…is Beverly Bivens.
I’d never heard her name, either.
And although I remember the music of her group We Five very well, I hadn’t thought of it or them for years. A college friend of mine had had their LP, and so I was familiar not only their bona fide hit song but with some of their lesser-known songs as well. In particular, in my lovelorn freshman year when my boyfriend suddenly dropped out of school and I was missing him terribly, I listened to a cut of theirs called “Love Me Not Tomorrow” over and over, and even learned how to play it on the guitar, regaling (and probably boring) my friends with my angst.
I hadn’t heard that song since freshman year in college—and believe me that was a long time ago—when some train of thought yesterday led to wonder if it’s on YouTube. And sure enough, I found it there, just as I’d suspected I would.
I was expecting the song to be ho-hum and cliched. But when I listened to it I was immediately struck by something quite different: the singer. With the perspective of years, I thought, “Wow! What a voice!” even though at the time of the original I’d been so in love with the song I never really noticed the voice as a separate entity at all.
Why wasn’t Beverly Bivens a star, a household word? She was certainly pretty enough. But she left the group around the time she get married at the ripe old age of nineteen, and retired not long after.
As for her voice, I’m not the only one who was mighty impressed:
Almost operatic in quality, its range was described as low tenor to high soprano. Bob Jones has recalled that “Bev had this husky kind of voice, and somehow there’s this old soul in there.”…
Bivens’ voice and that of Mary Travers had a similar atmospheric quality, although Bivens’ was the more commanding. In the latter respect, there was a similarity with both Judith Durham of the Australian group the Seekers and Dusty Springfield…
You may remember We Five’s biggest hit “You Were On My Mind,” a catchy bouncy upbeat tune showcasing Bivens’ happy/sad light/dark easy/powerhouse vocals. But the song I was talking about earlier, the one I used to play on the guitar, was this more obscure and somber one:
And here’s We Five’s big hit, which you probably do remember if you’re Of A Certain Age. Bivens’ smoky lower register is what makes it so spectacular:
[NOTE: Another thing I'd never known before is that "Love Me Not Tomorrow" was written by John Stewart of The Kingson Trio. Stewart's brother Mike was We Five's founder.]