Early life Childhood & teen years
Charlotte Denise McClain was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1956. Originally named Charlotte, "Charly" was given her masculine moniker by neighborhood friends in Memphis, and she also used it when she started playing hotel lounges. When Epic Records decided it sounded catchier than Charlotte, it became a permanent professional banner.  McClain's father had tuberculosis when she was eight, and, since she was under age for visitation rights at the hospital, she had to communicate with him through a tape recorder.