Oct. 17, 1941 – Sept. 4, 2013
Barbara Spivey, known professionally as Barbara St. Clair and the woman dubbed “Buffalo’s Queen of Soul,” died on Wednesday at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care after a long battle with brain cancer. She was 71.
Ms. Spivey started singing when she was 8 and began her career in the 1960s as a member of R&B vocal group the Sessions. Later, she formed her own band, Barbara St. Clair & the Pin-Kooshins, and eventually landed as a vocalist with the soul/blues outfit the Houserockers.
She spent the 1980s outside of the music business, resuming her education and entering a career in nursing care. She returned to the spotlight in the early ’90s, fronting the band she would perform with until the end, the Shadows. She was well-known to audiences around Buffalo, performing often in the Shadow Lounge and at venues such as the M&T Noontime Concert Series and the Taste of Buffalo. She was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 1991.
Shadows bassist and musical director Chris Haug, in a statement posted on Facebook, had this to say about her:
“I will never meet a finer singer, a better teacher, a more giving person, or a truer friend. Her voice is that of an angel and her beauty truly radiates from the heart.”
Ms. Spivey was born Barbara Herrod in Birmingham, Ala. She was a graduate of East High School and worked for Allcare Family Services as a home health care aide until her retirement.
Ms. Spivey is survived by two sons, Jackie and Andre; a daughter, Dawn Scott; and a sister, Sheila Smith.
Friends are invited to attend visitation at noon Wednesday in True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St. Funeral services will follow at 1 p.m. Also, from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, friends, fans and fellow members of the Buffalo music community will gather at the Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst St., for a Barbara St. Clair tribute concert. The event, hosted by the Shadows, will feature performances from many of the musicians who performed alongside her over the years.