Northern soul legend Donnie Elbert was born May 25, 1935, in New Orleans. His family relocated to Buffalo, NY's east side three years later, and there he learned to play guitar and piano. Influenced most profoundly by the Drifters' Clyde McPhatter, Elbert co-founded a doo wop group called the Vibraharps with friend Danny Cannon in 1955, serving as its guitarist, songwriter, and arranger while largely relegating himself to background vocals. After making his recorded debut on their single "Walk Beside Me," Elbert left the Vibraharps in 1957 amidst creative differences and turned to a solo career, recording a demo session that earned him a contract with the King label's Deluxe imprint; his Deluxe debut, "What Can I Do?," cracked the R&B Top 20 but the follow-up, "Believe It or Not," went nowhere. Arguably Elbert's finest early single was his third Deluxe effort, 1957's haunting "Have I Sinned?" -- an exemplary showcase for his powerful falsetto, the record was a huge regional hit, especially in Pittsburgh, where legendary DJ Porky Chedwick played it relentlessly.