order to make inroads into the sales charts, a group or performer
generally needs a gimmick to gain and keep attention. In the case
of Brenton Wood, the gimmick was a strong voice that could take command
of diverse and/or difficult material and make it accessible without
sacrificing aesthetics. Born Alfred Jesse Smith in Shreveport,
Louisiana. He moved west to San Pedro, California as a child.
When his family relocated to nearby Compton during his high school
years, Brenton Wood became a member of the Compton High School
track team, where he was the recipient of several awards for his
Following his high school graduation, Wood enrolled in
Compton College, he assumed the name Brenton Wood, naming himself after
his home county. During this period was where his musical
interests finally began to manifest themselves. Duly inspired by
Jesse Belvin and Sam Cooke, Wood began to cultivate his songwriting
skills and also became an accomplished pianist.
After signing with Double Shot Records, Wood had a hit
single in the spring of 1967 with "The Oogum Boogum Song", which reached
number 19 on the R&B charts and number 34 pop. But the real star
of the "The Oogum Boogum Song" album came in a seemingly inconspicuous
number hidden on the second side "Gimme Little Sign".
"Gimme Little Sign" was unique not only for its reggae/blues beat, but
also for the fact that the title of the song was never mentioned
in the lyrics. (the chorus repeats, "Give me some kind of
sign" instead). "Gimme Little Sign" climbed to to the number nine
position in September 1967.
Brenton Wood continues to perform all over the world. He
is encouraging proof that the only gimmick a true artist needs to
succeed in the musical field is pure talent.