Angela Winbush

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Angela Winbush
Born (1955-01-18) January 18, 1955 (age 59)
Origin St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Genres R&B, Soul
Occupation(s) Singer, Songwriter, Keyboardist, Producer, Composer
Years active 1980 – present
Labels Hip-O, Mercury, Elektra, Island
Associated acts René & Angela, René Moore, The Isley Brothers, Stephanie Mills, Lalah Hathaway, Sheena Easton, Stevie Wonder

Angela Winbush (born January 18, 1955)[1] is an American R&B/soul singer-songwriter who rose to fame first in the 1980s R&B duo René & Angela, also scoring hits as a solo artist. To date, Winbush has sold over ten million albums and singles worldwide.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Angela began singing in church. She grew up in a loving and family-oriented household in a nice middle-class area of St. Louis. She did not initially aspire to a career in music, instead studying architecture at Howard University,[3][4] singing only to earn extra money. She continued to sing in church while at Howard as well as with gospel legend Richard Smallwood. She also performed as a singer with a group called "Hot Tea" while she attended Howard University. They opened for various well-known performers during shows and also did background singing for recording artists. One of the other members of "Hot Tea" was Tawatha Agee, who later did a lot of background singing on the albums of several well-noted recording artists, eventually joining the funk/soul band Mtume. By 1977, Angela had changed her major to music education and recorded a demo. She shopped it to various record labels with no success but, through a personal introduction furnished by respected industry veteran, Wayne K. Garfield, the demo was heard by New York disc jockey Gary Byrd, who made the call that landed Angela a spot in Stevie Wonder's backing vocal group, Wonderlove. Becoming Wonder's protégé, she learned a great deal about writing and arranging songs. While in Los Angeles with Wonder, Angela met singer Rene Moore. The two formed the duo René & Angela later that year. They soon came to the realization that they could be successful as duo music writers and producers for others as well, and began pursuing that goal. René & Angela released their self-titled debut album in 1980, followed by Wall to Wall in 1982 and Rise in 1983. During this period they had two moderate R&B hit singles, "I Love You More" and "My First Love".

A Street Called Desire and meeting Ron Isley[edit]

During Rene & Angela's early years, Moore and Winbush were asked to write and produce four songs for Janet Jackson's 1982 self-titled debut album, Janet Jackson. One of the songs, "Young Love", became Jackson's first top ten R&B hit reaching number six on the chart.[5] They also wrote exclusively for Stephanie Mills, who forged a close friendship with Winbush (their "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love", gave Mills her first-ever #1 R&B single, in 1985). Winbush would later write another Mills number one R&B hit with "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel". Between that, Rene & Angela decided to branch out and find a bigger fan base signing with Mercury Records in 1984. They released their breakthrough album, A Street Called Desire the following year. Among the hit singles included on the album was their first R&B number one with the dance single, "Save Your Love (For #1)", which included guest vocals from rapper Kurtis Blow, making it besides Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You", one of the first songs to prominently feature a rapper. Other hit singles included "I'll Be Good", the mostly Winbush-led "Your Smile" was another number one hit, while the subsequent "You Don't Have to Cry" hit number two in the beginning of 1986. Eventually A Street Called Desire sold over a million copies, going platinum, but on the brink of their greatest success, tensions between Winbush and Moore had grown. After their split, Moore would continue to find success as a songwriter and producer, most notably for Michael Jackson.

In 1986, Winbush was introduced to Ronald Isley, lead singer of the influential Isley Brothers after Benny Medina had agreed to ask Winbush to be involved with the Isleys' next record when Isley proposed plans to work with Winbush on a future project. Producing, writing and arranging the Isleys' Smooth Sailin' album, Winbush helped the group, now featuring just Ronald and Rudolph (eldest brother O'Kelly had died the previous year), score a top 10 R&B hit with the title track.[6]

Sharp and subsequent follow-ups[edit]

In turn, Isley opted to manage Winbush and he helped in the process of releasing her debut solo album, Sharp, which was also released in 1987. The album included the huge hit, "Angel" which showcased Winbush's four-octave range. The song reached the #1 R&B position for two weeks in 1987. Other notable hits include the dance track, "Run to Me", "C'est Toi (It's You)" and the Ron Isley duet, "Hello Beloved". The album spent twenty-eight weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart and fifty-one weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[7][8] In 1988, she wrote and produced two tracks for Sheena Easton's gold album The Lover in Me. They were "Without You" and "Fire and Rain", both of which showcased Easton's lower range and surprisingly soulful vocals. In 1989, Winbush released her follow-up to Sharp with It's the Real Thing. The title track reached number two on the R&B chart while subsequent hits "No More Tears" and "Lay Your Troubles Down" continued Winbush's top 40 success on the R&B charts where she was now a fixture on despite failed attempts to cross her over to pop audiences.[9] She sang the song she wrote for Stephanie Mills ("I Have Learned To Respect The Power of Love") on the "It's The Real Thing" album. On June 26, 1993, Winbush and longtime manager/collaborator/lover Ronald Isley, who is thirteen years Angela's senior, married. A year later Winbush released her third self-titled solo album, which included the huge R&B hit, "Treat U Rite". Produced by Chuckii Booker, the song peaked at number six on the R&B chart making it Winbush's ninth top ten R&B hit altogether in her career. In 1996, Winbush was featured on the Isley Brothers' (rejoined by brothers Ernie and Marvin) hit "Floatin' On Your Love", which was essentially a duet between Winbush and Ron Isley. The song was later remixed by Sean "Puffy" Combs and featured guest vocals from Lil' Kim and the group 112 in backgrounds. The video for it showcased Winbush serenading Isley's Mr. Biggs character. Winbush continued to collaborate with the Isley Brothers until 2001's Eternal, where afterwards, their marriage had cooled off. In 2002, Winbush and Isley quietly divorced. In 2003, Winbush made news when it was found out she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Eventually after a successful surgery, the cancer was in remission and Winbush returned to perform on the road.

Legacy and influence[edit]

Since starting out with Rene & Angela, Winbush and Moore have played an influence on various R&B and hip-hop acts. In the latter genre, their music has been sampled by acts such as The Notorious B.I.G. (who featured her and Jay-Z on his Rene & Angela-sampled "I Love You More" for the song "I Love the Dough"), Foxy Brown (who sampled her "I'll Be Good" for her 1997 top ten hit, "I'll Be", Rapper Sylk-E. Fyne's 1998 hit "Romeo and Juliet" that samples Rene and Angela's "You Don't Have to Cry", and last but not least singer Avant re-recorded the Rene & Angela ballad, "My First Love", with singer Keke Wyatt in 2000. In appreciation during Avant's performance of the song on BET's 106 & Park, in 2001, Winbush surprised the audience by singing alongside Avant on the song. As a singer, Winbush is well noted by her gospel-influenced musical humming during her songs. She has influenced the likes of Syleena Johnson and Chante Moore. Winbush and former partner Rene Moore also shared the distinction for being one of the first R&B acts to prominently feature a rap act in a R&B song sharing that distinction with Jody Watley, Chaka Khan and funk band Cameo. Winbush also carries the distinction of being one of the few female artists to find success as a songwriter, arranger, producer and session musician (Winbush also is an avid musician playing piano and keyboards).

Personal life[edit]

During a 2006 interview on the Christian TV show, Gospel of Music with Jeff Majors, Winbush disclosed that she'd overcome Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer after 6 months of chemotherapy in 2003. During the interview she revealed that her undying faith in God got her through having a cyst (benign) removed from her breast, the ending of her marriage to Isley in divorce, and her struggle with depression.[10]

Recent TV appearances[edit]

After years of being missed from mainstream TV, in March 2010 diehard R&B fans got a rare treat to see Angela Winbush perform her R&B classic Angel, live on the late night talk show The Mo'Nique Show, which airs weeknights on BET at 11PM EST. The soul icon was at her best, displaying her multi-octave range before her mesmerized audience, and letting them know "this ain't no tape." See the performance at www.bet.com/moniqueshow. (The direct link to this specific show is: https://www.bet.com/video/969959. Angela performs just after the second break.)

She was also featured on the TV One documentary Unsung which first aired in October 2010. It was revealed that Rene Moore became violent with Winbush, in latter years, which led Winbush to cease her musical journey with Moore because she was no longer interested in being a member of "Rene & Angela". Moore declined to be interviewed for this "Unsung" show.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[11] Record label
US US
R&B
1987 Sharp 81 7 Mercury
1989 The Real Thing 113 12
1994 Angela Winbush 96 11 Elektra
"—" denotes the album failed to chart

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Ultimate Collection (2001, Hip-O)
  • Greatest Love Songs (2003, Hip-O)

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions[12]
US
R&B
US
1987 "Angel" 1
"Run to Me" 4
1988 "C'est Toi (It's You)" 47
"Hello Beloved" 26
1989 "It's the Real Thing" 2
1990 "No More Tears" 12
"Lay Your Troubles Down" 10
"Please Bring Your Love Back" 70
1994 "Treat U Rite" 6 117
"Inner City Blues" 49
1996 "Floatin' on Your Love" (with The Isley Brothers) 14 47
"—" denotes the single failed to chart

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award
1987 Soul Train Music Award nomination for Single of the Year (Female) for "Angel"
1987 Soul Train Music Award nomination for Album of the Year (Female) for Sharp

References[edit]

External links[edit]