He learned to sing in the churches of East St. Louis and supplemented his musical education by studying Ike and Tina onstage at the north side's legendary D.J. Lounge. In 1959 Marcel Strong wrote a song called "Mumble in My Ear (with Clarence Carter in Mind)," which he recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. When Clarence Carter himself got an earful, he too recorded the song: "Scratch My Back (and Mumble in My Ear)" hit No. 33 on the R&B charts in 1972. In the early 1980s, Razzy Bailey recorded "Scratch My Back (and Whisper in My Ear)," and the song went to No. 10 on the country charts. These days Marcel is still goingwell, Strong. Along with Al Green's guitarist, Kenny Hodges, he's recording a CD titled The Choice Is Yours
. While you're waiting for the release, you can catch him with his band, the Apostles, at Beale on Broadway (701 South Broadway; 314-621-7880) and at this year's pick for "Best Blues Bar," BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups (700 South Broadway; 314-436-5222).