Willie Mae Thornton better know as Big Mama Thornton was a R&B singer and songwriter. Big Mama Thornton was the first to record Hound Dog in 1952 and was her biggest hit. Hound Dog stayed at number one for on the Billboard Charts for seven weeks in 1953 and sold almost 2 million copies.
Thornton was born in Ariton, Alabama on December 11,1926 and had six siblings. She was introduced to music in a Baptist church, where her father was a minister and her mother a singer. She grew up singing in church and eventually caught the ear of an Atlanta music promoter while cleaning and subbing for the regular singer at a saloon. Her career began to take off when she moved to Houston in 1948. In 1951 she signed a recording contract with Peacock Records and performed at the Apollo Theater in 1952. The song “Hound Dog” was recorded three years later by Elvis Pressley and his version sold ten million copies. Very few fans know that “Hound Dog” began as “an anthem of black female power”.