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One of Aretha Franklin's biggest hits was co-written by Winston-Salem native Clarence Paul

One of Aretha Franklin's biggest hits was co-written by Winston-Salem native Clarence Paul


One of Aretha Franklin’s most enduring hits — “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” — has a tie to Winston-Salem.

The song has three writers, Morris Broadnax, Stevie Wonder and Winston-Salem native Clarence Paul. Paul was born Clarence Pauling, later dropping the “ing” to avoid confusion with his brother, Lowman Pauling, a member of the “5” Royales who wrote most of the group’s songs.

The “5” Royales is a Winston-Salem group that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 for its influence on rhythm and blues and soul music in the 1940s and 1950s. Clarence Paul and Lowman Pauling formed the Royal Sons Quintet, a gospel group that morphed into the “5” Royales. They sang in black churches around Winston-Salem.

Paul quit the group before it began scoring hits on the R&B charts.

Paul eventually wound up Detroit and became an early executive with Motown Records, writing songs and producing. He served as a mentor to a young Stevie Wonder, ushering him through the early stages of his career.

Wonder, Paul and Broadnax teamed to write “Until You Come Back to Me” in 1967. Though Wonder recorded it, he did not release it until 1977.

Fellow Detroiter Franklin must have gotten wind of the song, probably from Wonder, a close friend. In her hands, the song became a smash, reaching No. 3 on Hot 100 Billboard charts and No. 1 on R&B charts in 1973.

Incidentally, Lowman Pauling is often incorrectly credited with writing Franklin’s big hit, “Think.” Pauling did write a song called “Think” but it is not the same song. His “Think” has been recorded by Ray Charles, James Brown and Mick Jagger, among others.

Paul died in 1995 and is buried in Winston-Salem. 336-727-7420 @lisaodonnellWSJ

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