature “Motown sound” soon became a model for what everyone aspired to sound like. Carl Carlton began singing and recording in the mid 1960s after a fed-up neighbor who lived near a field used for baseball by the neighborhood kids heard Carl singing and initially thought that the kids’ radio was turned up too loud. When that neighbor was told by the other kids that it was actually Carl, he was taken to the Lando Records studio to record his soulful voice under the moniker “Little Carl Carlton” – a play off of the popularity “Little Stevie Wonder” was achieving at the time. He recorded the songs “I Love True Love,” and “Competition Ain’t Nothing,” the latter going on to achieve some popularity in the area and catch the ear of Don Robey’s Back Beat Records, located in Houston Texas. Carlton moved to Houston and throughout the 1970s, he recorded for Back Beat and achieved modest success, but it was a collaboration with soul-singer Leon Haywood and a contract with 20th Century that would lead to his biggest success as an artist. In 1981, 20th Century released “She’s A Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built, She’s Stacked)” which went gold and stayed at the #2 spot on the charts for eight straight weeks (ironically it was another Detroit native, Diana Ross, who kept him out of the #1 spot on the charts with ‘Endless Love’). Carl Carlton appeared on Solid Gold, Soul Train, and American Bandstand, but always made it a point to stop in his hometown of Detroit to play whenever the opportunity would arise.
Go back to 1981 and groove with Carl Carlton on his biggest hit, “She’s A Bad Mama Jama” below!