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The Three Degrees

Philly soul vocal group the Three Degrees started in 1963 in Philadelphia, PA. They were discovered by producer and songwriter Richard Barrett. Barrett was a key force for 1950s groups the Chantels, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and his own group the Valentines. The original lineup was Fayette Pickney, Shirley Porter, and Linda Turner. Barrett recorded this lineup on their first single, "Gee Baby (I'm Sorry)." In 1963, Linda Turner and Shirley Porter left the group and were replaced by Helen Scott and Janet Jones. Around this time, Barrett began managing and producing Sheila Ferguson who was a high school friend of Scott. Barrett got deals for both the group and Ferguson with Swan Records. By 1966, Helen decided to leave the group and become a housewife. Sheila Ferguson took her place. She sang backup on all the Three Degrees' Swan recordings, as did the Three Degrees for her solo singles. In 1967, Valerie Holiday joined the group, while Janet Jones departed. Over the next four years, both the Three Degrees and Ferguson released many singles.

In 1970, now signed to Roulette Records, the Three Degrees scored their first national chart hit with a remake of the Chantels' "Maybe". It went to number four R&B in summer 1970. The follow-up, "I Do Take You," peaked at number seven R&B. Barrett got the group short-term deals with Warner Bros., Metromedia, and Gamble & Huff's Neptune Label. The group had a cameo in the classic 1971 movie The French Connection starring Gene Hackman and toured with Engelbert Humperdink. In 1973, Barrett worked a deal with Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records (PIR). The Three Degrees' first PIR single was "Dirty Ol' Man," a disco hit. A short time later, Don Cornelius, producer and host of TV's Soul Train, approached Gamble & Huff about coming up with a new theme song for his hit syndicated show. The Three Degrees were asked to do vocals at the end of the show's new theme track. After some airings, public demand forced the TV show's theme to be released as a single. "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring the Three Degrees went gold hitting number one R&B and holding the number one pop for two weeks during spring 1974. Meanwhile, a previously released Three Degrees single, "Year of Decision," stalled at number 74 R&B. Another MFSB/Three Degrees single, "Love Is the Message," peaked at number 42 R&B in the summer of that year. In the summer of 1974, PIR released another single on the group, "When Will I See You Again." The single went platinum, selling over two million copies, going to number four R&B and number two pop around September 1974. Their PIR debut album, The Three Degrees, was released at the end of 1974. The follow-up, "I Didn't Know," written and produced by Bunny Sigler, went to number 18 R&B in early 1975. The group performed the song on a guest appearance on the hit NBC show Sanford and Son. Their only other charting PIR single was "Take Good Care of Yourself" (number 64 R&B in summer 1975).

Around 1976, Pickney left the group and was replaced by returning member Helen Scott. CBS released their album Standing up for Love in the U.S. in 1977. In 1978, the Three Degrees were signed to European label Ariola Records. The group recorded three LPs for the label. Longtime favorites in the U.K., the group performed at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles' 30th birthday party and they were guests at his wedding to Princess Diana. During the first half of the '80s, the Three Degrees released U.K.-issued albums, Album of Love and Live in the UK and singles, "Liar" and "A Sonnet to Love." Stock/Aitken/Waterman produced a 1985 U.K. chart hit, "The Heaven I Need," on the group for Supreme Records. In 1986, Sheila Ferguson left the group. With Helen Scott, Valerie Holiday, and Victoria Wallace, the group recorded an album for Ichiban Records, ...And Holding! The act recorded another live CD with Billy Paul and Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes during a TSOP tour in the summer of 1989. Scott, Holiday, and new member Cynthia Garrison recorded three albums in the 1990s. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi
full bio

Comments

Three is always a winning number. 14y 1m
I remember their music from the Garage years lower eastside Larry Levan mixes.
THIS IS MY SONG!!
Around 1968, The Three Degrees filled in for The Supremes, at Blinstrub's THE #1 Boston Nite Club. Their reviews were astounding.. . My girl friend and I were there!! They then switched over to The Bright Spot in Boston's Brighton section, next to B.U. and Harvard.... We followed them to that venue and attended two shows a week for their run...which turned out to be 3 or 4 months long... We got to be their friends, and Boston claimed them as their own. Valerie, Fayette and Shirley!!
When Will I See You Again got a little praise from David Carradine in Kill Bill II
I love the group, I'm glad my mother listened to all the greatest hits from her time and introduced them to me and my brother. We have so many songs in our head thanks to my mother
joylady90056
I love this song and their harmony!!!!
They were great on sanford and son
In Boston, in the mid 60's.. the Three Degrees filled in for the Supremes at Blinstrub's. . . t h e biggest Supper Club in the area. They were held over for two or more weeks, and then opened immediately at The Bright Spot in the Brighton section of Boston...whe r e the ran for about 6 months straight, and myself and friends would go to see them weekly for all those months. We got to be friends with Valerie, Fayette and Sheila...

it's been 45years since that summer of 66. I still miss them
I 1st saw this group on an episode of Sanford & Son, singing 'When Will I See U Again'; they were great!!!
ahh the 70's at their best.......
pammysc1
I love this song. It brings back so many memories.
johnwesleypi t t s
I love this version better than the original!
I love this group I grew up watch my big sisters dance to them and then when it was my turn I played this group with many others for my son, neices and nephews while we tried to copy the dances my sisters did while I was in grammer school. Today this very tradition that started with my older sisters is still being done by their grandchildre n and great grandchildre n . Let the love of good music stay in your hearts

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