Payin’ Dues: Saun & Starr

“We were trying to record something that we ourselves could put on the turntable and smile at,” says Starr Duncan Lowe about Look Closer, her debut recorded with friend Saun aka Saundra Williams. The pair have been singing together for a long time: as part of the Good N Plenty Girls, Sharon Jones’ wedding band in the 90s and now as The Dapettes, Jones’ back-up singers. “The process of singing behind Sharon is beautiful,” says Saun, “but fronting our own record meant Starr and I got to spread our wings a lot more.”

Who are your chief influences on Look Closer?

Starr: There isn’t a lot of precedence for a female soul duo like this. There are plenty of male groups – Sam & Dave, Bob & Earl, Eddie & Ernie, Bob & Gene etc – but not many women. I can only think of Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight, so we were mostly in uncharted territory.

You’re obviously huge music fans. What are your earliest musical memories?

Starr: Always listening to the radio at any time. The house was always filled with music and all kinds too, on TV, the record player, music filled my life.

Saun: My dad was an amazing singer. He would sing the classics around the house all the time… Wilson Pickett, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin. My daddy could sing! He definitely lit my torch… set it ablaze!/o:p

Carl’s Off The Corner club in Harlem played a role in your friendship didn’t it?

Saun: Oh yes, Carl’s Off The Corner was the venue in Harlem where Starr and I first met and heard each other sing. All our friends from choirs and bands went and created two degrees of separation, so we all knew somebody who knew someone we knew.

Tell us about being in the Good N Plenty Girls with Sharon Jones.

Saun: Back in 1991, Starr and I wound up at the same audition. A popular wedding band, John Castellano’s Good And Plenty was looking to hire a second female vocalist to join the singer they already had. The singer was Sharon Jones. So we both auditioned live and unrehearsed alongside Sharon at somebody’s actual wedding reception. Boy, did we have a blast! After the ‘audition’ they decided to hire both Starr and I and that’s when The Good N Plenty Girls were born. The three of us and the band just hit it off from the very beginning. What memories I have, wow./o:p

Look Closer is out on May 19 on Daptone./o:p