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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. ~ Ed Hogan
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Once I was lost and now I'm found! Xo
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Love is so sweet
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Love is so sweet
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Automatic passion is my favorite song, but itunes doesn't have it. Bummer...
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Love listening to Stephine Mills music
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Love this song Thank You This Is The Best Song My Hole Family Love This Son It Has Been song at family members Home Going Thank You���������
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Good. Times
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Thank you and May God Bless every thing you do and touch....wou l d you be my FB family .
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During desert storm, this song came over the car stereo "HOME" when I was station in Germany And I saw the faces of solders going too this war. And it moved in such a profound way that gave me so much clarity MY GOD...
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,
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I FEEL GOOD
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Never knew love like this before # morrio❤️
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hlnrlms
Iove you fill like a ten again
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Stephanie i am so happy i got a chance to meet you in the 80s (Front row theatre Cleve) Still love your singing. Wish you would have did a duet with Luther Vandross
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What ya gonna do??? Oh yeah!!
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WHAT happened with you Stephanie Please come out with a Great album You sing so much better than Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey combined.
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One of my all time favorite dance cuts
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I absolutely LOVE Stephanie Mills all that out of such a Lil Thing....SMH ��...Old Skool all day
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Great
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Old skill***from her soul her very existence ***continue to ask for protection * * guidance & strength my dear sister of the struggle; sing***sing* * * s i n g ! !
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This lil lady the best of the best..Her voice is very powerful, special lady...
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meshamon
There never be another like Ms. Stephanie..a SANGER indeed!!! Love you always Stephanie & may God richly bless you..
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WONDERFUL VOICE..THEY DON'T MAKE THEM LIKE HER ANY MORE
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david.dio5
Love this song!!! Such amazing memories from the 80's
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Wonderful testimony... I love you and i will forever cheri8sh this recording!!!
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my6753
Amazing voice, classy lady....love me so Stephanie Mills
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Yes Yes never knew sweet memories like this before til I heard this beautiful nightingale sing it like this before!!!!
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I still remember. The things. Always thought I'll love was so right guess I was wrong. Still like a fire on a rainy night. We should never part.
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After losing what.really meant a lot to me
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Mrs. Mills Beautiful voice
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Nice <3
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Never had chance to grown
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I grew up listening to Mrs Stephanie Mills. I could relate to all of her songs. Song one of her songs in my High school talent shows and took 2nd place singing one in Fort Riley Kansas in a talent show. I feel good is one of my favorites.
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Mrs. Mills Great voice. Silk.
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Mrs. mILLS IS SO DAM GORGEOUS yES!
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The best voice in the business. .
.
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As a li girl this was n still is my mother song we will be singing that why I love music cause they jammed and had rocking systems aynts n uncles
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Little lady big voice love her
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Love YOU Stephanie, STILL!!!!! You are a BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AND YOU MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC....... : - ) . . .
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This is talent !!!!!!!!!!! God truly blessed u Stephanie. ...
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I have loved ms mills from when I first saw her and I still do had all her cassette when I was in the service love her !!!
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George Allen happened to be looking for something nice but not
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Stephanie Mills without question is one of the great R&B soul voices. She could sing with power and also a subtle vibrato which is her signature sound. I had the pleasure of seeing her 3 times (yes 3 times) back in the day at Westbury Music Fair (now Northfork Theater) in L.I. NY. Each performance was great and she always sounded fantastic. I might get some arguments on this but i would put her in my top 5 of classic female R&B voices. Her name might not be the first to come up in a conversatio
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It's a darn shame the new music industry don't appreciate Real Art such as this Woman's voice! Just priceless art!!!
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michelle.vth o m a s
Found out this past year that Stephanie Mills is a distant relative. I knew there was a reason why I always enjoyed her music as a little girl. Sing it cuz!!! :-)
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sing it girl
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An amazing talent. i saw her at the Hampton Coliseum a few weeks ago, she turned it out.
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God Bless this sensational singer she laid it down on this track on this vibe today
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lshwn34
Everytime I hear this song
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Songs that celebrated love told stories of substance.
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