The Burke family was often known as the first family of soul. They performed as the Five Stairsteps, in spite of the notable fact there are six people on the album cover. The group were named because when they stood in a line in order of age, they resembled a set of stairs according to their mother. 'Ooh Child' was released in 1970, on the album 'Stairsteps'. The group had streamlined their name in the early seventies, and with their positive, uplifting hit, scored their first record to crack the top ten on the pop charts.
Watch this 1970 performance of the song on Soul Train:
'Ooh Child' become a popular song to cover almost immediately after it's release. The Spinners have an incredible version that was also released in 1970, and Nina Simone recorded her rendition and released it in 1971. Since then there have been numerous versions, and in addition the song has found it's way into dozens of soundtracks for tv and film. The one we remember best, and the place we first heard the song was in John Singleton's 1991 film 'Boyz in the Hood'. It's range of emotion is shown brilliantly as a young man spends an afternoon with his father that starts off perfectly and ends watching his best friend get arrested.
'Ooh Child' has also been sampled by a number of popular artists in recent years. It's presence in popular culture beyond the original recording is a testament to the songs' power and it's poignant grasp on complicated emotions. It's positive and uplifting, without being an overly happy song. There's the beauty of it. This is a song to love.