Minnie Riperton (November 8, 1947 - July 12, 1979) was a critically acclaimed R&B/soul singer and songwriter with a unique angelic voice and a phenomenal five-octave range. She is best remembered for her 1975 smash hit, "Lovin' You," a smooth romantic ballad in which chirping songbirds provide intermittent background vocals.
Born Minnie Julia Riperton in Chicago, Illinois in a musical family, she studied music, drama, and dance at the city's Abraham Lincoln Center as a child and was trained in operatic vocal techniques. She began singing professionally at age 15 with a Chicago-based girl group known as The Gems who, at that time, were signed on to Chess Records. She recorded several singles with Chess and also provided backup vocals for such top acts as Fontella Bass, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, and Muddy Waters. From 1968-1971, Riperton served as the lead singer for Rotary Connection, a psychedelic soul band with several minor hits. During that period, she launched her solo career, releasing her first album in 1968, "Come To My Garden." She relocated to Los Angeles in 1973 with her husband, songwriter and music producer Richard Rudolph. With Stevie Wonder, he co-produced her second album, the gold-certified "Perfect Angel," which was released in 1974 by Epic Records. Riperton and Rudolph co-wrote most of this album's tracks, including her signature song, "Lovin' You."
Riperton made her chart debut in 1975 with "Lovin' You," which topped the Pop/Rock charts and reached #3 on the R&B charts. This song also became a Top 10 hit on the Canadian, U.K., Australian, and many other charts world-wide. Her hits, which continued mainly on the R&B charts through 1981, also included "Inside My Love" (1975), "Memory Lane" (1979), "Lover And Friend" (1979), and "Here We Go" (1980).
Riperton's life and career were tragically cut short in 1979 at age 31 by breast cancer. In 1977, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, and the following year, she was presented the American Cancer Society's Courage Award by President Jimmy Carter at the White House. She continued to record and tour throughout most of the late 1970s.
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- Lovin' You 1975
(This romantic R&B ballad which topped the charts, showcases Minnie Riperton's amazing five-and-a-half octave range. The sounds of chirping songbirds can also be heard in the background.)
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