This weeks Sample Saturday is “Cross My Heart” by Billy Stewart. The song has recently become a hot sample after Jay Electronica used it for his 2009 track, “Exhibit C.” The sample can be heard on many recent mixtapes including Cassidy’s “Apply Pressure 2,” Fabolous’s “There Is No Competition 2,” LoS’s “Zero Gravity” and J. Cole’s “The Warm Up.” This is a hot sample but let’s not forget Billy Stewart and the original 1968 song that started it all.
Billy Stewart was only 12 years old when he began singing with his three younger brothers and they got their own radio show in Washington DC. Soon after, Stewart began filling in for a group called The Rainbows. It was here where he met Marvin Gaye, who was also just an aspiring singer at the time. In 1956, Stewart was discovered by Bo Diddley while playing the piano in Washington DC and was signed to Diddley’s record label, Chess Records. He recorded his first single, “Billy’s Blues,” in 1956 with Diddley accompanying on guitar.
Billy Stewart’s “Cross My Heart”
Eventually, Stewart left Chess Records and moved to Okeh Records. He saw most of his success with Okeh Records, where he consistently made the Billboard Hot 100 and multiple top R&B charts. In 1970, he tragically died in a car accident when the car he was driving fell into The Neuse River in North Carolina, killing him and three members of his band. Stewart was posthumously inducted into the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame in 1982.