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Marva Whitney, James Brown's 'Soul Sister Number 1,' Dead at 68

'Unwind Yourself,' other songs have been widely sampled

December 24, 2012 10:40 AM ET
Marva Whitney
Portrait of Marva Whitney circa 1969
Gilles Petard/Redferns

Funk singer Marva Whitney, nicknamed by collaborator James Brown "Soul Sister Number 1", has died from complications from pneumonia. According to an announcement on her Facebook page, Whitney, born Marva Ann Manning, passed away on Saturday.

100 Greatest Artists: James Brown

Whitney began her music career as a child, joining her family gospel group, the Manning Gospel Singers. She toured with James Brown in the late Sixties, including a trip to perform for troops in Vietnam. Her most well-known track, "Unwind Yourself," was sampled many times, including by the 45 King in 1987 for "The 900 Number," DJ Kool on 1996's "Let Me Clear My Throat" and last year by Mac Miller on "Party on Fifth Ave." Public Enemy famously sampled her track "It's My Thing" for their 1988 classic "Bring the Noise."

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