Deniece Williams

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Deniece Williams
Birth name June Deniece Chandler
Also known as Niecy Williams
Born (1950-06-03) June 3, 1950 (age 68)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1968–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website deniecewilliams.com

Deniece Williams (born June Deniece Chandler; June 3, 1950) is an American singer, songwriter and producer. She has been described as "one of the great soul voices" by the BBC.[1] Williams has won four Grammys with twelve nominations altogether.[2][3]

Biography[edit]

1950–1975: Early life and career[edit]

Born in Gary, Indiana, Williams attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, in the hopes of becoming a registered nurse and an anesthetist, but dropped out after a year and a half. Of the experience she went on to say "You have to be a good student to be in college, and I wasn't."[4] Williams went on to start up performing at the time. She later exclaimed "I got a part-time job singing at a club, Casino Royal, and I liked it. It was a lot of fun." During those years Williams also worked in a telephone company and as a ward clerk at the Chicago Mercy Hospital.[4] As Deniece Chandler, she recorded for The Toddlin' Town group of labels. One of those early records, "I'm Walking Away", released on Toddlin's subsidiary Lock Records in the late 1960s, is a favorite on England's Northern Soul scene. In the early 1970s she became a backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder as part of "Wonderlove", lending her vocals on his albums Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life. Williams also guested in 1974 on Syreeta Wright's album Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta as well as Minnie Riperton's Perfect Angel album and a year later on Roberta Flack's Feel Like Makin' Love.[3]

1975–1988[edit]

She left Wonder in 1975 to sign a deal with Columbia Records and Kalimba Productions. Kalimba was a production company started by Maurice White and Charles Stepney. Williams went on to work on her first studio album with both White and Stepney as its producers. Released in 1976 This Is Niecy rose to Nos. 3 and 33 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Billboard 200 charts.[5][6][7] This is Niecy has also been certified Platinum in the United States by the RIAA and silver in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry.[8][9] . An album cut entitled "Free" got to nos. 1, 2 & 25 on the UK Singles, Billboard Hot R&B Songs and Hot 100charts respectively. Another single being "That's What Friends Are For" rose to No. 8 on the UK Singles chart.[10][11][12]

A few months after the release of This Is Niecy, Charles Stepney died. White went on to solely produce Williams' second album, Song Bird, released in 1977. The album rose to No. 23 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart.[13] The single, "Baby, Baby My Love's All For You", reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs and No. 32 UK Singles chart.[12][14]

Williams was included as a vocalist on Roberta Flack's 1977 album, Blue Lights in the Basement,[15] and contributed vocals, along with Maurice White on Weather Report's 1978 album, Mr. Gone.[16][17] She shared a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with pop singer Johnny Mathis in 1978 with the duet "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late". The duet also topped the Black Singles and Adult Contemporary charts. Williams also topped the dance charts with her disco single "I've Got the Next Dance". Mathis and Williams also recorded the popular theme to the 1980s sitcom, Family Ties, "Without Us". Williams moved on to the American Record Corporation (ARC) in the early 1980s where she scored the top twenty R&B smash hit "Silly" in 1981. The following year, yet another famed producer, Thom Bell, helped Williams score another number-one R&B chart-topper with her remake of The Royalettes' "It's Gonna Take a Miracle", which became a Top 10 pop hit as well, reaching No. 10.

During 1983 she released her seventh studio album, I'm So Proud, which got to No. 10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female category.[18][19][2]

Williams released the album Let's Hear It for the Boy in 1984. The title track reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured on the soundtrack to Footloose.

She also performed as a background vocalist on Stevie Wonder's 1985 album, In Square Circle.[20] Williams went on to release her 1986 album, Hot on the Trail, which reached No. 58 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[21][22]

The next year she released her tenth studio album, Water Under the Bridge, which rose to No. 39 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Never Say Never" charted at Nos. 6 and 23 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Dance Club Songs respectively.[23][24][25][26]

A year later she released her follow-up studio album, As Good As It Gets, which rose to No. 48 on the Top R&B Hip-Hop Albums chart. "I Can't Wait" charted at No. 8 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Another single entitled This Is As Good As It Gets rose to No. 29 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[27][28][29][30]

Gospel music[edit]

Although Williams had recorded one inspirational song on almost each of her mainstream albums, it was in 1980 that her musical career path began to change favoring Gospel music. Williams joined with friends Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire fame, Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo to present a gospel show at The Roxy, a popular Los Angeles club: "Jesus at the Roxy". Williams later reported that "God did something miraculous. Over three hundred people were saved."[31]

In 1985, at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards, Williams sang an a cappella version of her 1977 composition "God Is Amazing", a Gospel song, rather than her No. 1 song "Let's Hear It for the Boy", much to her record company's disdain.

During 1986 her first gospel studio album, So Glad I Know, was released on Sparrow Records, and got to No. 8 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart and was nominated for Best Gospel Performance, Female Grammy. "They Say", a duet with Sandi Patti, Williams won the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, Choir or Chorus and for "I Surrender All", she won the Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female.[32][33][34][2]

During 1999 she released another Gospel album, This Is My Song, on Harmony Records. The album rose to No. 14 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart. As well This Is My Song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.[35][36]

2000–present[edit]

Williams went on to release a R&B studio album, Love, Niecy Style, produced by Philly Soul veteran Bobby Eli, in April 2007 on Shanachie Records.[37] Love, Niecy Style rose to No. 41 on the Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart.[38] On October 13, 2007 Williams performed in her hometown of Gary, Indiana at the re-opening of the historic Glen Theater.[39] Williams was thereafter recognized by Indiana State Representative Vernon G. Smith as an Outstanding Hoosier.[40]

During October 2007 Williams went on to issue a song entitled "Grateful: The Rededication" with Wanda Vaughn and Sherree Brown. The single got to No. 40 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart.[41] On April 29, 2008, Williams announced that she was preparing a proposal to establish a program called KOP—Kids of Promise—in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Williams said the program would include a center with classes and programs dedicated to education and the performing arts.[42] On August 27, 2008, a new song, "One Kiss", was posted on YouTube. The song was produced by the Haven Media Group and the video was directed by director Dabling Harward. Also posted on the same date was an inspirational anthem, "A Change We Can Believe In", written by Williams, percussionist Jerry Peters, and songwriter Harvey Mason.[citation needed] On June 27, 2010, Williams performed her song "Silly" at the BET Awards featuring Monica.[citation needed] In January 2011, she performed "Free" on Way Black When: Looking Back at the 1970s on TVOne.

As well in June 2011, Williams was featured on Unsung, TV One's signature music biography series.[43]

Filmography[edit]

Williams went on to appear in the 2003 holiday movie Christmas Child. During December 2005 she appeared on the reality-dating show Elimidate as part of their "Celebrity Week".[40]

Vocal profile[edit]

Deniece Williams has a four-octave range and distinctive soprano voice.[44] Her vocal range was also pointed out by The New York Times, "Miss Williams mounted a spectacular vocal display in which her penetrating, feline soprano soared effortlessly to E flat above high C, and she worked various vowel sounds into prolonged feats of vocal gymnastics."[45] In pointing to Williams's similar vocal ability as her former musical icon and colleague (Minnie Riperton), Mark Anthony Neal, in referencing Jill Scott's agility in displaying vocal acrobatics, states, "Scott draws on her upper register recalling the artistry of the late Minnie Riperton and "songbird" Deniece Williams."[46] According to Monica Haynes of Post-Gazette.com, Williams "has the kind of range that would make Mariah Carey quiver".[47]

Discography[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Williams has received four awards out of twelve nominations.[2]

Year Category Nominated work Result
1983 Best Female R&B Vocal Performance "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" Nominated
1984 I'm So Proud Nominated
1984 Best Inspirational Performance "Whiter Than Snow" Nominated
1985 Best Female Pop Vocal Performance "Let's Hear It for the Boy" Nominated
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
1987 Best Female Gospel Performance "So Glad I Know" Nominated
Best Female Soul Gospel Performance "I Surrender All" Won
Best Duo or Group Gospel Performance "They Say" (with Sandi Patti) Won
1988 Best Female Gospel Performance "I Believe in You" Won
1989 "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Nominated
1990 "Healing" Nominated
Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group "We Sing Praises" (with Natalie Cole) Nominated
1999 Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album This Is My Song Won

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Deniece Williams: My Melody". BBC.co.uk. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Deniece Williams". Grammy.com. 
  3. ^ a b "Deniece Williams". Allmusic.com. 
  4. ^ a b "Deniece Williams Story with Interview". Soulexpress.net. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ "This Is Niecy Bonus Track - Overview". allmusic.com. Retrieved June 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Deniece Williams: This is Niecy (Top R&B Hip Hop Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  7. ^ "Deniece Williams: This is Niecy (Billboard 200)". Billboard.com. 
  8. ^ "Deniece Williams RIAA Cerrtification". riaa.com. 
  9. ^ "BPI Certification for Deniece Williams: This Is Niecy". BPI.co.uk. 
  10. ^ "Deniece Williams: Free (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  11. ^ "Deniece Williams: Free (Hot 100)". Billboard.com. 
  12. ^ a b "Deniece Williams (Singles)". Official Charts.com. 
  13. ^ "Deniece Williams: Songbird (Top R&B Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  14. ^ "Deniece Williams: Baby, Baby My Love's All For You (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  15. ^ "Roberta Flack: Blue Lights In The Basement". Allmusic.com. 
  16. ^ "Weather Report: the life and times of the group on record". Jazz Wise Magazine.com. 
  17. ^ "Weather Report: Mr Gone". Allmusic.com. 
  18. ^ "Deniece Williams: I'm So Proud". Allmusic.com. 
  19. ^ "Deniece Williams: I'm So Proud (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  20. ^ "Stevie Wonder: In Square Circle". Allmusic.com. 
  21. ^ "Deniece Williams: Hot on the Trail". Allmusic.com. 
  22. ^ "Deniece Williams: Hot on the Trail (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  23. ^ "Deniece Williams: Water Under The Bridge". Allmusic.com. 
  24. ^ "Deniece Williams: Water Under The Bridge (Top R&B Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  25. ^ "Deniece Williams: Never Say Never (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  26. ^ "Deniece Williams: Never Say Never (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  27. ^ "Deniece Williams: As Good As It Gets". Allmusic.com. 
  28. ^ "Deniece Williams: As Good As It Gets (Top R&B Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  29. ^ "Deniece Williams: I Can't Wait (Hot R&B Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  30. ^ "Deniece Williams: This Is As Good As It Gets (Hot R&B Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.com. 
  31. ^ As reported in an interview Williams gave to Gospel Today magazine.
  32. ^ "Deniece Williams: So Glad I Know". Allmusic.com. 
  33. ^ "Deniece Williams: So Glad I Know (Top Christian Albums)". Billboard.com. 
  34. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Deniece Williams Preps For Oakland Shows This Weekend, Remembers Collaborations With Mathis, Natalie Cole, and Sandi Patty". Saccculturalhub.com. 
  35. ^ "Deniece Williams: This Is My Song". Allmusic.com. 
  36. ^ "Deniece Williams: This Is My Song (Top Gospel Albums)". Billboard. 
  37. ^ "Deniece Williams: Love, Niecy Style". Allmusic.com. 
  38. ^ "Deniece Williams: Love, Niecy Style (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard.com. 
  39. ^ "Curtain rises on new Glen Theater". nwitimes.com. 
  40. ^ a b "Deniece Williams". IMDB.com. 
  41. ^ "Wanda Vaughn, Deniece Williams & Sherree Brown: Grateful (Adult R&B Songs)". billboard.com. 
  42. ^ [1][dead link]
  43. ^ "Deniece Williams". tvone.tv. 
  44. ^ "Deniece Williams Story with Interview". soulexpress.net. 
  45. ^ Holden, Stephen (October 11, 1982). "Pop-Soul - Deniece Williams in Concert". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Music Reviews, Features, Essays, News, Columns, Blogs, MP3s and Videos | PopMatters". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Music Review: Time just can't stop energized O'Jays train". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

External links[edit]