SoulfulDetroit.com FORUM: Archive - Ending April 16, 2004: "THE BACKGROUND SINGER"
Top of pageBottom of page   By DyvaNaye ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 02:57 pm:

Having performed this feat myself and other folk I know who continue to do so...I would like to sing the unsung praises of the entity known as "THE BACKGROUND SINGER"...
This is the person(s) who covers for the high note(s) that is sometimes not reachable by the lead singer...the person (s) who most likely create the dance steps...the person(s)who fill in the solo parts when the other part of the act does not show up for rehersal or the shows...the person(s) who coordinates the dress codes and colors for the upcoming performances...the person(s) who are probably the ad-lib King and Queens of the world...the person(s) who keeps the other members of the vocal team and the band members from quitting when someone is too DIVA or DON for everyone's taste....ladies and gentlemen, introducing to some and presenting to others..."THE BACKGROUND SINGER"....give it up...(clap, clap, clap,clap...)

In recognition and shouting out:

The Pips
the 'other' Temptations
The 'other' Supremes
Luther Vandross' backup from the 80's throughout the 90's especially Lisa Fischer
The Family Stone
the other members of:
Blue Majic
Ohio Players
The Dells
The Revolution

GO ahead SDF...pay homage to your favorite background singers...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vickie ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:12 pm:

The Andantes are the background voices to my life...I would always sing their parts with them when I 'd hear my fave Motown songs rather than sing the lead..I still sing their parts....

Here, here, and Bravo to Louvain, Jackie , & Marlene..

I love their sweet angelic voices..also The Sweet Inspirations too!!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:14 pm:

The background singers for both the Stylistics and Blue Magic were:

Carl Helm
Phil Hurtt
Ron Tyson /Bunny Sigler

Barbara Ingram(rip)
Carla Benson
Evette Benton

Thom sometimes sang on the Stylistics sessions as well.

Most of HM and the Bluenotes bcgs were:

Kenny Gamble
Thom Bell
Leon Huff(sometimes especially if you dont...)
John Whitehead and Gene Mc Fadden and Bunny Sigler on their songs.
The Ojays, Spinners(plus the Sweeties), Intruders, Delfonics(with Thom) sang on their own stuff.

A lot of the groups just were not polished enough for the studio.

The Mike doesnt lie.

If you listen to Spell(real BM first incarnation)) and Sideshow(studio) you be the judge.
The Intruders were unpolished, but that was their "charm".

Listen to You're a big girl now(real Stylistics0 and any other Thom bell produced Stylistics, then you be the judge. capice??$%^

Top of pageBottom of page   By DyvaNaye ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:16 pm:

The Andantes are my favorites too Vickie, and the Water Sisters who did work with Motown too...just heaven when they do work with Marvin Gaye (both sets)...definetly unsung heriones...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Russ Terrana ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:27 pm:

I've had the pleasure of working with the Andantes in Detroit and the Waters in LA, plus the Bailer boys and others. It's amazing how these talented people can make a very big difference it the production of a record.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Clef ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:28 pm:

Even though you all mentioned those great background singers...I give props to Kevin Owens, Lisa Fischer, Tawatha Agee, Cissy Houston, Cindy Mizell, and Ava Cherry for all the Luther Vandross records they made sound so beautiful on record and in live concert

Top of pageBottom of page   By DyvaNaye ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:33 pm:

Agreed Clef...to all of Luther's people...Lisa I picked out because of her solo attempt 'How Can I Ease the Pain' that I fell in love with....:-)

Top of pageBottom of page   By Garo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:56 pm:

Jackie Ward in L.A.
she also had a hit single with
"Wonderful Summer" as Robin Ward

Top of pageBottom of page   By CHANCELLOR OF SOUL ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 03:57 pm:

The Andantes are my favorites along with Barbara
Ingram, Carla Benson & Yvette Benton.......but
the background singers that don't really get any
play are.....Rhodes, Chalmers, and Rhodes.....
background singers for Al Green.They really have
some together voices !!!

Mike Boone
(Chancellor of Soul)


Top of pageBottom of page   By Brother Love ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:05 pm:

The Blossoms
Thw Sweet Inspirations
Rhodes, Chalmers & Rhode
The Blackberries
Merry Clayton
David Lasley
Patrice Holloway
Patti Austin
The Raelettes
The Ikettes
Clydie King
Venetta Fields
Edna Wright
Luther Vandross
Lani Groves
The Harlettes
Jim Gilstrap

The list goes on and on.............

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:11 pm:

Great thread, Dyva Naye!
Gotta give props to the following background folks that made music sound so good!

Cissy Houston (check out that high note on Aretha's "Ain't No Way")
Patti Austin (underrated session singer - can be heard on several records by her godfather Quincy Jones among others)
Jim Gilstrap (can be heard on many Stevie Wonder records)
Darlene Love (Phil Spector should kiss the ground she walked on....)
Thelma Hopkins & Joyce Vincent (prior to Dawn, they were heard on records such as Jerry-O's "Karate Boogaloo")
Deniece Williams (see Jim Gilstrap)
Minnie Riperton (years before she finally exploded, her voice can be heard on classics such as the Dells' "There Is" & Fontella Bass' "Rescue Me")
The Dells (besides having a hell of a career, they can be heard on Barbara Lewis' "Hello Stranger" and "He'll Be Back" by the Players)
Barbara Acklin (besides her hit "Love Makes A Woman" she sang on Jackie Wilson's "I Get The Sweetest Feeling" and "(I Can Feel The Vibrations) This Love Is Real")
The Chi-lites (speaking of Ms. Acklin, they sang on many of her solo hits including "Love Makes A Woman")
Kevin Owens (great voice who does double duty with Luther Vandross AND Ray Goodman & Brown)
Lisa Fischer ("How Can I Ease The Pain" - put out another solo record!!)
Audrey Wheeler (sang on many, many records for folks from Nile Rogers to Luther)
Lillo Thomas (started his career as a backup voice - can be heard on Melba Moore's "Mind Up Tonight", which he wrote)
Carl Helm/Phil Hurtt/Bunny Sigler & the Sweethearts of Sigma (where would the Philly Sound be without 'em - I'll let Bobby Eli handle the background info)
Andantes (Motown legends - someone should do a documentary on their career)
Del-Satins (sang backup on Dion's solo hits before joining forces with Johnny Maestro & the Rhythm Method to form the Brooklyn Bridge)

I'll stop there, gang....
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:14 pm:

I should also include THE IKETTES (the Robbie Montgomery era group) and JOSHIE ARMSTEAD to my list as well.
Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 04:30 pm:

Nice topic Dyva! I had planned on starting one like it pretty soon but you beat me to the punch. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that enjoys a good background singer. When the background singing arrangement is really good it seems to inspire the lead singer because they sure don't want to be out sang on their own record! LOL. A good background singer can also disguise a weak vocalist's limitations. I'm sure that there were several weak vocalists during the Classic Soul era but at least the producers were generous enough to include people on their records that COULD sing even if the lead singer was mediocre. Ashanti take note!

Here's a few of my favorites:

Cissy Houston & The Sweet Inspirations - What more can I say about these girls? Cissy has one of the sharpest, most distinctive voices of all time! And the other girls weren't chopped liver either. All of them could sing lead and could have easily been solo stars. Sylvia Shemwell actually gives her big sis Judy Clay a run for her money in the vocal department and deep down inside you folks all know that Judy could sing the pants off of anyone that she wanted! If you don't believe me take a listen to Sylvia and the girls cuttin' up on 'You Roam When You Don't Get It At Home' from their 1973 album on Stax or Aretha Franklin's 'Young, Gifted And Black'. Jawdropping talent! Who was outsinging these girls? NOBODY! It's obvious why they are the most prolific background group of all time. Aretha Franklin for one owes a great deal of her success to The Sweets' for what they've done on her records through the years. She could at least mention them in the press once in a while.

The Ikettes - Ike couldn't hold onto Ikettes for long but he always replaced talent with talent (PP Arnold, Bonnie Bramlett, Merry Clayton, Joshie "Jo" Armstead, just to name a few)! No matter what you think of Ike he had an ear for good singing. These girls were a perfect compliment to Tina when she was still singing Soul and Blues.

I'd also like to give a shout out to these solo background singers:

Luther Vandross - You can hear Luther's distinctive pre-solo stardom voice on recordings from Chaka Khan to David Bowie to Melba Moore and everything in between. He was great.

Tawatha Agee - Tawatha's got that Cissy Houston sharpness to her voice. They sound great together on Luther's productions for himself and other folks like Cheryl Lynn and Aretha Franklin. In addition to her background work and recordings with Mtume she also recorded an excellent solo album in 1987 that I rank as some of the best R&B work of the late 80's!

Jocelyn Brown - I can also spot her voice in the background of several recordings (my favorite is Candi Staton's 'Halfway To Heaven'). She's really too good a singer to be singing background for ANYBODY but she's great at it and I'm thankful for the great tracks she's left behind. That intro to her solo hit 'Somebody Else's Guy' knocks me out every time I hear it. She took us back to church on a song about infidelity! LOL.

Thank you Dyva! It feels good to show these unsung heroes (no pun intended) some love for a change. :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 05:37 pm:

I interviewed Robbie Montgomery, the founder of the Ikettes, as well as Jessie Smith. Joshie Armstead is a dear friend and colleague also. The stories these ladies could tell.....

Joshie sang on the Ikettes' hit "I'm Blue" while Robbie, Jessie & Vanetta Fields cut "Peaches & Cream".

While Bonnie Bramlett was a member of the Ikettes, whenever the Ike & Tina Revue toured the Southeast in the 1960s, they would have Bonnie hide way down in the back seat in case the caravan was pulled over - scary times.

Robbie & Jessie went on to record with Dr. John - they can be heard on his hit "Right Place - Wrong Time".

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Wonder B ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 05:42 pm:

My all time favourites favourites are Duke Fakir, Obie Benton and Walter Payton... the 3/4th of the Four Tops...
If I take just one song, I will mention "Bernadette"... LOL Those harmonies are just from another galaxy...

Wonder B

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:21 pm:

Thanks KevGo. Man, you know I'm a huge Ike & Tina fan! When am I going to be able to hear some of these stories that you've had the privilege of hearing straight from the horses mouth? Did you guys ever come up with a playlist for the Ike Turner productions CD? Please give me the latest. I enjoyed Ike's autobiography that came out a few years back but I wanted to know more about the music and the Ikettes. We still haven't had a chance to hear their side of the story. :)

Since we are on the subject of background singers will someone tell me this, who were the top male background session singers solo or group working in Soul music besides Luther Vandross and David Lasley? We hear bits and pieces about Cissy & The Sweets, Ullanda McCullough (beautiful lady!), Venetta Fields, Merry Clayton, Clydie King, The Andantes, Patti Austin, Ula Hedwig, Paulette McWilliams, The Blossoms, Helen Lowe, etc. but we never hear about any men besides Luther. I'm not talking about groups who only sang on their own records I mean men who made a living on sessions for other artists. Can you folks think of any? Thanks in advance.

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:35 pm:

Wonder B.

PLEASE give another listen to "I'm In A Different World" and then tell me you still say "Bernadette"!!!

Even Marvin Gaye's "Need Somebody" shows the Tops at their best...or even "Loco in Acapolco"

Top of pageBottom of page   By KevGo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:14 pm:

One of the label assistants who was overseeing the Ike Turner project left the company so it has to be reassigned. The track listing is pretty much set and the notes are done. All that needs to be done is someone in my job's product management team to spearhead the assembly of the release. Hang in there!

As for men who made a living from being session singers, check this out -
Lillo Thomas
Kevin Owens
Jim Gilstrap
Carl Helm
Phil Hurtt
Ron Tyson (before he became a Temptation)
Bunny Sigler
Trey Lorenz (sings with Mariah Carey's backup troup)
Leon Ware
Jimmy Norman
The late Karl Tarleton

The list goes on....

Kevin Goins - KevGo

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:16 pm:

The Futures also did their fair share of BGV's for PIR.
And lets not forget the Originals for the male BGV's at Motown, such as on What becomes of the brokenhearted! Hello!!
Some of my fave NYC folk who I used on the regular were:

Brenda White-King
Norma Jean
Gwen Guthrie
Audrey Wheeler
Allyson Williams

Top of pageBottom of page   By DyvaNaye ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:19 pm:

I have to shout out 'The Harlettes' also, Bette Midler backup singers who recorded an emotional version of 'Does Your Momma Know About Me'.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:12 pm:

Thanks Kev and Eli. Kev, I've never heard of most of the men that you've named but I've heard of a few. Jim Gilstrap is the guy that sang the Good Times theme with Blinky, right? I definitely know Bunny Sigler from a few of his singles but primarily through his work as a songwriter. I've seen Lilo Thomas' and Leon Ware's names on album credits before but I can't remember exactly where at this time.

Eli, I only remember The Futures from their two singles with Barbara Mason. 'Make It Last' is my favorite.

Dyva, I see what you're saying about The Harlettes. Like Ike Turner, Bette Midler also had an ear for good singing. Sharon Redd, Paulette McWilliams, Kathy Segal (Peg Bundy), Jocelyn Brown, Mellisa Manchester, Ula Hedwig, and several others. Quite a line-up! Juicefree also gave The Harlettes version of 'Does Your Mama Know About Me' rave reviews. I can't wait to hear it.

Top of pageBottom of page   By grclifton@earthlink.net ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:13 pm:

Of course I must give the Andantes their props. Someone needs to do a documentary on them just like the Funk Brothers. I'm sure those ladies have much to tell.

The Waters were great, too. Julia, Maxine, Oren, and Luther were all over the place.I've got three albums by them on Blue Note, Warner Brothers, and Arista and each one vocally is quite interesting.

Top of pageBottom of page   By johneflat ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:24 pm:

I don't think we've mentioned:
-Hodges, James and Smith, Beautiful work with Bobby Womack
-Pat Lewis, Diane Davis, Rose Williams and Debra Carter AKA Hot Buttered Soul Unlimited, bgs for You Know Who!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Vandelron ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:29 pm:

VANDELLAS--can Heat Wave be topped?Roz, Anettte and Betty

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:31 pm:

The Vandellas on Stuborn kinda fellow and Hitch hike.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:32 pm:

Hey johneflat. I'm a Hodges, James and Smith fan. What album was it exactly that they worked with Bobby Womack on?

I forgot to mention Peggi Blu. She's a great singer. Here's the link to her website:


Top of pageBottom of page   By johneflat ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:47 pm:

Rodman; The album in question was called "the Roads of Life" (AB 4222 SA) Ariata, 1979. HJ&S guest on "The Roots In ME", along with Melissa Manchester, the tune was co-written by Leon Ware.

Top of pageBottom of page   By johneflat ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:49 pm:

whoops, I mean Arista, 1979

Top of pageBottom of page   By Juicefree20 ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:16 pm:

Let's not forget Deniece Williams! I also loved James Gilstraps' Love Talk from 1976, absolutely loved it!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Zeke ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:22 pm:

Wasn't Luther a background singer, himself? Yeah, I do believe he was, and Roberta Flack had the sense to kick his ass outta her group(Smile!)


Top of pageBottom of page   By dvdmike ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:24 pm:

In Chicago, the top background vocalists during the '70s & '80s:

Kitty & The Heywoods (Kitty is Jason Weaver's mom)
Theresa Davis
Joni Berlmon
Rhonda Grayson
Keithen Carter
John Ransome
Vince Willis
The Jones Girls (on Curtom)
Billy Durham
Pat Henley
Ada Dyer
Sue Conway

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:28 pm:

Good background singers are worth their weight in gold. Trust me.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Kev-Lo ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:34 pm:

Hi this is Kev-Lo The Poindexter Brothers were great background singers For Linda Jones

Top of pageBottom of page   By Juicefree20 ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:59 pm:

Yes indeed Isaiah, Ms Flack said that he was too good to be her backup & booted him indeed. Now, that was a most unselfish act by Ms Flack.

Top of pageBottom of page   By RD ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 11:54 pm:

If the Supremes hadn't become big stars they would have been Motown's number one female background, not the Andantes. The Supremes did a lot of early background work at Motown for Mary Wells and others and had a superb and unique sound, far more so than the Andantes who won the job by default when the Supremes became successful. This can also be said for the Temptations over the Originals. I love the Originals' blend but it really doesn't have the uniqueness of the Tempts who also did a lot of background work at Motown before becoming famous in their own right.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Wonder B ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 02:02 am:

JOhn I would like to agree with you, and don't get me wrong I LOVE "I'm In A Different World", but my 5 year old daughter has declared that "Bernadette" was her 'most favourite song" LOL... yesterday she had me playing it in the car 18 times in a row... now I even call my wife Bernadette...! LOL

Wonder B

Top of pageBottom of page   By JoB ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 06:28 am:

My favorite background singer has got to be Ullanda McCullough...as Rodmann previously stated, not only is she a beautiful lady, but she's got a beautiful voice and personality to go along with it. Although she sings solely for the Lord now, to my understanding she used to sing backup at Motown with the Andantes. She's also sang with Ashford & Simpson, and in the 70's-80's was known as the "jingle queen" (she was the voice behind the "meow meow meow meow" in the Meow Mix cat food commercials, as well as many others)...she is also very good friends with Telma Hopkins.

As far as background groups go, my favs are the Sweet Inspirations, the Andantes, and the Vandellas...the Vandellas IMHO were much better than the Supremes in terms of background vocals.

Top of pageBottom of page   By ~medusa~ ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 10:23 am:

Ridgeway Sisters
Pam Vincent & (her Sister)
Dawn (Tony Orlando), they also performed back~up for Isaac Hayes
Sandra Fever
Melissa Morgan

Top of pageBottom of page   By Soul Sister ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 11:28 am:

Hi Vickie;
Yes, singing to some of the background parts were more fun especially the intricate ones.

Without the dynamite backgrounds and vocal harmonies in the groups there'd be no substance to many of those 4 & 5 part harmonies that made those records so great to listen too. Cheers to the talented back-up singers both in the studio and onstage, especially the unsung heroes like 'The Andantes' who never received the credit they earned.

Top of pageBottom of page   By DyvaNaye ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 04:51 pm:

The Ebonys has a haunting sound...the leads are great on their music...and that background singing on 'You're the Reason Why' and 'It's Forever' are to just 'cry for'...

Top of pageBottom of page   By boynextdoor ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 05:32 pm:

I think the backround singers (esp. noted today, sing far better than the "star".) When I hear the newer stuff, I think, get rid of that "star" and let the backround singers to do....they can SING! Love the Andantes, Waters and all the rest of those wonderful singers who really "made" the song!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Handsome ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 06:10 pm:

What's Up Dyva & SDF!

Here are the background singers of life IMO:

The Sweet Inspirations-Especially on Ain't No Way with Cissy Wailing in the background on Aretha's version of "Drown in My Own Tears".

The Andantes

The Sweeties

Luther Vandross, Gwen Guthrie, Yvonne Lewis & Brenda White (when they used to back Roberta Flack)

Lisa Fischer, Tawatha, Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith-Schilling, Cheryl Lynn, Fonzi Thorton, Kevin Owens, Brenda White, Paulette McWilliams, Crystal Wilson, Ava Cherry, Darlene Love, Alfa Anderson-Who all backed Luther at one time or another and sounded great!


Top of pageBottom of page   By ZeKe ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 08:04 pm:

Yeah, Handsome, the Sweet Inspirations are just supernatural, man(smile!) When I heard those ladies singing People Get Ready behind Aretha, I just wanted to pack my rags, and bounce wherever these ladies wanted me to go...(smile!) Make you wanna just testify....

And DyvaNaye, yes, that Just Because of You is another outta this world harmony clinic... Pure WICKED! I love the Five Stairsteps, Whispers and Tavares harmonies to death also...


Top of pageBottom of page   By dub-c ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 11:28 pm:

what about the frontground singers with funker george clinton; pat lewis, sandra fever, belita woods,joe pep steve boyd, gary sheider, peanut, jessica cleeves,paul hill,shirley hayden, anita johnson,and robert (peanut )johnson.

Top of pageBottom of page   By LadyMystique ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 11:33 pm:

Andantes of course, as well as Julia Waters-Tillman, Barbara Ingram and Wonderlove. Forgive me for the errors if any. :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By boynextdoor ( on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 11:35 pm:

The Breakaways from the UK. They backed about everybody in their day. The were the Andantes of England! They did some wonderful backing for Dusty. Their solo stuff sounded great, too! "That's How It Goes" and "He Doesn't Love Me Anymore" tear the roof off.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 08:01 am:

Thanks johneflat for the Bobby Womack info. I'll definitely be on the look out for 'The Roots In Me'. I've been listening to a lot of songs by Hodges, James, Smith (and sometimes Crawford) lately and those girls were bad! 'Nobody', 'Love Baby', 'Let's Pick Up The Pieces' and 'Since I Feel For You' are my favorites so far. I'm still waiting to find out all about these girls. They've been mentioned a few times on the forum before but not much info came out of it. I might start a topic all about them in the future.

boynextdoor, It's so funny that you would bring up The Breakaways! I first found out about them when I heard their song 'Someone To Talk To Baby' in the film "Darling" years ago. That's a great song! I had a hell of a time finding a copy of it because it was never released as a single (at least I don't think it was) but a few weeks ago I FINALLY found an mp3 copy of it after years of searching. 'Sacred Love' has also been getting some spins in my house lately. I don't know anything about them and I had no idea that they were session vocalists. It makes sense though because they had some great harmonies on the handful of songs I've heard. Do you have anymore info on them? Thanks.

Top of pageBottom of page   By GTO ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 09:45 pm:

This is a very interesting subject, I love it! My favorite background was on Just Ask The Lonely, who all did it?

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 11:11 pm:

Best Background Singers:

1) DARLENE LOVE & THE BLOSSOMS - The boldest, the baddest, the best; too many songs for too many years to mention (from Elvis to The Crystals to Cher).

2) SUPREMES - w/ Diana Ross (nearly all of the D.R.S. songs 1961-1969); Marvin Gaye ("Can I Get A Witness" and "Wonderful One"); Mary Wells ("U Lost The Sweetest Boy")

3) VANDELLAS - w/ Martha Reeves (most of the M.R.V. songs); Marvin Gaye ("Stubborn Kind Of Fellow", "Hitch Hike", and "Pride & Joy")

4) THE ANDANTES - Motown artists

5) THE BLACKBERRIES - w/ Diana Ross (solo)


7) PATTI DARCY - Phil Spector Artists

Top of pageBottom of page   By Linda Di. ( on Wednesday, April 07, 2004 - 11:23 pm:

I love me some Sweeties background vocals. Their blend is awesome.

And Cindy Mizelle, background and session vocalist extraordinaire, is my favorite singer period. She released a CD in 1994 to critical acclaim. However, she remained in the background and in the studio. Recently toured with Luther (fabulous background singers) and Steely Dan. Also on Dave Matthews Band "Live at Folsom Field" DVD, you'll find Cindy along with Tawatha Agee and Brenda White-King.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rodmann ( on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 05:13 am:

How in the world did I forget about Miss Merry Clayton? That lady can blow! I've got several of her solo records in addition to tracks featuring her on background vocals. My favorite solo song by her 1980 remake of Webster Lewis' 'Emotion'. Wow!

Does anyone know who the girls were that sang background on Z.Z. Hill's 1977 hit single 'Love Is So Good When You're Stealing It' from his "Let's Make A Deal" album on Columbia? I love that song and those girls really tear it up on the hook! Thanks. :)

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 06:08 am:

Rod-Mann: I'm glad that you're glad that STONEWALL reminded U of Missy MERRY!

Top of pageBottom of page   By LoveChild ( on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 07:44 am:

The ANDANTES - I love their backgrounds on LOVE CHILD, their the BEST part of the song: "Wait, Wait, Won't you wait, now hold on..just a little bit longer..."

The BLACKBERRIES - especially on Diana Ross' "I'm Still Waiting"..their backgrounds make that song: "I'm just a fool, I'm just a fool here waiting, I'm just a fool, I'm just a fool. . ."

Special props go out to Cissy Houston and The Sweet Inspirations, these ladies had some glorious set of pipes on them just one listen to Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" will confirm this....

Top of pageBottom of page   By fayette ( on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 07:28 pm:

do any of you know if tavares did their own
background vocals, and what other group did
their own vocals. maybe i should ask bobby
which group do he know that did.and oh eli is
that the same ron tyson with the tempts

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Saturday, April 10, 2004 - 10:00 pm:

Yes, Fayette, that is definitely the same background singer RON TYSON who got promoted to THE TEMPTS! I like the cover of their new c.d. w/ D.R.S., too. It's rite to the points. (I saw your review on another post.)


And, Love Child, U recreate those D.R.S. effective background lines very well. I saw THE BLACKBERRIES in person w/ DIANA many times, including at the famous Waldorf-Astoria in NY. They were/are really fierce. I believe it is THE ANDANTES on "No Matter What Sign U Are", which 'Black Berry' wrote for Queen Diana. Luv that song -- the only one in which D.R. actually lets out those fabulous screeches in front of the very effective background singers who chant a plenty on this one!!!

"No Matter What Sign U Are" was a hot #1 at The Stonewall Club in June of 1969:

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 02:29 am:

Oh, Miss Love Child....

I think that U believe that the best part of an ice cream cone is the cone!

Now, when "Love Child" -- by DIANA ROSS (and on stage The Supremes) zoomed up every chart to #1, no one was saying, "Oh, stop, look and listen to those background girlz -- they are better than the lead singer Diana Ross". U see, Miss Child, any law enforcement officer could use such a crazi ass statement to have the person submitted for mental evaluation in a psycho ward and then transferred full time to a psychiatric facility.

THE ANDANTES' opening background line in =LC= "Tenement slum!" was great and bi the way, better than "Wait. Wait. Won't U wait...." (nice as they are). Besides, the "tenement slum" reference reminds me of U, dear. Really, it does. Maybe in Chi-town? Critically, the absolute best part of the song is when the Tenement Queen is singing at the end: "Love Child, I'll always la-a-ove yoo whoo whoo, yoo whoo whoo, yoo whoo whoo...." It was yet another revealing side of at-the-time Princess Di's beautiful and attention-getting voice. And, U know it! It was that ending part that hooked U into that song, wasn't it, Miss Worntorndressthatsomebodythrewout?

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 02:46 am:

P.S. Just to clarify -- in case StoneD Love is still on the loose -- the "at-the-time" (above) refers to Diana's title of 'Princess' (not the voice). In less than 2 years from "Love Child", after solo #1 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Ain't No Valley Low Enough)", Diana would be elevated to 'Queen'.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dannyboy ( on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:46 am:

Oh I love this topic! I'm a big fan of Chic & have recently listened to my favourite LP of theirs from '79 called "Risque" & boy there were some real tight harmonies going on here by the likes of Fonzi Thornton (man he has a lovely, clear voice), Michelle Cobbs (where are you doll - you have a lovely voice!), Alfa Anderson, Lucia Marti, Diva Gray (great voice - sang with George Benson & Change also) & the aforementioned Ullanda McCullough...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Brother Love ( on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:27 pm:

Dannyboy, did you know that David Lasley did some of the background vocals on the early Chic tracks? He is one of the all time greats in the world of background vocals.

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Tuesday, April 13, 2004 - 11:40 pm:

Correction to Vandelron:

Betty Kelley was NOT a Vandella on "Heat Wave", as U stated way up above. The Vandellas Roz and Annette were on the song, as U mentioned. Remember, there were always only 3 Vandellas at once. The 3rd member of the trio was, of course, MARTHA REEVES. Bi the way, Betty joined M.R.V. in the following year or so to replace Annette (who was pregnant).

Yes, "Heat Wave" displayed some of the fiercest, most effective, liveliest background singing by anyone ever -- especially with that: "BURNING, BURNING, BURNING in my heart".

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dannyboy ( on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 07:10 am:

I was aware of that brotherlove. You can really hear him on Chic tracks such as "At Last I Am Free" & also clearly on Sister Sledge's "Thinking Of You". David Lasley has a fantastic falsetto - his BV's on Greg Diamond's Bionic Boogie project from '78 is pure class singing alongside Luther Vandross & Cissy Houston on songs such as 'Hot Butterfly' & 'Paradise'you know it's gonna be pure class!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Linda Di. ( on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 08:35 am:

Brolove -- thanks for giving David Lasley props. He's great on bv and his solo work is wonderful ... missing 20 Grand!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dannyboy ( on Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - 10:04 am:

I love David Lasley's "Expectations of Love" CD Linda...so soulful! His song 'Dancing On the Smooth Edge'is soooo good! Whitney Houston also recorded this song & gave her in my opinion her most soulful song to date!

Top of pageBottom of page   By phillysoulman ( on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 12:13 pm:

David Lasley had a one off record on Philly Groove as well.

Top of pageBottom of page   By STONEWALL ( on Thursday, April 15, 2004 - 01:56 pm:

LOVE UNLIMITED!!! C'mon, y'all -- they dripped with classic and grand soul.

In fact, they were so superlative and so instrumental in prominently backing up BARRY WHITE (R.I.P.), that they were launched on their own. And like a page out of the romantic part of the PHIL SPECTOR book, Barry married the lead singer, GLODEAN! Their singing to "Love's Theme" is beautiful. Their hits like "Walking In The Rain With The One I Love", "U Belong To Me" and "It May Be Winter Outside But In My Heart It's Spring" are irresistable. Another wonderful case, like THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS before them, of the background coming to the foreground.

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