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Here’s The Hidden History Behind This Famous Stephanie Mills Song | Essence

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Here’s The Hidden History Behind This Famous Stephanie Mills Song | Essence

By Kimberly WilsonEssence

If you’re not familiar with the Mtume songwriting team James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, then it’s time you brush up on your Black music history.

Stephanie Mills, for example, had her biggest chart success under the stewardship of Mtume and Lucas, including the 1980 hit “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” which won the 1981 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Performance.

But, after decades of singing along to the hit, there’s a history behind the song that many did not know — including Lucas’ daughter herself.

Full article @ Essence



KOLUMN Magazine – Context

Stephanie Mills

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Stephanie Dorthea Mills (born March 22, 1957) is an African American singer, songwriter and actress. Mills rose to stardom as “Dorothy” in the original Broadway run of the musical The Wiz from 1975 to 1977. The song “Home” from the show later became a Number 1 U.S. R&B hit for Mills and her signature song. During the 1980s, Mills scored five Number 1 R&B hits, including “Home”, “I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love”, “I Feel Good All Over”, “(You’re Puttin’) A Rush on Me” and “Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)”. Mills won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song “Never Knew Love Like This Before” in 1981.

Born Stephanie Dorthea Mills to Joseph and Christine Mills (as well as raised) in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Mills sang gospel music as a child at Brooklyn’s Cornerstone Baptist Church. Mills began her professional career at age nine, appearing in the Broadway musical Maggie Flynn. After winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater six weeks straight at age eleven, Mills went on to become the opening act for the Isley Brothers. In 1973, Mills was signed to Paramount records by Michael Barbiero, and her first single “I Knew It Was Love” was released. Mills was later signed to Motown. Her first two albums there failed to produce a hit, and Mills left the label in 1976. – Wikipedia


R&B legend James Mtume talks 'Juicy Fruit' and his career


Mtume was a funk and soul group that rose to prominence during the early 1980s and had several R&Bhits during its career. Its founder, former percussionistJames Mtume, previously played and toured with Miles Davis in the early 1970s. Other members of the group included Reggie Lucas, Philip Field and vocalist Tawatha Agee. Mtume also gained recognition after having its hit single “Juicy Fruit” extensively sampled by many hip-hop artists, most notably by the Notorious B.I.G. in the 1994 hit song ‘Juicy’; the song was also featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto:Vice City. The song ‘C.O.D. (I’ll Deliver)’ from their album You, Me, and He was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

During the start of the group’s career, they recorded three albums ,their first for Stata East (1972) titled ‘Alkebu-Lan- The Land of the Blacks’, and two for the independent label Third Street Records: Kawaida (1973); Alkebu-Lan (1975); and Rebirth Cycle (1977). However, not finding pop or R&B chart success, they signed to major label Epic Records in 1978, releasing the albums Kiss This World Goodbye (1978), and In Search of the Rainbow Seekers (1980), which found modest success on the R&B chart. Their 1983 album Juicy Fruit, however, provided Mtume with its biggest hit, when the title song reached number one for eight weeks on the U.S. R&B chart, and was certified gold by the RIAA, despite shying just off the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 at 45.

Mtume’s 1984 album You, Me, and He also proved to be a success with the title song reaching number 2 on the R&B chart. Their final R&B Top Ten hit was ‘Breathless’ (1986) from their final album Theater of the Mind. Mtume continued recording with Epic Records until the late 1980s. Group member Tawatha Agee subsequently went solo in 1987. – Wikipedia