Amii Stewart / December 2013 / Capri Film Festival
|Birth name||Amy Paulette Stewart|
|Born||January 29, 1956|
|Origin||Washington, D.C., USA|
|Genres||Disco, soul, Dance-pop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, dancer, actress|
|Associated acts||Mike Francis|
Amy Paulette "Amii" Stewart (born January 29, 1956) is an American Disco and soul singer and dancer most famous for her 1979 U.S. Billboard number 1 hit cover of Eddie Floyd's song "Knock on Wood", an all-time classic of the Disco genre. Stewart is the stepsister of actress-singer Miquel Brown and aunt to Brown's actress-singer daughter Sinitta.
Amy Stewart, the 5th out of 6 children, was born into a big, [strictly catholic, but] fun loving, country style family...as my mum was one of thirteen children. Her father, Joseph Stewart II, signed her up for singing and dancing lessons in 1960, when she was four years old. An Amy Stewart was already registered with the Actors' Equity Association, so she changed the spelling of her first name to Amii. She briefly enrolled in the Howard University in Washington but soon left for the Classical Repertory Dance Ensemble (CRDE) to study ballet and modern dance.
In 1975, prior to her signing a contract at Ariola Records, Stewart worked at the Touring company for the stage production of the musical revue Bubbling Brown Sugar, relocating to places of production, like Miami, then New York city's Broadway and eventually London's West End, where she met Barry Leng, songwriter and record producer for Hansa Records.
The song You Really Touched My Heart, a Leng/Simon May composition and produced by Leng, was Stewart's first recording, published by the end of 1977. An album followed, released in February 1979, which contained five Leng/May songs, one Leng/Morris song and three cover versions. The album yielded the single releases Knock on Wood and Light My Fire / 137 Disco Heaven.
Stewart's first single release, a Disco cover version of the 1966 Eddie Floyd composition "Knock on Wood" reached number one of the U.S. Billboard single charts in April 1979 and earned her a platinum record and a Grammy Award nomination. It also ranked high in the single charts throughout Europe and reached number 6 in the UK and number 2 in Australia. Another single, a medley cover song of the Doors classic Light My Fire and 137 Disco Heaven, entitled "Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven" was released in the same year, entering the charts and reached #5 in the UK, #14 in Australia and #69 in the US.
Disco music had by the end of the decade to a great deal arrived at its technical limits as growing anti-Disco sentiment eventually affected the US Music community. A new generation of musicians and fans, while idealizing ideas of authenticity and purity, rejected Disco as artificial, mindless, consumerist etc. Hard hit by the media, industry and markets, tasked with re-invention, had already departed from the Disco phenomenon and begun to feverishly scout for new trends.
Predominantly moderate interest in Stewart's Paradise Bird album, released in September 1979, came to no surprise. However, success and media feedback in Europe was unbroken. Europe's music industry and scene was the sum of many small and diverse outposts. New ideas would certainly be adopted as old ones preserved. Not declaring Disco dead, the UK, for example, was left with a somewhat controverse culture, that fed cynicism. The rest was a mess, where Punk rock and Diana Ross co-existed. Paradise Bird yielded two European single releases, Jealousy (#58 UK, #4 Italy, #5 Switzerland) and the double A-side The Letter/Paradise Bird (#39 UK 1980).
Stewart, however, remained confident about her career. She told her production team and record label to be changing styles slowly, so as not get caught in the shuffle. The source of inspiration would be her artistic background of theater, modern dance and melodic music.
Following her success in Europe Stewart relocated to Italy in the mid-1980s. and released the recordings "Friends" and "Together", produced in collaboration with Italian composer/musician Mike Francis. "Friends" was a big hit in the UK, Italy and the Philippines.
In the 1998 movie 54, actress/singer Mary Griffin portrayed Stewart, performing the song "Knock on Wood", at the famed discothèque Studio 54 in New York city. While performing, Griffin wore an apparently very similar extravagant outfit (and particularly the headgear) to that which Stewart wore in the official video to "Knock on Wood" in 1979. Although it was obvious that Griffin was portraying Stewart, the credits at the end of the movie have Griffin's character listed as Disco Star.
In 2000, Stewart toured Italy, playing the part of Mary Magdalene, in a revival of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The play also starred Carl Anderson, who revived his role of Judas Iscariot from the 1973 movie.
In 2004, Stewart published the studio album Lady Day, that contains sixteen cast recordings of the 2003 musical Lady Day, produced and oo-written by Stewart and Theater director Massimo Romeo Piparo. Based on the life of American Jazz and Blues singer Billie Holiday, Stewart starring as Billie Holiday herself, states: The idea for the musical was born from my passion for the wonderful voice of the 'Queen of Swing', but also for the music of the 1930s and 1940s and for the black renaissance of the time, of which she was the protagonist. and further: In that period of racism the foundations were laid for the rebirth not only of Blacks, but also of world music.
Since 2001, Stewart has been working as a goodwill ambassador for Unicef Italia and has been involved in numerous projects such as "Uniti per i bambini, Uniti contro l'AIDS" ("United for the children, united against AIDS"). In 2006, she recorded the charity single "Love Song" for UNICEF in four different languages, once again returning to work with Ennio Morricone. The following year saw her return to duet with Mike Francis on the track "Nothing Can Come Between Us". In 2006, Stewart and long-time friend and collaborator Ennio Morricone released the 5 track single "Love Song", sung in English, Italian, French, Spanish as well as a multilingual version. All proceeds from the single went to Unicef's campaign "Check Out For Children".
In 2014, she took part in the prime-time Rai TV show La Pista as teamleader of the Virality dance troupe. Stewart and the dance team became the overall competition winners. Other well known singer-contestants included Tony Hadley and Sabrina Salerno.
Stewart has been greatly affected by Italy, and living in Rome since the mid-1980s, has become fluent in Italian. UNICEF Italia introduces her in a mutually cordial tone, pointing out: The one between Amii Stewart and Italy is a beautiful love story. and she: has been "adopted" by our country and has certainly returned the affection received.
- Knock on Wood (1979) - AUS #38
- Paradise Bird (1979) - AUS #84
- Images (1981, Europe only)
- I'm Gonna Get Your Love (1981, US only)
- Amii Stewart (1983)
- Try Love (1984)
- Amii (1986)
- Time for Fantasy (1988)
- Pearls – Amii Stewart Sings Ennio Morricone (1990)
- Magic (1992)
- Lady to Ladies (1994)
- The Men I Love (1995)
- Love Affair (1996)
- Unstoppable (1999)
- Lady Day (2004)
- Caracciolo Street – Amii Stewart (Italian/English bilingual MP3 download album) (2010)
- Intense (2012)
- The Best of Amii Stewart (1985, includes the duet with Mike Francis, "Together")
- The Hits (1985, remix album)
- All Of Me (1995)
- Knock on Wood – The Best of Amii Stewart (1996)
- The Greatest Hits (2005)
- 17 Golden Hits – (Amii Stewart) (2010)
- "You Really Touched My Heart" [original release] (1978)
- "Knock on Wood" (1979) – U.S. #1, U.S. R&B #6, U.S. Club Play #5, UK #6, Germany #13
- "Light My Fire / 137 Disco Heaven (Medley)" (1979) – U.S. #69, U.S. R&B #36, UK #5, Germany #26
- "Jealousy" (1979) – Italy #4, Switzerland #5, UK #58, Belgium (Flanders) #18, Netherlands #28, Germany #31
- "The Letter / Paradise Bird" (1980) – UK #39
- "My Guy / My Girl (Medley)" (duet with Johnny Bristol) (1980) – U.S. #63, UK #39
- "Rocky Woman" (1981)
- "I'm Gonna Get Your Love" (1981)
- "Where Did Our Love Go" (1981)
- "Why'd You Have to Be So Sexy" (1981)
- "Great Balls of Fire" (1982)
- "Lay Back in the Groove" (1982)
- "Digital Love" (1982)
- "Working Late Tonight" (1983)
- "Grazie Perché (We've Got Tonite)" (duet with Gianni Morandi) (1983) – Italy #3
- "Friends" (1984) – U.S. R&B #46, UK #12, Italy #1
- "Try Love" (1984)
- "I Gotta Have You Back" – (1984, Italy only)
- "That Loving Feeling" (1985) – UK #95
- "Fever Line" (1985)
- "Together" (duet with Mike Francis) (1985) – Italy #9
- "Knock on Wood" / "Light My Fire" (Remix) (1985) – UK #7
- "You Really Touch My Heart" (1985) – UK #89
- "My Guy – My Girl (Medley)" (duet with Deon Estus) (1986) – UK #63
- "Love Ain't No Toy" (1986) – UK #99
- "Time Is Tight" (1986)
- "Break These Chains" (1986)
- "Saharan Dreams" (1987)
- "It's Fantasy" (1988) – Italy #14
- "I Still Believe" (1988)
- "Pearls" (with Ennio Morricone) (1990)
- "Don't Be So Shy" (1992)
- "Ordinary People" (2012)
- "Sunshine Girl" (with Gabry Ponte) (2013)
- Nicolae Sfetcu (9 May 2014). Dance Music. Nicolae Sfetcu. pp. 117–. GGKEY:N0SQHH2X92N.
- Giorgio Moroder (July 20, 2016). "The 35 Best Disco Songs Ever". Billboard. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
- "Eddie Floyd, KNOCK ON WOOD, LocoBop L2I-004" (PDF). LOCOBOP. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- James Arena (7 July 2017). Europe's Stars of '80s Dance Pop: 32 International Music Legends Discuss Their Careers. McFarland. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-1-4766-7142-0.
- "Disco Profiles - Amii Stewart". Comicgenius.com. 1979-01-27. Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 294. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Daniel J. Flynn (February 18, 2010). "How the Knack Conquered Disco". Rock Online Italia. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
- Jon Savage (17 February 2011). England's Dreaming. Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-26119-2.
- "Amii Stewart: "Sarò per sempre grata a 'Knock on wood' e alla disco" - Intervista". www.panorama.it. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
- Amii Stewart. "Lady Day (Cast Album Interpretations, Digital Version)". Napster. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- "Amii Stewart racconta Billie Holiday: 'Lady Day' a Milano dal 20 novembre". Rock Online Italia. November 12, 2003. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- "Amii Stewart - Quella tra Amii Stewart e l'Italia è una bella storia d'amore". Unicef. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
- "Amii Stewart – The Best Of Amii Stewart (Vinyl, LP) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Amii Stewart – "You Really Touched My Heart" @Discogs.com Retrieved 2-26-2014.
- "Jealousy" on hitparade.ch Archived April 19, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
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