Doris Troy (born Doris Elaine Higginsen on January 6, 1937) was an American R&B singer and songwriter, known to her many fans as "Mama Soul". Her biggest hit was "Just One Look", a top 10 hit in 1963. She was also one of the four female backup singers on The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.
Her parents disapproved of "subversive" forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father's choir. At age 16, she was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by James Brown. Under the name Doris Payne, she began songwriting and earned $100 in 1960 for the Dee Clark hit "How About That".
Going into the recording industry, Troy worked as a backup vocalist for Atlantic Records alongside Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick. She was also part of the original lineup of The Sweet Inspirations in 1963. Taking her stage name from Helen of Troy, Troy sang backup vocals for Solomon Burke, the Drifters, Houston, and Dionne Warwick, before she co-wrote and recorded "Just One Look" (the songwriting credits use the name Doris Payne). This song hit No. 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1963.
“Just One Look" was the only charting US hit for Troy. The song was recorded in 10 minutes in October 1962 as a demo for Atlantic Records.. However, after Atlantic Records heard the demo, they decided not to re-record it, instead opting to release it as was.
After moving to London in 1969, she was signed by The Beatles to their Apple Records label and released the Doris Troy album. Troy worked in the UK throughout the 1970s, appearing at Ronnie Scott's Club and recording a live album, The Rainbow Testament. Neither The Rainbow Testament nor her People Records album, Stretching Out, sold well.
Troy moved from England in 1974 back to the United States.
Mama, I Want to Sing is a stage musical based on her life.Troy played her own mother, Geraldine. Chaka Khan played her aunt in the London production, as did Deniece Williams. It was also made into a motion picture, starring Ciara, Patti Labelle, and Hill Harper, which was released on DVD in 2012.
Troy died from emphysema at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 67.