Minnie Riperton Listen


Digging Deep
Though she was taken from us far too early, aged only 31, in 1979, the American singer-songwriter and R&B/jazz diva Minnie Ripperton was something of a pioneer. Her No.1 hit single ‘Lovin’ You’, taken from the global smash album Perfect Angel, was but one highlight in a career that saw her working at Chess Records as a go-to backing singer for legends such as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. As part of the group Rotary Connection, Ripperton graduated from being the front-of-house girl at Chess to a becoming a member of one of the first black psych groups, whose ranks included the great Blue Thumb artist and guitarist Phil Upchurch. That grounding made her a natural for the solo life. Debut album Come To My Garden is a soul classic with progressive R&B elements reminiscent of soon-to-be mentor Stevie Wonder. With a post-Motown atmosphere and a much slicker emphasis on musicianship, Ripperton was one of the first female soul singers to utilise synths and early programming. She collaborated with Wonder’s pioneering team of Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil (check out their work with Stevie on the magnificent Music Of My Mind), made a bang-on LA crossover disc with various Crusaders and bowed out in 1979 with the self-titled Minnie, by which time she had been diagnosed with a terminal form of lymphatic cancer. There was a posthumous album, Love Lives Forever, and but a few choice compilations, but they are not enough. These days, Minnie Ripperton is the kind of singer that younger stars discover and revere (Kate Bush is a huge fan). And one might hear Ripperton’s influence in everyone from The Pointer Sisters and Chaka Khan to hip-hop artists Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, et al, who have sampled her melodies and beats. Renowned for her crystalline coloratura soprano, five-octave vocal range and the rare gift of being able to hit the upper register – a style that Mariah Carey emulated – Ripperton remains a largely unsung heroine. Time to take her out of the margins and belatedly put her into the spotlight.
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uDiscover Music transparent Essential Albums
Come To My Garden

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Perfect Angel

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Stay In Love

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Love Lives Forever

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