Doris Willingham was born May 18th 1941 in Georgia. She was starting singing in gospel choirs and later as a session and backing singer at Apollo Theatre in New York. That should have been in the mid 60s, the same time when she recorded some demos for Motown but none of them ever have been released.
Her first single “You Can’t Do That” was released in 1968 but the success was waiting, so she kept on doing sessions and backing vocals for Nina Simone's live album, A Very Rare Evening, recorded in Germany in 1969. In the same year she was signed by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams Jr. and renamed as Doris Duke. The album “I’m a Loser” was born and is in some circles the finest deep soul album of all time. It also reached the charts but not for long, as the record company collapsed. The second album “A Legend In Her Own Time” didn’t get much feedback and sales and it was also confusing as another “real” Doris Duke, a white heiress, who began performing with a gospel choir in New Jersey.
Her third album “Woman” received some good reviews and results but no good sales and so she retired from the music business in the late 70s. Later efforts by music fans to rediscover Duke were fruitless. She was also sister to Jeraldine and Joyce Curry, who recorded as The Heartstoppers for the All Platinum label in the early 1970s. Doris Curry Willingham, known as Doris Duke, died aged 77 in 2019.