Little Known Black History Fact: Little Eva

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  • Eva Narcissus Boyd, also known as “Little Eva” was an American pop singer known for her smash hit, “The Loco-Motion.”  Little Eva made her way to stardom while working as a maid and babysitter for singers Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The couple noticed Eva’s dancing and singing style and wrote “The Loco-Motion” for her as a demo. Once recorded, the song hit number one on the charts in 1962. The song sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

    Little Eva recorded "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," which hit the top 20 on pop and R&B charts the same year. In 1963, she recorded "Let's Turkey Trot" and "Swinging on a Star."

    Because of the times and people’s resistance to change, Little Eva’s music was labeled as “dance craze” and her recording style was limited. King and Goffin would write an additional song named, "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)", performed by The Crystals, after hearing Eva’s stories about domestic abuse from her boyfriend. In her explanation, Eva told King and Goffin that the abuse was the way he showed his love for her.

    Little Eva first retired from the music business in 1971. She would never capture the rights to her music and rumor spread that she was only paid $50 for “Loco-motion.” It was later discovered that she was paid $50 a week for her recordings, which was only $15 more than her babysitting job for King and Goffin.

    Little Eva Boyd moved her family to South Carolina, worked as a waitress and lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Though she returned to music years later and recorded a few more songs, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001 and passed away at age 59. Her grave was marked only with a white cross until 2008.
     

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