TIR 77: Singer’s Singer Maxayn Lewis Shares Her Amazing Story


Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 77 (3 Parts): An amazing female vocalist whose professional music career includes backing Ike and Tina Turner as an Ikette while still just a teenager, fronting one of the best underground funk-rock bands of all time in Maxayn, and going on to record and perform with a long list of rock, pop and R&B A-listers. The woman I am referring to was born as Paulette Parker and became known as Maxayn Lewis — one of the finest and busiest singers of the past half-century. Her sensational namesake band also included the man who she would marry and adopt his surname, futuristic keyboard player Andre Lewis, who would later go on to record for Motown as Mandre, and drummer Emry Thomas, who would go on to become Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s band director and who was himself the focus of a recent episode of TRUTH IN RHYTHM (https://youtu.be/vF9vYXhMXDc).

Maxayn released three albums in the first half of the 1970s, an eponymous debut, Mindful and Bail Out for Fun! The band’s unique blend of soul, funk, rock, progressive keyboard-driven soundscapes, mix of original material and reimaginations of cover tunes, all propelled by Maxayn’s powerful pipes allowed it to cultivate a loyal underground and collegiate crowd following. Strong examples of how they made others’ killer compositions their own can be heard in Maxayn’s versions of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Check Out Your Mind.” While similar in configuration to Rufus and Mother’s Finest, Maxayn was less commercial than the former and not as hard rocking as the latter — and yet was at least equally compelling. Maxayn Lewis’ sweet and husky voice and style has been referred to as a cross between Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

After splitting up with Andre Lewis and leaving the Maxayn band behind, Maxayn Lewis went on to sing with a host of stars that included Bonnie Raitt, Sammy Hagar, Billy Preston, the Gap Band, Rosanne Cash, Donna Summer, Tower of Power, Smokey Robinson, Rita Coolidge, Simple Minds, Leon and Brenda Russell, Celine Dion, Jon Bon Jovi, the Doobie Brothers and many others.

In this very in-depth interview, Maxayn comes darn close to providing a comprehensive first-person account of the golden era of 1960s-1980s soul, blues, funk and rock — with several astounding and poignant personal stories mixed in. She also talks about the amazing Maxayn box CD set released last year and new music in the works, some of it with former Rufus bassist Bobby Watson. While this is a lengthy TRUTH IN RHYTHM with a few technical hiccups, set aside the time, even if not all at once, to take it all in because Maxayn Lewis pulls few punches in laying out her incredible life story. It’s informative, inspirational, heartbreaking and yet still a lot of fun. It’s time to get Mindful with Ms. Maxayn Lewis.