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