Barbara Randolph

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Barbara Randolph
Barbara Randolph, circa 1962.
Barbara Randolph, circa 1962.
Background information
Also known as Barbara Ann Sanders
Born (1942-05-05)May 5, 1942
Detroit, Michigan
Died July 15, 2002(2002-07-15) (aged 60)
South Africa
Occupation(s) singer and actress
Years active 1951–1989
Labels Motown Records
Soul Records
Nightmare Records
Spectrum Records
Associated acts Lillian Randolph
The 5 Red Caps
The Platters
Marvin Gaye

Barbara Randolph (5 May 1942 – 15 July 2002), also known as Barbara Ann Sanders,[1] was an African American singer and actress who recorded for Motown Records in the 1960s.


She was born in Detroit, Michigan, and was adopted by the actress Lillian Randolph,[2] who appeared in It's a Wonderful Life and many other movies. Barbara's show business career began – under the name Barbara Ann Sanders, having taken the name of Lillian's second husband[3][4] - when she was eight years old, playing the part of Tanya in Bright Road with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge.[5][6] In 1957, both she and her mother Lillian briefly joined Steve Gibson's, vocal group, The Red Caps, as singers. However, regardless of common belief, Lillian Randolph and Steve Gibson were not sister and brother and he is, therefore, not Barbara's uncle (although she may have affectionately referred to him as such). James "Jay" Price, a member of the Red Caps from 1952-8, says that, while Steve and Lillian jokingly called each other "sister" and "brother," they weren't related at all.[7] The story apparently started with a 31 December 1953 article in Jet Magazine that referred to Steve as Lillian's brother. It appeared in Major Robinson's gossip column, which carried the most outrageous (and unverified) claims from press agents. Most telling is that, in the 1910 United States Census, Lillian's mother was about 50, far too old to have given birth to Steve Gibson on October 12, 1914.[2][8][9][10] She also appeared in her mother's and Gibson's nightclub acts, using her mother's maiden (and stage) name of Randolph in 1957 (and would appear with the Red Caps on many occasions in the 1960s).[11][12]

Barbara Randolph first recorded as a solo singer for RCA Records in 1960.[13] In 1964 she joined The Platters, replacing singer Zola Taylor, but left after a year and an album (The New Soul of the Platters).[14] She also continued to work as an actress, taking the part of Dorothy in the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn.[1][12][15] In the same year, she signed with Motown Records, but only released two singles for the company on its subsidiary Soul label - "I Got a Feeling" / "You Got Me Hurtin' All Over" (Soul 35038), followed a year later by a version of "Can I Get a Witness" (Soul 35050), using the same B-side.[16] Neither record was commercially successful, but Randolph was sufficiently highly regarded to tour with Marvin Gaye as a replacement for Tammi Terrell after Tammi became ill.[1][17] Randolph also toured with The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Hugh Masekela as part of the "Motown Sound" show in 1968.[18] She was reportedly also considered as a replacement for Florence Ballard in 1967 for the Supremes, and Diana Ross in The Supremes in 1969.[19] In 1969 and 1970 Randolph issued two singles on Lee Hazlewood's LHI label: Woman To That Man and Miracle On 19th Street, but both never got beyond the status of promotional recordings.[20] Randolph used the year 1970 for entertaining US forces in Vietnam, returning to paid performances the next year.[21]

She married Eddie Singleton, who had been married to Berry Gordy's ex-wife, Raynoma Liles Gordy. They opened a production company together, and Barbara Randolph retired from singing, except to re-record a version of "I Got A Feeling" for the Nightmare label in the UK in 1989.[1] By that time, the track - and other recordings by Randolph during her brief recording career - had achieved considerable popularity in Britain on the Northern soul dance scene, and since the 1980s has been reissued on several compilation albums. A collection of her recordings, most of which dated from 1969 but had not been issued, was released by Spectrum Records in 2003.[19][22]

Barbara Randolph died from cancer in South Africa in 2002, at the age of 60.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d Barbara Randolph at Find A Grave
  2. ^ a b Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks: The Red Caps
  3. ^ Actress Lillian Randolph Divorces Mate. Jet. 17 December 1953. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Radio Actress Lillian Randolph Seeks Divorce. Jet. 5 March 1953. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Like Mother, Like Daughter. Jet. 25 September 1952. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "photo of movie poster for Bright Road". Wilbekin, Emil. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Goldberg, Marv - interview with James "Jay" Price on October 18, 2013
  8. ^ New York Beat. Jet. 31 December 1953. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  9. ^ Ward, Henry (11 April 1967). "Sammy Davis Shows Class at Civic Arena". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  10. ^ Brown, George F. (18 January 1967). "San Juan Entertainment-Steve Gibson's Back". The Virgin Island Daily News. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Lillian and Barbara Randolph at Allen's Tin Pan Alley". The Spokesman-Review. 29 July 1958. Retrieved 22 October 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Robinson, Louie, ed. (23 May 1968). Film Boost For Star's Daughter. Jet. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  13. ^ Barbara Randolph Seeks Record Stardom. Jet. 29 December 1960. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  14. ^ Goldberg, Marv. "Marv Goldberg's R & B Notebook-The Platters". Goldberg, Marv. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  15. ^ "Star's pretty daughter adds 'hip' to new film". The Afro American. 16 December 1967. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  16. ^ Soul Records discography
  17. ^ Barbara Randolph at Soulwalking
  18. ^ "Motown Sound? The Answer is at the Carousel". The Upland News. 29 May 1968. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Barbara Randolph at Super Soul Sisters
  20. ^ Barbara Randolph's discography on Discogs
  21. ^ Campbell, Tom (7 February 1971). "Miami Among New Disc Capitals". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  22. ^ Barbara Randolph: The Collection at