Sonar Kollektiv are very proud to present a sweet slice of obscure Philly soul with deep connections to our very own Berlin family. Shirley Turner’s 1965 recording of I Wish You A World Of Happiness has long been a crate digger’s delight and now receives a very special reissue, alongside a rather stunning cover version from Hamburg based quartet, The KBCS, featuring the vocal talents of Nora Becker (Release Date: November 24th, 2023).

Philadelphia in the early 1960s, and Virtue Records (headed up by musician and music producer Frank Virtue) had become prolific in releasing soulful underground hits like The Horse by Cliff Nobles & Co. and Boogaloo Down Broadway by Fantastic Johnny C. as well as producing a number of somewhat less popular, more low-fi soul and garage records that were slept on at the time but have remained highly sought-after records to this day.

One of those records was I Wish You A World Of Happiness, which started life as a popular 60s instrumental cut Bird Walkin’ by Emanon’s Orchestra. The song was written by Weldon A. McDougal III and Johnny Stiles, with lyrics by Eddie Holman, of Hey There Lonely Girl fame. Virtue had been looking for someone to record a vocal version of the tune for some time, and having had a rough demo recorded by an uncredited singer, somehow said demo found itself in the hands of seventeen year old gospel vocalist Shirley Turner. The young, aspiring soul singer learned the lyrics from the dubplate by heart, and on the night she turned eighteen, went into Virtue Studios to record her version of the song. Several takes were laid down and three dub plates produced all on the same night, one of which was taken home by the eighteen year old hopeful, where it remained for years to come.

The KBCS

The recording was largely forgotten about as Shirley grew up and had a family, that is until her son started playing with the dubplate as a child. Shirley‘s son is Sonar Kollektiv’s very own Hollis P. Monroe – now a producer, composer and DJ as well as being responsible for the late 90s hit, I’m Lonely. Hollis took an interest in the record from an early age with the dubplate being one of the first records he learned to scratch with! Some years later, and with the help of the internet, Hollis’ continued interest in his mother’s recording led him to a number of specialist soul blogs and in particular to UK based DJ Andy Rix who posted about a dubplate he had found which sounded very familiar! The 45 was widely credited as featuring vocalist Ann Robinson, but Hollis was soon able to set the record straight which enabled him to tell the true story behind this fascinating recording.

Some fifteen years later, and taken directly from Shirley’s personal dubplate, Sonar Kollektiv were finally able to restore and remaster this rare take from that session. Not only that, we commissioned Hamburg four-piece The KBCS to deliver their own interpretation of this timeless piece of music. The result is a sophisticated, balladic reworking that respects the original but gives it a very different twist that should please lovers of modern and two-step soul alike.