Eula Cooper

Eula Cooper was trying on clothes at the boutique below the Tragar offices when she giggled her way through “Shake Daddy Shake” for her friends. The shop’s proprietor suggested she take the song to the guy on the second floor. Cooper and her friends marched upstairs to find Jesse Jones sitting behind a small desk in a paneled office. After her performance of “Shake Daddy Shake,” Jones immediately sent Eula home to fetch her mother.

Born in Opelika, Alabama, but raised in both Birmingham and Atlanta, Eula Cooper was the artist Jesse Jones had been waiting for. Beautiful, articulate, and headstrong, Cooper had an incredible command of her voice, green though she was. A child of divorce, Jones would become something of a father figure to her over the next four years, as she would spend all her time between Booker T. Washington High and the office, studio, or stage. Jones believed that Eula Cooper was the best chance they had for hit status outside the city; “Shake Daddy Shake” seemed to prove that hypothesis, immediately finding a place on the local charts. Regional radio promoter Charles Geer began pushing the single outside of I-285’s loop and even convinced Atlantic Records to license it for a national run. Neither “Shake Daddy Shake” nor “Heavenly Father” had the legs or production values to jump state lines, but this would hardly be Eula’s last foray into the studio. At 14, it seemed she had plenty of time to crack the charts.

As 1969 rolled in, Jones was finalizing the second Eula Cooper 45. The two had spent most of the fall in the studio working on a handful of tracks, but “Try” was the clear standout. Tommy Stewart’s arrangement was impeccable: a simple melody taped out on glockenspiel for the introduction lead to a mid-tempo soul jam with royalty written all over it. For the B-side, Jones went familiar and used a note-for-note remake of Martha Reeves & the Vandellas' 1965 hit “Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things.” It was built for chart movement but faced a challenge bigger than Atlanta this time. Money was tight, and not even Jones’ wealthy benefactors could pull him through the foreclosure of his house. A 1969 regrouping and restructuring left Eula Cooper’s best shot lost in the shuffle.

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