Barbara “Lady Love” Mason is a well-known singer/songwriter who, as a teenager, was one of the true pioneers of Philly Soul. Mason was born on August 9, 1947, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a homemaker mother and a father who worked for the Philadelphia water department.
Mason was the lead singer in groups she formed after winning local talent shows when she was 12 years old. She shared a house with Bill Oxendine, a Larks member who introduced her to Weldon Arthur McDougal III, a record label executive. Mason was then introduced to Jimmy Bishop, a local DJ and the founder of Arctic Records, by McDougal. Mason was signed to Bishop’s Arctic Record Co. and her debut single “Trouble Child” was released before she was 15 years old.
Mason released “Come to Me/Girls Have Feelings Too” in 1964, at the age of 17, and it was a moderate success. Mason, then 18, recorded “Yes I’m Ready,” her first hit in 1965, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart, No. 3 on the US Cash Box Top 100, and No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It even reached No. 12 on Canada’s Top Singles chart.
Mason’s second hit of the year, “Sad, Sad Girl,” peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard chart in October 1965, and was followed in 1966 by “I Need Love,” which peaked at No. 5. “Oh, How It Hurts,” her 1968 hit, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard chart. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head/If You Knew Him Like I Do” peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard pop chart in 1970.
Mason began recording with Buddah Records in 1972 and later that year released “Bed and Board,” which peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard chart. In 1973, he released “Give Me Your Love,” which peaked at No. 9, and “Child of Tomorrow,” which peaked at No. 79 on the Billboard R&B chart. Mason’s two 1975 singles, “From His Woman to You” and “Shackin’ Up,” peaked at No. 3 and No. 9 on the Billboard R&B chart, respectively. “I Am Your Woman, She Is Your Wife” peaked at No. 14 three years later.
Mason signed with WMOT Records (We Men of Talent) in 1980 and released two singles the following year: “I Never Love the Same Way Twice” and “She’s Got Papers, But I Got the Man.” Her success, however, was clearly waning. She founded her own publishing company, Marc James Music, named after her son, but left the music industry soon after.
Mason was invited to perform at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California, by producer Alan Beck in 1992. Mason began doing periodic performances after that outstanding performance. On the Sunswept Music label, she released “Feeling Blue” in 2007 and “The Soft Touch” two years later.
Mason was still performing to sold-out crowds in 2016; that year, she was part of a “Legends of Soul” concert, and in 2018, she headlined a “Forever Oldies Tour,” both at Long Beach’s Terrace Theater. On March 1, 2016, Mason was inducted into the Soul Music Hall of Fame.