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Minnie Riperton

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Biography Minnie Julia Riperton (November 8, 1947 - July 12, 1979) was an American soul singer from Chicago, Illinois, most noted for her abilities in the whistle register and her 1975 hit single "Lovin' You". Possessing a rare five-octave vocal range, she displayed the ability to imitate instrumentation and even birds. As a child, Riperton studied music, drama, and dance, and seriously considered a career in opera. However, her affiliation with the famous Chess Records record label soon allowed her to sing backup for Etta James, Fontella Bass, and Stevie Wonder. Riperton sang lead vocals for several small, unsuccessful bands before teaming up with her husband, composer Richard Rudolph, to start her solo career. Stevie Wonder agreed to produce her album Perfect Angel, featuring "Lovin' You", a ballad to her then-two-year-old daughter Maya. Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy in 1976. She became an active spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society and was awarded the Society Courage Award from President Jimmy Carter. She died in 1979 at the age of 31 and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. In addition to her musical legacy, Minnie Riperton is survived by her husband, Richard Rudolph; son, Marc Rudolph; and daughter, Maya Rudolph, a current cast member of Saturday Night Live. Early childhood Minnie Julia Riperton was born on November 8, 1947 to Daniel and Thelma Riperton. The youngest of eight children in a very musical family, Riperton embraced the arts very early in life. Although she started in ballet and modern dance, Riperton's parents recognized her abilities early in life, and she soon shifted to music and voice. Minnie Riperton received operatic vocal training at the Lincoln Center by Miss Marion Jeffery. There she would practice breath control, holding vowels for extended times and phrase enunication, with particular care for diction. Jeffery also would train all of her range, which is rather unusual in operatic training as many classical purists deem the seventh octave unmusical. While studying, Riperton sang operettas or a show tune, in preparation for a life in opera. Jeffery was so convinced of her pupil's abilities, she strongly pushed her to study the classics further at Chicago's Junior Lyric Opera. However, this was the '60s and Minnie was becoming very interested in soul, rhythm and blues, and rock. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at Loop College, but dropped out after a mere three weeks. Early career Riperton's first professional appearance occurred when she was 15 as part of The Gems. Raynard Miner, a blind pianist, heard Riperton during her membership in Hyde Park's A Capella Choir. The Gems had relatively limited commercial success with Chess Records, but the group proved to be a good outlet to expose Riperton's talents to the music industry at large. Eventually the group became a session trio (to back other albums) called 'Studio Three'. In 1964 the Gems released a local-hit "I Can't Help Myself" and their last single, "He Makes Me Feel So Good" was released in 1965. After that the group released records under numerous names - most notably 1966's "Baby I Want You" by the Girls Three and 1967's "My Baby's Real" by the Starlets. The former has achieved cult-status with Northern Soul fans and remains a favorite. The latter was a Motown-styled song reminiscent of Tammi Terrell. In 1968 "Watered Down" was released as a follow-up, under the name the Starlets. Ultimately it was the last release of Riperton's girl-group. "My Baby's Real" by the Starlets and "He Makes Me Feel So Good" by the Gems can be purchased on CD on Ace's Where the Girls Are V.3. Andrea Davis While a part of 'Studio Three', Riperton met her mentor, producer Billy Davis. He would write her first local hit "Lonely Girl" and "You Gave Me Soul". In honor of Davis, she used the "showbiz name" Andrea Davis for the release of those two singles. Afterward, she would use her real name. Rotary Connection Some months after her Andrea Davis singles hit the radio, Riperton would join the Rotary Connection, a funky rock-soul group creation of Marshall Chess, the son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. The band consisted of Riperton, Chess, Judy Hauff, Sidney Barnes and Charles Stepney. While she was in Rotary Connection, she met Richard Rudolph, her future husband and songwriting partner. The group released their debut in 1967, eventually releasing four more albums, 1968's Aladdin, the Christmas album Peace, Songs, and finally 1970's Dinner Music. "Lovin' You" In 1973, a college rep for Epic Records found Riperton, then a semi-retired homemaker and mother of two in Gainesville, Florida. After he heard a demo of the song "Seeing You This Way", the rep took the tape to Don Ellis, VP of A&R for Epic. Minnie signed with Epic Records and the family moved to Los Angeles, California. "Perfect Angel" turned out to be one of Minnie Riperton's best selling albums. It turned out to be the best in the UK and US. Including the rock-soul anthem "Reasons", the second single "Take A Little Trip", and the third single "Seeing You This Way", sales of the album started out slow. Epic was ready to move on to the next record, but Rudolph convinced them to release another single. With the fourth single "Lovin' You", the album really caught on. In 1974, the song went to the top of the charts in the US, number two in the UK in 1975, and number three on the R&B charts in the US. The album Perfect Angel went gold, and Minnie was finally revered as the "lady with the high voice". The album also featured the song "Every Time He Comes Around", featuring Deniece Williams as the operatic soprano in the background. People who don't know the music of Riperton well may believe her to be a one-hit wonder, despite having a fairly successful R&B career. Later career After Perfect Angel, Minnie Riperton and Richard Rudolph started on Riperton's third album Adventures in Paradise. Keyboardist Joe Sample played throughout the album and helped co-write "Adventures in Paradise". The album was a modest success. Despite the R&B hit "Inside My Love" (a number five US R&B hit, later covered by Trina Broussard, and Chant Moore), the album didn't match the success of Perfect Angel. Riperton would sink back into mainstream obscurity, but enjoyed a good career in R&B. Minnie released her fourth album for Epic Records entitled Stay In Love. This album featured another colloaboration with Stevie Wonder in the funky, disco tune "Stick Together". In 1978, Riperton's attorney Mike Rosenfeld and her husband orchestrated a move to Capitol Records. After inking a new deal with Capitol, in April 1979 Minnie released her fifth and final album, simply titled Minnie. Her last televised performance was on an episode of The Merv Griffin Show (aired July 6, 1979), where she performed "Memory Lane". Illness and death In 1976 Riperton revealed to Flip Wilson, who was guest-hosting for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, that she had undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer. At the time of her diagnosis, Minnie found out that her cancer had already spread to the lymphatic system. In spite of such a grim prognosis, Minnie continued touring in 1977 and 1978, and became the National spokesperson for the American Cancer Society 78-79, but eventually the cancer would take its toll. By June of 1979 Minnie was confined to bed and she entered Cedars Sinai Hospital for the last time on Monday July 9. On Thursday July 12, 1979, Minnie Julia Riperton died peacefully in her husband s arms as they listened to a recording of a song Stevie Wonder had written for her. Posthumous recordings After Riperton died, several artists recorded posthumous duets with Minnie, including Peabo Bryson and Michael Jackson. Her last single, "Give Me Time, Love Lives Forever," was released in 1980. Richard Rudolph had a song, "Now That I Have You," for Riperton that she never recorded; he gave the song to Teena Marie, who recorded it (and co-produced it with Rudolph) for use on her sophomore LP Lady T. Finally, in 1982, Capitol Records released The Best Of Minnie Riperton, a greatest hits collection. Minnie Riperton. Retrieved frrom on 2007-02-09.


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Male, Age Private, Providence, RI

Posted May 03, 2014

We need African American millionaires that respect our African legends to put money up to produce movies of our African legends who are alive & the ones that made there transition. No disrespect I⿿m sick of Jews, Caucasians & everyone else monopolizing, taking making money of my ancestors legacy during & after there life telling there stories. Caucasians wouldn⿿t let a African produce , write also direct a bio picture movie of there hero⿿s like Elvis, & the Beatles just to name a few lol. We as Africans need to take control of our images & protect our legends by directing , writing also producing there work as a bio pic movie or what ever way we see fit to preserve there legacies with no chaser. Money is not the issue because many of us Have it so stop with the excuses & lets practice group economics have respect for our culture then lets get it done now is the time to build & pass on a strong legacy.


Male, 60, Australia

Posted April 30, 2012

lovin you is a Beautifull song...larry


Female, 45, Atlanta, GA

Posted November 08, 2010



Male, Age Private, Nanuet, NY

Posted October 13, 2010

Great Artist She is still, Hears Some Old School Music...4U dj4aday ( R&B ) With links to dj4aday4Children , Blues , Classical , Country , Gospel , Jazz , Reggae/Salsa , Rock,,All on BP ( Motown Music on our GUEST BOOK pages )


Female, Age Private, Columbus, OH

Posted August 26, 2010

You died a year before I was born but ever since I was little, I felt a connection to your music. I love your music Minnie. Rest In Peace


Female, Age Private, Baltimore, MD

Posted July 28, 2010



Male, Age Private, Baltimore, MD

Posted July 09, 2010

I put this song in My top Five (Ever). I think she can hold a note like no one else to inclue Aretha Franklin....


Male, 45, Staten Island, NY

Posted July 01, 2010



Female, Age Private, Cathedral City, CA

Posted June 06, 2010

No singer yet hit that note or octum range. I love her I miss her


Male, Age Private, Brooklyn, NY

Posted March 25, 2010

One of my all time favorite singers. Oh HOW I MISS HER BEAUTIFUL & SENSUOUS VOICE. Minnie R.I.P.

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