Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Gwen Dickey

She was the voice behind Rose Royce – a soul, funk and disco band formed by Motown writer/producer Norman Whitfield. She was also in my opinion one of the most beautiful soul sisters of the 70/80s funk scene.

Gwen was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, USA and had most of her success with Rose Royce in the 70s with massive hits like "I'm Going Down", "I Wanna Get Next To You", "Wishing On a Star", "Love Don't Live Here Anymore", and "Car Wash". However she qualifies as an 80s soul sister because the tracks above spilled into the 1980s.

Gwen now has a solo career, lives in the UK and has collaborated with the likes of Cover Girls, KWS and Jay-Z. She is currently touring with her band, which is billed as ‘Gwen Dickey’s Rose Royce’.

If there is a slight regret, it is that her voice was not on Rose Royce’s 1984 monster hit, Magic Touch.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Tawatha Agee

Tawatha Agee is unquestionably one of the best R&B singers of all time. She figured as the lead vocalist for the funk/soul group Mtume (em-too-may), founded by percussionist James Mtume

Mtume is best remembered for their 1983 sexy and stimulating mega-hit ‘Juicy Fruit’, which she wrote (see video below). ‘Juicy Fruit’ was a UK top 10 hit and held down the number one R & B spot, in the States, for eight weeks.

Tawatha's rich and soulful vocals can be also heard on landmark albums by Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Stephanie Mills, Angela Winbush, Phyllis Hyman, Luther Vandross, B.B & Q., Levert, Kashif, Keni Burke, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, Celine Dion, R Kelly, Sting and The O'Jays.

Tawatha's only album was 'Welcome to My Dream', which was issued by Epic in 1987 and was produced by James Mtume and band members Ed Moore and James Batton. Disappointingly, this great album wasn’t given the publicity it deserved.

Mtume - Juciy Fruit

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Gwen Guthrie

Gwen Guthrie, best known for her 1986 dance anthem “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on but the Rent”, was born in Newark, US in 1950.

She made her real break in music when a backup singer listed to sing on Aretha Franklin's "I'm in Love" fell ill. Guthrie took the vocalist's place beside Cissy Houston and the rest is history.

Gwen worked with artists like Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Ashford & Simpson, Sly and Robbie, Peter Tosh among others. She also wrote songs made famous by Ben E. King, Gary Glitter, Sister Sledge and Roberta Flack.

Dubbed “The First Lady of the Paradise Garage” her musical partnership with celebrated - DJ Larry Levan saw a number of her songs become dance floor anthems in the 80s. Her club hits included "Padlock", "Peanut Butter", "Peek-a-Boo" and the remarkable “Getting Hot”. She also had a chart topping hit in the United Kingdom with a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song "(They Long to Be) Close to You".

Gwen was a prolific songwriter and a good pianist. She sadly died of uterine cancer on February 3, 1999, at the age of 48.

Listen to Gwen Guthrie on Rhapsody or

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Carrie Lucas

Born in Los Angeles California, Carrie Lucas was a background singer for the Whispers. A gorgeous and genuinely talented vocalist, Carrie secured an album deal with Soul Train Records and released her first album in 1977. The album was titled “Simply Carrie”, and the track “I Gotta Keep Dancing" secured her place in soul history.

Carrie released a couple of albums in the late 70s, but it was the release of “Portrait of Carrie” in 1980 that once more brought her back to everyone’s notice. The album released on the Solar label, had hits like "Keep Smilin'.", "It's Not What You Got (It's How You Use It)" and the pro-feminist anthem "Career Girl”.

In 1982, she recorded and released "Still in Love" under the banner of Solar Records which was now distributed by Elektra/Asylum. One of the memorable tracks on this album was “Show Me Where You're Coming From".

Her last full length album was released in 1985. It included singles like "Charlie," "Horsin' Around," "Summer in the Street" and "Hello Stranger."

Her remake of the Barbara Lewis classic, "Hello Stranger" featuring the Whispers reached number 20 on the R&B charts. It was Carrie’s most outstanding track.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Renee Diggs (1954 – 2005)

Renee Diggs was the vibrant lead singer and quite honestly the voice of R&B group Starpoint. Starpoint had a shed load of R&B mega hits in the 1980s. These hits included "Object Of My Desire, See the Light”, “One more Night” and “Its All Yours”.

Starpoint featured Ernesto Phillips (Guitar & Front Vocal – who sadly passed away in 2004), George Phillips (Keyboards & Vocal), Orlando Phillips (Bass, Sax, Keyboards & Vocal), Gregory Phillips (Drums), Kayode Adeymo (Bass & Vocal), and Marvin Ennis (Keyboards). The group started out as Licyndiana (made up from the first few letters of each of the group's sister's Christian names!), but soon changed it because no one could understand or pronounce it.

The band met Renee early on in their career and after hearing her amazing singing voice, installed her as the group's lead singer. Renee also worked as a backing singer with artists like Luther Vandross, Bob James and James Ingram.

During a Starpoint tour, Renee was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and that led to the tour’s cancellation and the eventually disbandment of the band. In 1990, Renee returned to music as a solo artist releasing her debut album, "Oasis" in Europe on the Expansion Records Label.

Renee Diggs who also worked with the likes of Michael Franks and Cliff Dawson, founded the Renee Diggs Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis. On March 18, 2005, Renee Diggs herself passed away in her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland, at the age of 50, from complications of the heart.

Diggs was an incredible vocalist and her voice and charm is sadly missed. Renee -Thanks

Video (Object of My Desire)

Starpoint Official Site