Vera Carey

of The Persianettes

Accompanying Cindy Scott on her recent trip to the UK and helping out on back-ground vocals was Vera Carey, one-time member of The Persianettes.

Vera tells her story....

"I was in born in Camden, New Jersey, and I started singing in school. From kinder­garten onwards, we were taught singing and vocal parts, so I was always harmonizing. I thought that was the greatest thing in life. So I always had a singing friend that I could sing a part with. My first was Brenda Kilgore and then Lucille Dunbar. She and I used to sing together all the time, we were inseparable. It was Lucille who brought Timmy Carr [Carstarphan] to my house. She knew Timmy through his family and the church. Timmy was starting a group and he wanted some female back-up singers. Lucille was one and, because we used to sing together, she came to my house with Timmy to get me involved.

"There was also Frances Wallace, whom I hadn't met at that time but we had then planned to go on over to see her. She joined us but after a while she had to leave because she was married and she thought she should back out. So Helen Hutchinson came in and the group sound changed a little because she was a true first soprano, so Lucille moved to the middle and I did the bottom harmony. Helen, like Lucille and I, went to Camden High School but she was a little older than us - I think she graduated around '63. I don't know if she had been singing with anyone before us but we all gelled so well, we didn't even need music.

"We weren't called the Persianettes initially - we weren't called anything! But all of us knew we had to get a name because we had been told that we might be recording, so we sat down to think of something that sounded good. I had a paper with me which was turned to the travel section with features on places to go and I happened to glance at it upside down and saw 'Persia'. Every group at the time had an 'ettes' at the end, the Marvelettes... And I just said 'Persia-ettes, Persian-ettes, hey  the Persianettes!' It sounded great to me. I knew nothing about Persia or what it represented at that moment but it sounded good, certainly better than the Spain-ettes or Ital-ettes! People thought the group had been named because of a cat or something but no, I don't even like cats!

"We did our first recordings with Timmy. I think the first one was 'Timmy Boy'. Timmy was a short guy, about five-five, but he was stocky. He was no little pushover. He was like a weight-lifter, mus­cles, all muscles. I was still at Camden High when we did our first records. Our first one for Guyden was 'Only Now And Then' [c/w 'I Could Never Stop Cryin' - #2104]. Burt Bacharach arranged that one and we had a whole orchestra on it, violins, oboes, timpanis, guitars, clarinets, the lot! I was so amazed that we had such rich music, I was expecting just a little quartet type thing. We recorded it in New York, I think 'Only Now And Then' was cut at RCA Studios.

"When we moved to Ben-Lee, we worked with Leon Huff and sometimes he would rehearse us at Timmy's sister's house. Once he got to know our sound, he started to write songs with us specifically in mind. It was through him that I met Sundray [Cindy Scott] as she was recording and writing with him at that time. [The Leon Huff/Cindy Scott composition, 'It Happens Every Day' was issued as Or 1256].

She and I hit it off real well and we became good friends from then on. We split from Timmy in '64 and went off on our own. They thought we girls could stand alone too, especially as Lucille was such a good singer. She was the 'Supreme' of the Persianettes! We went to Swan for a couple of songs. 'What Good Is It' [issued as parts 1 & 2 -Swan 4271] and 'Run Run' [unissued until 1996, when released in the UK on Kent cd 'Swan's Soul Sides - Dance The Philly, CDKEND 120] were actually ones that Sundray did and we did others that didn't come out. I found out later that they used them as demos for the Three Degrees.


"We broke up sometime around 1966. Lucille was singing in church on a regular basis. She was starting to gain weight and 'they' - principally Richard Barrett - were trying to talk to her in the nicest possible way about controlling it. But she wasn't having it. When she would sing in church on Sunday, everybody loved it. No one ever talked to her about her weight there, they weren't worried about that, they just said 'Praise The Lord!'. But for [secular] club work, they wanted us to look a certain way, have a certain style, and that meant her being told to lose weight. I think this began to hurt her feelings and she just took the choice to stick to singing in church. It just didn't sit well and she decided to leave. Helen and I discussed going on with another girl but Lucille was so much my idol, I didn't feel we could carry things off. Maybe now I would think differently."

"Indeed it was a privilege with much pleasure to have accompanied Cindy Scott, my dear friend and sister on her recording mission in England during April 1999. Upon arrival at the airport the open arms of David Powner and Keith Doy embraced us. Both Dave and Keith were total strangers to me then, but in a very short period of time we became loving friends and road buddies. These guys truly have the gift of hospitality. I loved every moment of my stay in England due to their care and genuine concern for our well being in a foreign land. For a minute I thought I was the Queen of England. The natives of England in some way helped me to come to my senses quickly. Cindy and I worked together as diligently as possible with one single goal in mind, that was to complete the task at hand, a hit CD. There has never, ever been a time when I have actually felt that Cindy's ship had finally arrived as it was upon completion of the entire recording. Even though battling hoarseness she fought to the end and kept the faith.

Photo: Vera Carey & Cindy Scott at BBC Radio Shropshire
"Memories of our past vocal experiences with the Persianettes were reborn. We truly had a soulful sound then and I believe that her new recording has captured a spark of the blast from the past! If you ask me personally what my favorite side of the CD is I would have to answer "it's the same side the fans have considered to make this record hit the charts." One thing I am positive, there is music on this CD - The Loving Country that will appeal to every listening ear."

"While in England I gave Dave Powner a new name. Yes, I call him "The Hitman." As a producer his aim appears to be on target. The bulls eye is #1 on the recording chart. Now the rest is up to the listening ear of the people. This is where the power of success lies for any recording artist. No people, no purchase. No purchase, no hit. No hit, no Hitman. No Hitman, well Dave will try again!"

"If it has not been for Cindy's measure of faith in my ability to handle the task of recording, none of this would have been possible for me. It is a blessing and an honor to have met you in the late 1960's and experience all the great times we have shared together. I know that one reunion is only by the sovereign will of God Almighty for such a time as this. I thank our Lord Jesus Christ for what he is about to do in your life as you tour paths unknown establishing a bond of love from above between you and your wonderful fans through the vehicle of music."

Love, joy and peace

Vera Carey

The Persianettes and Cindy Scott are featured on the UK Kent CD "Ben-Lee's Philadelphia Story"
Cat: No: CDKEND 164

Part of the above text is reprinted from In The Basement Magazine with the kind permission of
David Cole.

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