Little Sister (band)
Little Sister in 1970
Little Sister was an American all-female vocal harmony group, which served primarily as the background vocalists for the influential rock/funk band Sly and the Family Stone in concert and on record. Originally a gospel music group called The Heavenly Tones, Little Sister was composed of Vet Stewart (Family Stone frontman Sly Stone's little sister), Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton, and became a recording act of its own for a brief period in 1970-1971.
While still in high school, Vaetta Stewart and her friends Mary McCreary, Elva Mouton and Tramaine Hawkins had a gospel group called The Heavenly Tones and performed at various venues around the Oakland/San Francisco area. In 1966 they recorded the album "I Love The Lord" for the Gopsel label, and a 45 for the Music City label called "He's Alright" When Vaetta's older brother Sylvester aka Sly Stone formed Sly and the Family Stone with their brother Freddie, and friends Larry Graham, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini, and Greg Errico, the Heavenly Tones were recruited directly out of high school to become Little Sister, Sly & the Family Stone's background vocalists for their recording. Tramaine Hawkins left the group and started a very successful solo career.
The group performed background vocals on a number of the Family Stone's biggest early hits, including "Everyday People" and "Stand!". Besides Little Sister's background vocals, Sly, Freddie, Larry Graham, and middle sister Rose Stone were heard singing backgrounds on the tracks as well.
During the interim period between the releases of the Family Stone albums Stand! and There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly Stone negotiated a production deal with Atlantic Records, resulting in his own imprint, Stone Flower. Stone Flower released four singles, including one by R&B artist Joe Hicks, one by 6IX, and two by Little Sister: "You're The One" and "Somebody's Watching You", a cover of a song from Stand!. The Little Sister version of "Somebody's Watching You" was the first major record to have a rhythm track created with a drum machine.
- "You're the One", part 1/"You're The One, part 2" made it to #4 R&B and #22 pop (2/28/70),
- "Somebody's Watching You"/"Stanga" made it to #8 R&B and #32 pop (11/28/70),
Eventually, Sly ceased production of further Little Sister recordings, and Little Sister were relegated to background vocal work for the rest of its existence. Atlantic flipped the 2nd single over and reserviced it and it charted, as well;
- "Stanga"/"Somebody's Watching You" made it to #44 R&B but did not chart again on the pop chart (2/19/72).
During the post-1971 period of Sly & the Family Stone, Mary McCreary left the group and began a solo career. She also married singer-songwriter Leon Russell and with him recorded Wedding Album in 1976. She was replaced by Lucy Hambrick. Little Sister continue to do the background vocals and was also included in the live band of Sly & The Family Stone.Little Sister was dissolved when the Family Stone did, in 1975, after the band's fortunes slowly fell due to Sly Stone's drug abuse problems.
- Vet Stewart
- Elva "Tiny" Mouton
- Mary McCreary(replaced in 1972 by Lucy Hambrick)
- 1966: "I Love The Lord" (Gospel) (The Heavenly Tones)
- 1966: "He's Alright" b/w "Precious Lord" (Music City) (The Heavenly Tones)
- 1970: "You're The One [Part 1]" b/w "You're The One [Part 2]" (Stoneflower) (US #22, R&B #4)
- 1970: "Somebody's Watching You" b/w "Stanga" (Stoneflower) (US #32, R&B #8)
- 1972: "Stanga" b/w "Stanga" (radio promo release only)(Stoneflower) (US #44 R&B)