Minnie Julia Riperton ( November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979 ) was an American singer and songwriter noted for her five-and-a-half octave vocal range, with her 1975 single "Lovin' You."
As a child, Riperton studied music, drama, and dance at Chicago's Lincoln Center. As a teen, Riperton sang lead vocals for the Chicago-based girl group the Gems. Her early affiliation with the legendary Chess record label afforded her the opportunity to sing backup for such acts as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. While with Chess, Riperton also sang for the experimental rock/soul group Rotary Connection from 1967 to 1971. In 1969 Riperton and the Rotary Connection played in the first Catholic Rock Mass at the Liturgical Conference National Convention, Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee, WI. produced by James F. Colaianni. Riperton reached the apex of her short career with her number one hit single,"Lovin' You," in the spring of 1975. The single was the last release from her 1974 gold album "Perfect Angel."
In 1976, at the age of twenty-eight, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. In 1977 Riperton became the first black female to serve as spokesperson for the American Cancer Society and to receive the Society's Courage Award from then-President Jimmy Carter. On Thursday July 12, 1979, at the age of 31, Riperton lost her valiant struggle with cancer. She died peacefully in her husband's arms while listening to a recording of a song Stevie Wonder had written for her. On Sunday July 15, 1979, Riperton was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, following a funeral service attended by more than five hundred mourners. In addition to her musical legacy, Minnie Riperton is survived by her husband, Richard Rudolph; son, Marc Rudolph; and daughter, Maya Rudolph, a one-time cast member of Saturday Night Live. ~ Wikipedia.org
"This album was released in the year in which the supreme songstress passed (1979). However, she bestowed upon the listener her gift of voice with a collection of fine songs. The first release was the nostalgic number "Memory Lane." With its senusous-flowing rhythm, melodious string and horn arrangement, Minnie Riperton strides into the lyric with her silky delivery. The single peaked at number 16 on the Billboard R&B charts after a 22 week run. The follow-up single was the vivacious "Lover and Friend." Stevie Wonder's verbal intro bow to a spirited horn introduction. Seasoned with a muted rumbling bassline, a soft texture and supported by a majestic horn arrangement, Minnie Riperton's velvety tone takes charge. She graciously embraces the lyric with style. The single peaked at number 20 after 13 weeks. These were the only two songs to chart from this album, and unfortunately they were more worthy of a better ranking. Nonetheless, they remain staples of R&B radio. It must also be noted that while Minnie Riperton's voice was as silky as the incomparable Billie Holiday's, she had the innate ability to controllably explode into higher octaves without forsaking the beauty of her voice. This admirable quality elevates her to a class of her own."
Minnie Riperton - Minnie Tracks:
01 Memory Lane (4:23)
02 Lover And Friend (4:13)
03 Return To Forever (4:07)
04 Dancin' & Actin' Crazy (6:03)
05 Love Hurts (3:35)
06 Never Existed Before (4:17)
07 I'm A Woman (4:00)
08 Light My Fire (5:09)