She was born Doris Payne in The Bronx, the daughter of a Barbadian Pentecostal minister. Her parents disapproved of "subversive" forms of music like rhythm & blues, so she cut her teeth singing in her father's choir. She was working as an usherette at the Apollo where she was discovered by the 'Godfather of Soul', James Brown.
Troy worked with Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Cissy Houston, and Dionne Warwick before she co-wrote and recorded "Just One Look", which hit #10 in 1963. The song has been covered by The Hollies, Linda Ronstadt, Bryan Ferry, and Harry Nilsson, among others. As her solo career peaked, she did back-up for the Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Pink Floyd (on their seminal album Dark Side of the Moon), George Harrison, Dusty Springfield, Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Carly Simon.
Doris worked in the UK throughout the 1970s, appearing at Ronnie Scott's Club & recording a live album (The Rainbow Testament). Her People records album "Stretching Out" showed her versatility, though it was not a seller.
Mama, I Want To Sing is a stage musical based on her life, and was co-written with her sister, Vy. It ran for 1,500 performances at the Heckscher Theatre in Harlem. Troy played her own mother, Geraldine. Chaka Khan played her Aunt in the London production, as did Deniece Williams. The musical has been reinterpreted as a motion picture, due for release in early 2009. The film's cast includes musicians Ciara, Ne-Yo, Bobby Valentino, Ralph Tresvant and Patti Labelle. Also starring is CSI: NY actor, Hill Harper.