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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stephanie Mills

Collection of Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills first came to fame as "the little girl with the big voice" as the star of the hit Broadway play, The Wiz, an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic book, The Wizard of Oz. She had many R&B hits such as "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love," "I Feel Good All Over," "(You're Puttin') A Rush on Me," "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)," and "Home," along with one certified, million-selling single, "Never Knew Love Like This Before." In addition, she also had five gold albums: Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin', Sweet Sensation, Stephanie, If I Were Your Woman, and Home.

Born on March 22, 1957 in Brooklyn, NY, Mills honed her rich vocals singing gospel music at Brooklyn's Cornerstone Baptist Church as a small child. At age nine, she began appearing in the Broadway play Maggie Flynn. She was presented with first prize after winning "The Amateur Hour" talent contest six weeks straight at New York's famed Apollo Theater when she was nine. That success led to her being chosen as the opening act for the Isley Brothers, eventually becoming good friends with lead singer Ronald Isley. Many years later, Isley would manage and later marry singer/songwriter Angela Winbush, who co-wrote one of her number one R&B hits. Mills' debut album, Movin' in the Right Direction was recorded for ABC Records in 1974. A year later, she won the role of Dorothy in The Wiz. Her rendition of the beautiful ballad "Home" was a showstopper, mesmerizing audiences nightly for a number of years. The original cast recording of The Wiz was produced by Jerry Wexler and issued by Atlantic Records in spring 1975. Curiously, when The Wiz was made into a full-length feature film by Motown Records' film division and Universal Pictures, Diana Ross played the role of Dorothy instead of Mills. The film ended up being a major flop.

Singer Jermaine Jackson referred Mills to Motown head Berry Gordy, who signed her to the label. Her Motown debut was For the First Time, written and produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, issued in October 1976. For the First Time is a sweet affair with Mills convincingly covering Bacharach/David standards, most of which were originally recorded by Dionne Warwick. In 1978, she signed to 20th Century Records and was teamed with the hit production duo of James Mtume -- later leader of Mtume, who had a gold single with "Juicy Fruit" -- and Reggie Lucas. Her first LP for the label, Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin', went gold, going to number 12 R&B and number 22 pop on Billboard's charts in summer 1979 and spawned the singles "Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin'" and "You Can Get Over." Her next LP, Sweet Sensation (number three3 R&B, number 16 Pop, spring 1980) yielded "Sweet Sensation," "Never Knew Love Like This Before," and the radio-aired LP track, "Try My Love." Around this time, she briefly married former Soul Train dancer Jeffrey Daniels of the group Shalamar. Next came the LP titled Stephanie in spring 1981, which also was a huge hit, peaking at number three R&B and number 30 Pop. The album included notable songs such as "Two Hearts" -- a midtempo duet with Teddy Pendergrass -- "Night Games," and the radio-aired LP cut, "Don't Stop Doin' What Cha Do."

In 1981, Mills switched to Neil Bogart's Casablanca Records. Her LPs for the label included Tantalizingly Hot, Merciless, and I've Got the Cure. During 1983, she had her own NBC-TV daytime talk show, and reprised her role in a Broadway revival of The Wiz. She also signed with MCA Records, where she released her Stephanie Mills album.

The first single from the Stephanie Mills album was "Stand Back," in late 1985, which also included the passionate ballad "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love." "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love" was initially written by Rene Moore and Angela Winbush -- best known as the hit singing duo Rene & Angela -- as a gospel song and originally was recorded by Alton McClain and Destiny on their self-titled 1978 Polydor LP. The original version is available on Polygram's Power of Love: Best of Soul Essentials Ballads. Because of its massive radio play as an album track, Mills' version of "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love, -- produced by Philly soul keyboardist Ron Kersey -- was reissued as an A-side holding the number one R&B spot for two weeks in spring 1986. Its follow-up, "Rising Desire," reached number 11 R&B in summer 1986.

Her next LP's title cut was the Clay McMurray/Gloria Jones/Pam Sawyer song, "If I Were Your Woman," originally a 1971 number one R&B, number nine Pop smash for Gladys Knight & the Pips. Philly-based producer Nick Martinelli gave Mills her second number one R&B hit with "I Feel Good All Over," written by husband-and-wife songwriting duo, Gabriel Hardeman and Annette Hardeman. The song held the number one R&B spot for three weeks in spring 1987. Originally submitted to Mills' fellow MCA labelmate Patti Labelle by the Hardemans, the track was included on Mills' LP If I Were Your Woman in issued June 1987, which peaked at number 30 Pop in summer 1987. Paul Laurence and Timmy Allen produced and co-wrote the chugging "(You're Putting) a Rush on Me" giving the singer her third number one R&B hit in fall 1987. The single made it to number 85 Pop and was followed by "Secret Lady," which landed at number seven R&B in late 1987. Her covers of "If I Were Your Woman" and "Where Is the Love" followed. All were included on her If I Were Your Woman album, which peaked at number one R&B, number 30 Pop in summer 1987. Following these hits, Mills contacted Ronald Isley about working with singer/songwriter/producer Angela Winbush, who'd had hits as half of Rene & Angela and was forging a hit-filled career as a recording artist and producer for the group Body among others. The collaboration between Mills and Winbush resulted in another number one R&B single, "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel," in summer 1989.

Having starred for five years in the smash Broadway show The Wiz and recorded the song "Home for the play's 1975 original cast soundtrack album, she wanted to record the song again as a posthumous tribute to the play's producer, Ken Harper, and the song's composer, Charlie Smalls. On her new version of "Home," Take 6 sung the background vocals. The song went to number one R&B in late 1989 and was followed by "Comfort of a Man" and "Real Love." The Home LP ended up peaking at number five R&B, number 82 Pop in summer 1989. She then recorded a charting single with J.T. Taylor titled "Heart to Heart" in late 1991. Her final MCA album, Something Real, included the hit "All Day All Night" and "Never Do Wrong." Following this album, she recorded a gospel album, Personal Inspirations, for Interscope Records and in the late '90s, recorded several tracks at Philadelphia International Records with Bunny Sigler, among others. Allmusic by Ed Hogan

Album: Moving In The Right Direction (1974)

01. Movin' in the Right Direction
02. Of All the Things
03. I'll Never Love Nobody Else but You
04. My Baby's Melody
05. Sweet Salvation
06. Home
07. I Knew It Was Love
08. You Do It to Me
09. I Don't Want to Go Back
10. Danny Boy
11. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Album: For The First Time (1975)

01. I Took My Strength From You
02. Living On Plastic
03. No One Remembers My Name
04. If You Can Learn How To Cry
05. Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets)
06. This Empty Place
07. The Way I Feel About You
08. I See You For The First Time
09. All The Way To Paradise

Album: What'cha Gonna Do With My Lovin' (1979)

01. What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'
02. You Can Get Over
03. Deeper Inside Your Love
04. Feel The Fire
05. Put Your Body In It
06. Starlight
07. You And I
08. Don't Stop Dancin'

Album: Sweet Sensation (1980)

01. Sweet Sensation
02. Try My Love
03. I Just Wanna Say
04. Wish That You Were Mine
05. Dancin’
06. Still Mine
07. Never Knew Love Like This Before
08. Mixture Of Love

Album: Stephanie (1981)

01. Winner
02. Two Hearts
03. Don't Stop Doin' What 'Cha Do
04. Top of My List
05. I Believe In Love Songs
06. Night Games
07. My Love's Been Good To You
08. Magic

Album: Tantalizingly Hot (1982)

01. Last Night
02. Still Lovin' You
03. Keep Away Girls
04. You Can't Run From My Love
05. True Love Don't Come Easy
06. 'Ole Love
07. Your Love Is Always New
08. I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You

Album: Merciless (1983)

01. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
02. Never Get Enough Of You
03. Eternal Love
04. His Name Is Michael
05. Here I Am
06. My Body
07. Do You Love Him
08. Pilot Error
09. Since We've Been Together

Album: I've Got The Cure(1984)

01. The Medicine Song
02. Edge Of The Razor
03. In My Life
04. Give It Half A Chance
05. Outrageous
06. You Just Might Need A Friend
07. Everlasting Love
08. Rough Trade
09. Undercover

Album: Stephanie Mills (1985)

01. Stand Back
02. Automatic Passion
03. Rising Desire
04. Time Of Your Life
05. Hold On To Midnight
06. Just You
07. I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love
08. Under Pressure

Album: If I Were Your Woman (1987)

01. I Feel Good All Over
02. If I Were Your Woman
03. (You're Puttin') A Rush On Me
04. Jesse
05. Secret Lady
06. Touch Me Now
07. Running For Your Love
08. Can't Change My Ways

Album: Home (1989)

01. Something In The Way (You Make Me Feel)
02. Real Love
03. Home
04. So Good, So Right
05. Comfort Of A Man
06. I Come To You
07. Good Girl Gone Bad
08. Ain`t No Cookin`
09. Fast Talk
10. Love Hasn`t Been Easy On Me
11. I`m More Than A Woman

Album: Something Real (1992)

01. Never Do You Wrong
02. All Day, All Night
03. Somewhere in This Broken Heart
04. Stone Cold Woman
05. Love the Hurt Away
06. Heartache
07. Policy of Love
08. I Found a New Love
09. All in How Much We Give
10. 24 Hour Woman
11. Never Gonna Give You Up
12. I Just Want Love

Album: Personal Inspirations (1995)

01. I Had a Talk With God
02. Sweepin' Through the City
03. He Cares
04. In the Morning Time
05. Everything You Touch
06. Everybody Ought to Know
07. Power of God
08. People Get Ready
09. He Cares (Reprise)
10. I'm Gonna Make You Proud

Album: The Best Of Stephanie Mills - Funk Essentials (1995)

01. Sweet Sensation (12 Inch Version)
02. Put Your Body In It (12 Inch Version)
03. Starlight
04. Still Mine
05. Two Hearts
06. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
07. Deeper Inside Your Love
08. The Medicine Song
09. You Can Get Over
10. Never Knew Love Like This Before
11. Keep Away Girls
12. You And I
13. Feel The Fire
14. You Can't Run From My Love
15. What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin' (12 Inch)

Album: The Ultimate Collection (1999)

01. The Passion & The Rain
02. Movin' In The Right Direction
03. Home (Finale) Original Cast
04. I Took My Strength From You
05. What Cha gonna Do With My Lovin'
06. Sweet Sensation
07. Never Knew Love Like This Before
08. Keep Away Girls
09. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
10. The Medicine Song
11. I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love
12. I Feel Good All Over
13. (You're Puttin') A Rush On Me
14. Something In The Way (You Make Me Feel)
15. Comfort Of A Man

Album: Born For This (2004)

01. Can't Let Him Go
02. Never Knew Love
03. Healing Time
04. Love Of My Life
05. Free
06. For U
07. You Still Mean So Much
08. Something In The Way
09. Baby Love
10. Born For This

Album: Gold (2006)

CD 1:

01. Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin'
02. Put Your Body In It
03. You Can Get Over
04. Feel The Fire
05. Better Than Ever
06. Sweet Sensation
07. Never Knew Love Like This Before
08. Two Hearts
09. Night Games
10. Last Night
11. Keep Away Girls
12. You Can't Run From My Love
13. Wailin'
14. Pilot Error
15. His Name Is Michael
16. How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore

CD 2:

01. The Medicine Song
02. Stand Back
03. I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love
04. Rising Desire
05. I Feel Good All Over
06. A Rush On Me (You're Puttin)
07. Secret Lady
08. If I Were Your Woman
09. Where is The Love
10. Something In The Way (You Make Me Feel)
11. Home
12. Comfort Of A Man
13. Real Love
14. All Day, All Night


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