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Roxanne R. Reed

[Delois Barrett and the Barrett Sisters]

Gospel trio. Its members were Delores [Delois] (soprano), Billie (alto), and Rhodessa (high soprano) Barrett. Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, they grew up with seven other siblings and were members of the Morning Star Baptist Church where they sang in a choir directed by their aunt. As the Barrett–Hudson Singers, Delores and Billie had performed in a group with a cousin, whom Rhodessa later replaced to form the Barrett Sisters. Delores, the eldest and the group’s leader, started singing at the age of six. Her professional career began in earnest after graduating from Englewood High School, when she became the first female to join the Roberta Martin Singers (1944; see martin, Roberta ). Billie and Rhodessa received some formal training, but it was through the Roberta Martin Singers that Delores learned technique and honed her individual style, along with the unique ensemble quality known as the Roberta Martin sound. Delores continued to sing with Martin from time to time, even as the Barrett Sisters took shape. Getting their start as an African American gospel trio, the Barrett Sisters first recorded with the label Savoy (...

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Paul R. Laird

(Dawn)

(b Broken Arrow, OK, July 24, 1968). American singer and actress. Chenoweth began her stage career singing for church functions before earning a BFA in musical theater and a master’s degree in opera performance from Oklahoma City University. Summer stock, beauty pageants, and off-Broadway roles preceded her Broadway debut in Kander and Ebb’s Steel Pier (1997). She portrayed Sally, a role envisioned for her, in the 1999 revival of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (winning a Tony Award) and starred in the play Epic Proportions the same year. Chenoweth has enjoyed a simultaneous television career, appearing in small-screen adaptations of Annie (1999) and The Music Man (2003) and working on series such as the eponymous Kristin, The West Wing, Pushing Daisies, Glee, and Good Christian Belles. Her most memorable role on Broadway was Glinda in Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked (2003), a part that she played for two years in workshops before the premiere and which was tailored to her unique talents. Later credits include Cunegonde in a semi-staged version of ...

Article

Horace J. Maxile

Gospel vocal duo. The group members are Erica Atkins-Campbell (b Inglewood, CA, 29 April 1972) and her sister Tina Atkins-Campbell (b Inglewood, CA, 1 May 1974). Taking their professional name from biblical subjects—Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene—the duo stands among the more innovative voices in urban contemporary gospel. These sisters were nurtured by parents and siblings who were all gospel singers. Aspirations to become professional singers led to jobs as backup singers for notable R&B performers, but discomfort with some secular themes prompted their turn from that style and toward an edgy sacred sound. Mary Mary’s first two albums, Thankful (2000) and Incredible (2002), produced singles with major crossover appeal and introduced audiences to their decidedly contemporary stylishness. This style is noted in their flashy dress and modern hairstyles as well as in their tightly produced grooves that receive airplay in both gospel and R&B radio markets. Elements of their highly modern, and sometimes controversial, approach include influences of house music, hip hop, jazz, and R&B. While songs like “Shackles,” “Heaven,” and “In the Morning” represent the more successful contemporary songs that appeal to younger generations, the duo has roots firmly planted in the traditional sounds of gospel music as represented in “Can’t Give Up Now” and “Yesterday.” In complement to their accomplishments as singers are their credits as songwriters and producers; they wrote one of the charting singles on Yolanda Adams’ ...

Article

Jessica L. Brown

(b Springfield, MA, April 15, 1965). American Singer, songwriter, and producer. She was raised in a musical household, which exposed her to a wide variety of music. In 1989, while performing in a variety of small venues in San Francisco’s Bay Area, she was recruited into the band 4 Non Blondes as lead singer. The band released their debut album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Interscope, 1992); it contained the group’s biggest hit, “What’s going on?,” which was written by Perry and brought the band’s pop-rock sound and Perry’s powerful voice to mainstream audiences. Perry has identified herself as a lesbian, and during the Billboard Music Awards in 1994 she attracted attention by performing with the word “dyke” on her guitar. Before 4 Non Blondes could complete a second album, Perry left the band to pursue a solo career. In 1996 she released In Flight to critical praise but poor commercial sales. In ...