Born Anna Mae Bullock to a mixed race couple (African American, Navajo and Cherokee) in the segregated south and raised as a Baptist, her family were share-croppers and her parents fought constantly. Anna Mae was 10 when she and her elder sister were abandoned by their mother, and thirteen when their father left.
Anna Mae was raised by her sister, her cousins and her grandmother. When her grandmother died, Anna Mae moved to St. Louis, Missouri, for a reunion with her estranged mother.
For Anna Mae, now a precocious 16-year-old, the move opened the door to a new world of Rhythm and Blues, of music and nightclubs, and she was smitten. It wasn't long before she came to know Ike Turner's band The Kings of Rhythm, who played at Club Manhattan, which she used to frequent. It was during a performance of theirs, in 1956, that the young Anna Mae was called on stage to sing. She shone with a natural talent for performing, which caught Ike's eye.
Anna Mae began to hang around with the band and her interest in music grew stronger than her previous aspirations to become a nurse. She had a relationship with The Kings of Rhythm saxophonist, Raymond Hill, with whom she had a son, Craig, born in 1958.
Two years later, her break into music finally came, the day a singer failed to turn up for Ike's recording session of ‘A Fool in Love' (1960). He asked Anna Mae to provide the vocals, fully intending to later replace them. Ike quickly changed his mind when he heard her spine-tingling...