Lorraine Ellison (17 March 1931 – 31 January 1983) was an American soul singer, best known for her recording of the song "Stay with Me" (sometimes known as "Stay With Me Baby") in 1966. With an incredible vocal power, range, and intensity that was perhaps too heavy for the record-buying masses, Lorraine Ellison never made it big, except of course in the hearts of committed soul fans-and the occasional rock and pop buyer.
Ellison was born Marybelle Luraine Ellison in North Philadelphia and began singing gospel with her family at age six. She sang professionally with a local group named the Sylvania Singers & the Golden Chords before forming the family group The Ellison Singers in the late '50s/early '60s. The Ellison Singers recorded for the Sharp imprint, releasing 2 singles, namely 'In The Upper Room' b/w 'He’s Holding Me' (in 1962) and 'This Is The Day' b/w 'Open Up Your Heart' (in 1963).
By 1964, she began recording R&B music, and her first hit was the 1965 R&B hit 'I Dig You Baby' (later made into a pop smash by Jerry Butler).
She signed with Warner Bros. Records, and in 1966 recorded "Stay with Me" at a last minute booking, following a studio cancellation by Frank Sinatra. The story goes Lorraine Ellison was working with producer/composer Jerry Ragovoy at a major NY recording studio when someone popped in to say that the 46 piece orchestra lined up for the Frank Sinatra session was available next door as Sinatra had cancelled. Ragovoy up-scaled the arrangement, making lead sheets for the grumpy musicians who'd been expecting to schmooze Frank and now "demoted" to this obscure R&B canary. Then upon the first and ONLY take: standing ovation for Lorraine from the Big Band boys.
"Stay with Me" reached number 11 in the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and number 64 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was written and produced by Jerry Ragovoy. Later releases were on the subsidiary soul music record label, Loma. Her follow-up single was "Heart Be Still" a minor hit in 1967. Lorraine never charted again, however, she released 'Try Just A Little Bit Harder' in 1968, which rock singer Janis Joplin later remade with great success.
Some of her other singles were 'Heart Be Still,' 'Don't Let It Go to Your Head,' and 'I've Got My Baby Back.' Songs that she wrote with her manager Sam Bell (of Garrett Mimms & the Enchanters) were recorded by Mimms and Howard Tate. Ellison's Warner LPs include Heart and Soul (1966), Stay With Me (1969), and Lorraine Ellison (1974) and the compilation The Best of Philadelphia's Queen (1976).
Ellison composed many of her own songs (solo and with manager Sam Bell) and had her own compositions recorded by several other artists, including Jerry Butler, Garnet Mimms, Howard Tate and Dee Dee Warwick.
Twice-married and using the surname Gonzalez-Keys, Lorraine Ellison gave up the music business in order to take care of her mother, before her death in January 1983 from ovarian cancer at the age of 51. (Info edited from numerous sources, especially Wikipedia)