Singer Dee Edwards remains best known in Northern soul circles for the cult classic "All the Way Home." Born Doris Jean Harrell in Montgomery, AL, in June 1945, she began singing in her church choir at age five. After the family's 1960 relocation to Detroit, Harrell and her brother Albert teamed with fellow siblings Tommy and Freddy Martin to form the Paragons, an R&B vocal group that attracted the attention of neighbor Mike Hanks, owner of the fledgling MAH label. Hanks licensed the Paragons' lone single, "My Time Is Important to Me," to another Detroit indie, Duke Browner's Exit Records, and the record was a local hit in the spring of 1963.
The group nevertheless split soon after and Hanks signed Harrell as a solo act, renaming her Dee Edwards in honor of his new D-Town imprint. Her debut, "You Say You Love Me," followed on the Tuba label in late summer, trailed by "Too Careless with My Love," a major Detroit radio favorite. With 1964's "Oh What a Party," Edwards abandoned the harder-edged R&B sound of her previous records in favor of a buoyant, Motown-inspired approach. Subsequent efforts like "Happiness Is Where You Find It" and 1965's "His Majesty, My Love" refined the formula, and with 1966's "All the Way Home" Edwards reached her zenith, her husky vocals perfectly complemented by Hanks' brassy production.
By now a fixture of Detroit nightclubs like the Twenty Grand and Gino's, Edwards boasted a loyal local following but Hanks lacked the marketing muscle necessary to push her records to a national audience. When D-Town splintered in mid-1966, her recording career stalled until 1968, when she cut "I'll Shed No Tears" for Premium Stuff. With husband Floyd Jones serving as arranger, Edwards next surfaced with 1970's GM label single "Say It Again with Feeling." Two years later, she made her major-label debut with the RCA release "All We Need Is a Miracle," but the record failed to generate much interest, and after the De-To effort "I Can Deal with That" she spent the next several years in retirement, raising a family. Upon signing to Atlantic's Cotillion imprint, Edwards scored a disco hit with 1979's "Don't Sit Down," culled from her LP No Love, No World -- 1980's "Mr. Miracle Man" proved a minor pop hit but she again mothballed her career to focus on her children. Edwards died of natural causes on January 25, 2006. ~ Jason Ankeny