Sylvia Robinson (May 29, 1935 - September 29, 2011) was a highly acclaimed singer, songwriter, musician, producer, and record label executive. Born Sylvia Vanterpool in Harlem, New York, she began recording in 1950 at age 14 as Little Sylvia and released several singles on Jubilee and other labels. In 1954, she teamed up with guitarist Mickey Baker and formed the duo, Mickey & Sylvia, famous for the 1957 smash, "Love Is Strange." In 1967, with husband Joe Robinson, she co-founded All Platinum Records which signed such top acts as Donnie Elbert, Linda Jones, The Moments, and Shirley & Company. Robinson's many songwriting credits for other artists included The Moments' "Love On A Two Way Street" (1970) which she co-wrote and produced with Bert Keyes. She continued recording off and on throughout the 1960s under different monikers before re-launching her solo career under her first name with the release of her 1973 debut album, "Pillow Talk."
Robinson made her solo debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1960 as Sylvia Robbins with her perky rendition of the traditional pop standard, "Frankie And Johnny," which became a minor hit. Several other minor hits followed before her fame took off in 1973 with the self-penned, Grammy-nominated "Pillow Talk," a steamy early disco/soul ballad which topped the R&B charts and became a Top 5 Pop/Rock hit. Her many hits on both charts also included "Didn't I" (1973), "Soul Je T'Aime" (1973, with Ralfi Pagan), "Sweet Stuff" (1974), "Sho Nuff Boogie (Part I)" (1974, with The Moments), "Lay It On Me" (1977), and "Automatic Lover" (1978). Her final charting song came in 1982 on the R&B charts with "It's Good To Be The Queen."
In 1979, Sylvia and Joe Robinson co-founded Sugar Hill Records with Milton Malden to focus on the then-emerging rap/hip-hop music scene. Widely known as the "Mother of Hip-Hop," Robinson produced Sugarhill Gang's groundbreaking "Rapper's Delight" (1979), the first single of that genre to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also produced the critically acclaimed hip-hop classic, "The Message" (1982), by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Sylvia Robinson was honored in 2000 at the 11th Annual Rhythm and Blues Awards Gala with a Pioneer Award for her career in singing and being a co-founder of Sugarhill Records.
- The New York Times remembers Sylvia Robinson.
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- Pillow Talk 1973
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