Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms - CBS46 News

Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms

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Keisha Lance Bottoms Keisha Lance Bottoms

For people of a certain age in Atlanta, there’s something oddly familiar about mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms. Something in the line of her face and the twinkle of her smile that makes them say, “Um, um, um, um, um, um.” 

That was the title of a hit record by Major Lance, an Atlanta-based singer who was a huge R&B star from the 60’s and 70’s, not just here in America but also in Britain where he remained a star up until his death in 1994.

But to his daughter, a little girl named Keisha Lance, he was just daddy.

“When I was a kid I would meet people and they would get excited about my dad,” she recalled. “I’d say ‘Daddy, so and so said that they knew you’ and he was like,  ‘Yeah, I know you don’t believe me, but I was a very popular man.’”

While Major Lance was a fixture on dance shows like Shindig, American Bandstand and Soul Train, he never wore his stage persona at home, where he cooked supper, coached little league, and of course doted on his little girl.

“My dad used to always tell me he opened for the Beatles when they came to the US, but I didn’t believe him. I thought he was exaggerating,” Bottoms said.  “I did know that Elton John got his start playing piano behind my dad.”

Bottoms says the magnitude of her father’s celebrity didn’t hit home till she saw Sir Paul McCartney of the Beatles carrying a Major Lance album in a vintage picture from the 1960’s.

“He was a fantastic dancer,” Bottoms said of her father.  “And he would tell me that James Brown took his moves; and looking at the videos and the timeline, I believe it.  My dad was a boxer, so he was very quick on his feet, and he actually started on a dance show-- an American Bandstand-type dance show in Chicago.”

Bottoms says she inherited her dad’s persistence to make it in her profession the way he did in his. But his gift for performing… well, that’s all his.

“No I tell my mother she completely messed me up,” she laughed.  “I’m a genetic freak of nature. I have no rhythm; I can’t sing; I can’t dance.  But my mother laughed.  She said she gave me the best she got.” 

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