Her mom christened Charlene (born June 1, 1950, in Hollywood, CA) Charlene Marilynn D'Angelo. Who would have thought a recording career with Motown, years later, would twist and turn more than a Rubik's Cube? She signed to the label in 1973, when she was 23 years old, as Charlene Duncan. Her first single, "All That Love Went to Waste," came in January 1974, sandwiched between Edwin Starr's "Ain't It Hell Up in Harlem" and the Jackson Five's "Dancing Machine.
She next appeared on Motown's Prodigal label three years later with "It Ain't Easy Comin' Down," which was credited to Charlene, though an album issued the same month had Charlene Duncan on the spine (confusingly, it was titled Charlene). Another album, Songs of Love from May 1977, was a repackaging of the previous album with a new version of one song, "I've Never Been to Me," this time missing a spoken bridge. Issued as her third single, it became the most successful to date with a number 97 showing on the charts. She released one more single on Motown, 1980's "I Won't Remember Ever Loving You," but then was dropped until 1982, when "I've Never Been to Me" became a radio hit. Motown re-recorded the song with the deleted spoken bridge -- which preached about abortion and unborn children -- and it soared to number three on the pop chart in 1982.
Unfortunately, Charlene was never able to follow up her lucky break with another hit. "Used to Be," a duet with Stevie Wonder, notched at number 46 in 1982, though it was her last chart entry. Lack of hits, however, didn't prevent Motown from emptying its vaults of Charlene tracks. Her third LP, I've Never Been to Me, came out in March 1982, and again one month later with a different cover. The Sky Is the Limit dropped in January 1983, and Hit and Run Lover appeared a year and a half later. Her recording of "Fire" appeared on The Last Dragon soundtrack from the movie of the same name, but after leaving Motown again in 1985, she seemingly dropped from the face of the earth. ~ Andrew Hamilton