FEBRUARY 4, 2013 – Singer DARLENE McCREA (b. c. 1938 in Bellhaven, North Carolina as Ethel McCrea) died of cancer. Best known as a founding member of The Cookies, and The Raelettes, McCrea began singing in church with her sisters as a youth in Brooklyn, New York. In 1954, she co-founded The Cookies, whose membership also originally included Dorothy Jones, and Dorothy’s cousin, Beulah Robertson. Robertson was replaced in 1956 by Margie Hendricks. The group regularly did session work at Atlantic Records with artists like Laverne Baker, Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, and was introduced to Ray Charles. After backing him on such hits as “Hit the Road, Jack” and “What’d I Say”, McCrea and Hendricks helped form the Raelettes in 1958 with Patricia Lyles and Gwendolyn Berry. While they were signed as a singles artist with Atlantic, the group scored one hit, “In Paradise”, which went to #9 on the R&B singles chart in 1956.
Meanwhile, Darlene’s younger sister, Earl-Jean, joined the Cookies during the era when they hit with “Chains” and “Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad (About My Baby)”. In 1964, Darlene returned to the group and stayed with them until 1967 when they made their last recording.