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Loleatta Holloway (1980)

"Loleatta Holloway is easily one of the most internationally innovative, unique, versatile, creative and classiest ladies on the Disco/Pop scene today"

(Salsoul press bio, promoting "Love Sensation", 1980)

One of the positive aspects of Disco music that is overlooked or simply ignored by those who claim that it was the root of all evil (the thing that killed self-contained Funk bands, eliminated Gospel-based R&B and what have you) is that Disco served as a stepping stone for new talents (who may not otherwise had been given a shot at stardom) and also made it possible for countless seasoned R&B artists to revive their careers, many of who were on the verge of slipping into oblivion. They were gifted singers, musicians, songwriters, producers and arrangers who often had made their mark in the great Soul era of the late sixties, but had been struggling hard ever since then to find a new place for themselves in the fickle music business. Perhaps they would have been forgotten today, had not the Disco boom happened. This was certainly the case with Loleatta Holloway, a classy lady who had been performing and recording for a good number of years, before becoming a "Disco diva" in Salsoul's premier league.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1946, Loleatta Holloway was raised on the Windy City's west side. She began singing at the tender age of five and while still in her teens, sang professionally with the Holloway Community Singers, which was a traveling group of over 100 members, run by her mother who also was one of its founders. Besides singing, Loleatta took an interest in acting and studied drama in school. At 17, Loleatta was invited to join The Caravans, a renowned all female Gospel group led by Gospel giant Albertina Walker. The Caravans also included sometime members Shirley Caesar and Dorothy Norwood. Loleatta toured and recorded with the Caravans for the Savoy subsidiary Gospel and on Scepter's Hob label, before forming her own traveling company, Loleatta Holloway and her Review.

In 1971, after touring with the Review, starring in the Chicago cast of Micki Grant's successful musical "Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope" and most importantly, meeting her producer, personal manager and husband to-be, Floyd Smith, Loleatta decided to turn to secular music. Floyd produced her first secular recording, "Rainbow '71", a Curtis Mayfield song Gene Chandler had previously recorded in 1963. It was initially released on the tiny Apache label, but shortly thereafter got picked up for national distribution by Galaxy Records.

Loleatta Holloway 'Cry To Me' (LP, 1975)Entrepreneur Mike Thevis had just formed his General Recording Corporation in Atlanta, Georgia, when he caught Loleatta's performance one night. Thevis thought she'd be the perfect first act for his "Hotlanta Sounds" Soul label Aware and offered Loleatta a recording contract. She agreed and the result were five singles and two absolutely splendid albums, produced by Floyd Smith. The debut, "Loleatta" (1973) contained songs by Ashford & Simpson ("Love Woke Me Up"), Sam Dees ("So Can I"), Marvin Yancy and Charles Jackson ("Our Love") and yielded the double sided minor hit single "Mother Of Shame" b/w "Our Love". But it was with title track from her second LP "Cry To Me", that Loleatta first came into R&B prominence. "Cry To Me" was one of five Sam Dees' compositions on the LP and became a huge hit in the beginning of 1975. Today it's regarded a Deep Soul classic. The follow-up (yet another song from the pen of Sam Dees) "I Know Where You're Coming From", landed at a slightly disappointing #69 on Billboard's R&B singles charts later that year. Shortly thereafter, Aware folded, allegedly because Michael Thevis was running from the FBI, after being indicted on pornography charges (!).

Loleatta Holloway (1977)In 1976, Loleatta switched to the Salsoul distributed Gold Mind Records, to which she had been introduced via its owner, the late Norman "The Harris Machine" Harris. Harris, who died in 1987, was a brilliant guitarist and together with Ron Baker (bass) and Earl Young (drums), formed the prominent production/song writing/arranging/musician team of B-H-Y. The trio had been active on Philadelphia's Soul/Disco scene since the early sixties and made up M.F.S.B.'s rhythm section. In addition to playing on countless sessions, B-H-Y were an integral part in Salsoul's correspondence to M.F.S.B.; The Salsoul Orchestra, i.e. a massive studio band which successfully recorded in their own right, as well. Besides Loleatta, Baker, Harris and Young wrote, produced and played behind First Choice and Double Exposure, groups they had brought to Salsoul's roster and which were some of the label's best selling acts. They were also closely involved with a number of other artists, including The Trammps. Loleatta's debut single on Gold Mind, "Worn Out Broken Heart", which reached #25 on Billboard's R&B charts in November of '76, was nowhere near the sophisticated Disco her name is so tightly connected with today. Produced by Floyd Smith, the song was yet another Sam Dees ballad and Loleatta's further output would continue to mix danceable material with soulful balladry. The B-side of "Worn Out Broken Heart", "Dreamin'", was a Billboard Hot 100 hit. Both "Dreamin" and the follow-up "Hit and Run" were produced by Norman Harris and filled dance floors everywhere.

Loleatta's first LP on Gold Mind, simply entitled "Loleatta", was issued in 1977. Three tracks were recorded in Chicago and produced by Floyd Smith, the remaining five at Sigma Sounds in Philadelphia and featured B-H-Y's fellow M.F.S.B colleagues and Philly luminaries Ron Kersey (keyboards), Larry Washington (percussion), Bobby Eli, Roland Chambers (guitars), parts of M.F.S.B's string and horn section, plus Vince Montana, Jr. (vibes). Mr. Montana co-wrote Loleatta's next smash, "Runaway", which was a joint venture between Loleatta and The Salsoul Orchestra. Vince Montana Jr. -who has been declared a genius more than once by modern Disco connoisseurs- was a prolific man, not only did he play vibes, produce, write and arrange for The Salsoul Orchestra, he also directed both them and M.F.S.B.

'Love Sensation' (LP, 1980)Subsequent albums, "Queen Of The Night" (1978) and "Loleatta" (1979) spawned both underground and major hits like "Mama Don't, Papa Won't", "I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right On Time)", "Only You" (a duet with Bunny Sigler), "Catch Me On The Rebound", "All About The Paper" and "The Greatest Performance Of My Life". In 1979, Loleatta sang on the late Dan "Instant Replay" Hartman's huge Disco hit "Relight My Fire", a favor Hartman returned the following year when he produced "Love Sensation", which probably is the track Loleatta is best remembered for. "Love Sensation" was lifted from Loleatta's 1980 album of the same name, which also included "Short End Of The Stick", "Dance What 'Cha Wanna", "My Way" (produced by Bobby Womack and Patrick Moten) and Loleatta's heartfelt rendition of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (produced by Floyd Smith). According to the original press bio that accompanied "Love Sensation", the paintings of Loleatta on the album jackets of "Loleatta" (1979) and "Love Sensation", were done by artist/photographer Richard Bernstein "known for his unique covers on Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine". Bernstein's intention was reportedly to "bring out the softness, sensitivity and sexiness, inherent in Holloway".

'Loleatta' (LP, 1979)In 1982, Loleatta teamed up with The Salsoul Orchestra again, this time on "Seconds", which was a huge club hit. It was produced and written by Patrick Adams, like Vince Montana, Jr., an omnipresent and important figure on the Dance music scene, the kind whose name is whispered in awe by Discophiles. Adams was the brain behind Salsoul group Inner Life and was active as a writer and producer, especially on the rivaling Prelude label.

When Salsoul was sold to RCA in 1984 and subsequently ceased to release new product, Loleatta signed with the independent Streetwise label, owned by Arthur Baker (famed for producing Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force's "Planet Rock"). Just prior to Floyd Smith's death, Loleatta recorded "Crash Goes Love", which turned out to be a minor R&B hit in the U.S.. The B-side was a version of Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Sweet Thing".

Loleatta HollowayDuring the latter part of the eighties and early nineties, when it became fashionable to sample old records, Loleatta's voice could be heard on stacks of -primarily Italian- House productions. Blackbox' "Ride On Time" is a blatant example, but American teen idol Marky Mark and his "Funky Bunch" also made good money from sampling "Love Sensation" on their Top 10 hit "Good Vibrations" in 1991. Since then, Loleatta has recorded for various independent labels, such as DJ International, Warlock, Saturday Records and Triangle, where she cut "Do That To Me (Set Me Free)" in 1991. There has also been several remixes of Loleatta-anthems, such as "Hit and Run", by Johnny Vicious, on the Vicious Music label. Johnny's style has been described as "Punk-Disco" which makes me glad I've never heard any of his work. Around 1993-94, Vicious also put out "Stand Up", a track where Loleatta didn't sing, but spoke of things women need to stand up for, possibly sampled from a live recording.

Fire Island feat. Loleatta Holloway 'Shout To The Top'In 1995, Loleatta toured in Japan and Europe, performing in the U.K., France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The ensuing year, Loleatta had a quadruple by-pass operation and was forced to spend much of the rest of that year recuperating. Two years later, Billboard Magazine reported from Beatstock, held at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York. Beatstock was an all-day outdoor festival, celebrating twenty years of dance and music. Besides Loleatta, the 40-act bill included Crystal Waters, France Joli, Vicki Sue Robinson, Carol Douglas and Rochelle Fleming. According to the reporter, Loleatta was in good spirits, whooping it up with Carol Douglas and Rochelle Fleming of First Choice, but admitted to having grown a little weary of life on the road. But she noted being grateful for her fans' continued interest and told Billboard that what little time she has at home in Chicago, much is spent demoing new material, and that she is shopping a label deal in the USA.

In the spring of 1998, the much anticipated collaboration between Loleatta and British Dance act Fire Island (a trio consisting of DJ's/writers/producers Terry Farley, Pete Heller and Gary Wilkinson) was finally released. "Shout To The Top", penned by Paul Weller and originally recorded by the Style Council, was the first record to be issued on JBO which was a joint venture between the Junior Boy's Own label and Virgin-founder Richard Branson's V2. The 12" single featured remixes from Frankie Knuckles, Industry Standard, Roach Motel and Club 69.

Although Loleatta's record output has been irregular in later years, she has maintained a strong and supportive following and continues to travel around the world.

Suggested Loleatta Holloway CD listening
Loleatta (her Salsoul debut) - - 20-1003-2 (U.S.)
Love Sensation - - 20-1012-2 (U.S.)
The Hotlanta Soul of Loleatta Holloway 1996 Kent/Ace CDKEND 135
Love Sensation 1996 CNR 530 01 02
Note: Some of Loleatta's best Salsoul efforts can also be found on these compilations from CNR: Salsoul Classics Vol. 1 (530 01 07), Salsoul Classics Vol. 2 (530 01 08), 12" Gold Master Series Vol. 1 (530 01 09), 12" Gold Master Series Vol. 2 (530 01 10), 12" Gold Master Series Vol. 3 (530 01 11) and The Salsoul Orchestra "Anthology" 2-CD (530 01 05).
Loleatta Holloway LP Discography
Loleatta 1977 Gold Mind/Salsoul 6.22965 AO (German pressing)
Queen Of The Night 1978 Gold Mind/Salsoul GA 9501
Loleatta 1979 Gold Mind/Salsoul GA 9504
Love Sensation 1980 Gold Mind/Salsoul GA 9506
Pre-Salsoul LP's
Loleatta 1973 Aware AA2003
Cry To Me 1975 Aware AA2008



Aurra | Joe Bataan | Rafael Cameron | Instant Funk | Skyy | Salsoul Bio


Maria Granditsky February 1997.
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