Soul singer Denise LaSalle honored.

February 18, 2009 12:23:34 PM PST
Soul singer Denise LaSalle left Mississippi as a teenager after years of picking cotton on Delta farms. She returned Wednesday to be honored by state legislators, who passed a resolution saying she had made a "lasting impact" on rhythm and blues music.

"I can't hardly tell you how it makes me feel. I'm kind of choked up," said LaSalle, 69, who was joined on the Senate floor by lawmakers and R&B singer Dorothy Moore.

LaSalle's hits include "Trapped by a Thing Called Love" and "Down Home Blues," which legislators made a point of saying was for mature audiences.

LaSalle said she knew as a child that she wanted to become a performer and earned her first pay - 50 cents - from a woman who overheard her singing a song as she walked from school.

Born in Leflore County in central Mississippi in 1939, her family eventually moved to a nearby county where she helped them pick cotton. LaSalle headed to Chicago when she was 13 to live with relatives.

"When I left Mississippi, I left with tears in eyes," LaSalle told lawmakers. "But I'm so proud of Mississippi. Mississippi is my banner."

Her first hit came in 1967 with "A Love Reputation." She's also a noted songwriter, penning Z.Z. Hill's hit, "Someone Else Is Stepping In."

LaSalle now lives in Jackson, Tenn.

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