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Melba Moore

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Melba Moore
Moore in 1999
Beatrice Melba Hill[citation needed] or
Beatrice Melba Smith[1]
(sources differ)

New York City, U.S.
  • Actress[2]
  • singer
Years active1966–present
Charles Huggins
(m. 1974; div. 1991)
Musical career
WebsiteOfficial website

Beatrice Melba Hill[citation needed] or Beatrice Melba Smith[note 1][1] (sources differ),[5][6] known by her stage name Melba Moore, is an American singer and actress.[2]


Early life and education[edit]

Moore was born Beatrice Melba Hill in a Harlem hospital to Beatrice Melba Smith[1] (sources differ) in New York City to Gertrude Melba Smith (1920–1976), who was a singer professionally known as Bonnie Davis and Teddy Hill (1909–1978), a big band leader.[10] Moore grew up in the Harlem section of New York until age nine, when her mother remarried, to jazz pianist Clement Leroy Moorman and the family relocated to Newark, New Jersey. For high school, Moore attended Newark Arts High School,[11][12] graduating in 1958.[7] In 1970, she graduated from Montclair State College with a BA in music.[13][14][15]

Early career[edit]

Moore began her recording career in 1967, cutting the track "Magic Touch", which was left unreleased until 1986. In later years, it became a popular track on the Northern soul scene, eventually leading to Moore performing it live in 2009 at the Baltic Soul Weekender 3 in Germany, north of Hamburg. In 1967, she began her performing career as Dionne in the original cast of the musical Hair, along with Ronnie Dyson, Paul Jabara, and Diane Keaton. Moore replaced Keaton in the role of Sheila.

In 1970, Moore won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Lutiebelle in Purlie, a role she would later reprise in the 1981 television adaptation for Showtime.

Moore did not return to Broadway until 1978, when she appeared (as Marsinah) with Eartha Kitt in Timbuktu! but left the show after a few weeks and was replaced by Vanessa Shaw.

Following the success of Purlie, Moore landed two big-screen film roles, released two successful albums, 1970's I Got Love and Look What You're Doing to the Man, and co-starred with actor Clifton Davis in the then-couple's own successful variety television series in 1972. Both Moore and Davis revealed that the show was canceled after its brief run when their relationship ended. When Moore's managers and accountants left her in 1973, she returned to Newark and began singing at benefit concerts. Her career picked up after she met record manager and business promoter Charles Huggins after a performance at the Apollo Theater in 1974.

Music career[edit]

In 1975, Moore signed with Buddah Records and released the critically successful R&B album Peach Melba, which included the minor hit "I Am His Lady". The following year, she scored her first significant hit with the Van McCoy-penned "This Is It",[16] which reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top-20 position on the R&B chart,[17] and top-10 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming her biggest success in that country.[18] "This is It" also became the number 1 disco track in the UK for that year.[citation needed] It was 18 years later when Australian singer Dannii Minogue covered this song and made it to number 10 on the ARIA chart.

In 1976, she scored her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad "Lean on Me", which had been originally recorded by Vivian Reed and later by Moore's idol Aretha Franklin, who recorded the song as a B-side of her 1971 hit "Spanish Harlem". The song is most notable for Moore's extended long note at the end. In 1983, she re-recorded the song as a tribute to McCoy, who had died four years earlier. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore struggled to match the success of "This Is It" with minor R&B/dance hits. However, her hit 'Pick Me Up, I'll Dance' released in May 1979, produced by McFadden & Whitehead and released on Epic Records, did have considerable UK disco success, reaching UK chart position 48, along with a further hit that same year, also produced by McFadden & Whitehead, with a cover version of the Bee Gees' hit "You Stepped into My Life",[16] which reached the top 20 on the R&B charts and 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.[17]

In 1982, Moore signed with Capitol Records and reached the top 5 on the R&B charts with the dance-pop/funk single "Love's Comin' at Ya",[17] which also hit the top 20 in the UK[18] (on EMI America EA 146) and became a sizable hit in some European countries for its post-disco sound, followed by "Mind Up Tonight", which was another top 40 hit in the UK, reaching position number 22.[18] A string of R&B hits followed, including 1983's "Keepin' My Lover Satisfied" and "Love Me Right", 1984's "Livin' For Your Love", 1985's "Read My Lips"—which later won Moore a third Grammy nomination (for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance),[16] making her just the third black artist after Donna Summer and Michael Jackson to be nominated in the rock category—and 1985's "When You Love Me Like This".

In 1986, she scored two number 1 R&B hits, including the duet "A Little Bit More" with Freddie Jackson and "Falling".[17] She scored other popular R&B hits including "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)" and "It's Been So Long".[17] That same year, Moore also headlined the CBS television sitcom Melba; its debut aired the same night as the Challenger explosion, and the show was abruptly cancelled, though five episodes aired that summer. Her success began to wane as the decade closed, although she managed two further Top 10 R&B hits, "Do You Really (Want My Love)" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing".[17] Moore had a starring role in the 1990 horror film Def by Temptation.

Later career[edit]

Moore returned to Broadway in 1995, landing a part in Les Misérables. A year later, she started her long-running one-woman show, Sweet Songs of the Soul, later renamed I'm Still Standing. In 2003, Moore was featured in the film The Fighting Temptations, which starred Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles. In 2007, she landed a role in a production of Ain't Misbehavin'. In 2009, independent label Breaking Records released the EP Book of Dreams, in which Moore was featured. That same year, Moore told her life story on TV-One's Unsung, and later that year, she released her first R&B album in nearly 20 years, a duet with Phil Perry called The Gift of Love. Her song "Love Is" debuted on the R&B charts in 2011 at number 87.

In 2016, Moore released the album Forever Moore. Moore has continued to tour and perform since then, releasing her album The Day I Turned To You on December 13, 2019 – an album of R&B-inflected gospel music.

In 2021, Moore collaborated with Stone Foundation on the song "Now That You Want Me Back".[citation needed]

In 2022, Moore performed in Washington, D.C., in Roll On, a gospel musical that originally opened with her in 2006.

Personal life[edit]

Moore has been married once and has a daughter.[19] Moore was engaged in a four-year relationship with television star Clifton Davis during the early 1970s.[20] Davis later admitted that the relationship failed due to his drug abuse and mistreatment of Moore.[21] In September 1974, Moore married record manager and business promoter Charles Huggins. Moore and Huggins divorced after 17 years of marriage in 1991.[22] In 1999, Huggins filed suit against Moore, claiming that she had publicly defamed him by stating that he abused her economically.[23][24]

Moore has described herself as a "born-again Catholic".[25]


In addition to her Tony Award, Moore's music career brought additional accolades. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1971 for 'Best New Artist'.[16] In 1976, she earned another Grammy nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Female for the song "Lean on Me".[26] Moore was also nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1986 for "Read My Lips".[16] Moore is also the 2012 Recipient of the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival Theatre Legend Award. Moore was inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame on October 4, 2015, in Detroit.

Moore received the 2015 Sandy Hosey Lifetime Achievement Award during the Artists Music Guild's 2015 AMG Heritage Awards broadcast held on November 14, 2015, in North Carolina.[27]

On August 10, 2023, Moore received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame within the Live Theatre/Live Performance category, with special thanks to Katt Williams.[28]

Stage work[edit]




Year Album Chart positions
1970 I Got Love
  • Released: June 9, 1970
  • Label: Mercury
1971 Look What You're Doing to the Man
  • Released: January 29, 1971
  • Label: Mercury
157 43
1972 Melba Moore Live!
  • Released: July 21, 1972
  • Label: Mercury
1975 Peach Melba
  • Released: June 10, 1975
  • Label: Buddah
176 49
1976 This Is It
  • Released: April 13, 1976
  • Label: Buddah
145 32
1976 Melba '76
  • Released: December 2, 1976
  • Label: Buddah
177 30
1977 A Portrait of Melba
  • Released: November 6, 1977
  • Label: Buddah
1978 Melba '78
  • Released: September 29, 1978
  • Label: Epic
114 35
1979 Burn
  • Released: September 21, 1979
  • Label: Epic
1980 Closer
  • Released: July 20, 1980
  • Label: Epic
1981 What a Woman Needs 201 46
1982 The Other Side of the Rainbow
  • Released: October 10, 1982
  • Label: Capitol
152 18
1983 Never Say Never
  • Released: November 14, 1983
  • Label: Capitol
147 9
1985 Read My Lips
  • Released: March 22, 1985
  • Label: Capitol
130 30
1986 A Lot of Love
  • Released: July 18, 1986
  • Label: Capitol
91 7
1988 I'm in Love
  • Released: June 1, 1988
  • Label: Capitol
1990 Soul Exposed
  • Released: March 26, 1990
  • Label: Orpheus / Capitol
1996 Happy Together (with The Lafayette Harris, Jr. Trio)
  • Released: June 18, 1996
  • Label: Muse
1999 Solitary Journey
  • Released: February 23, 1999
  • Label: Encore Music Group
2001 A Very Special Christmas Gift
  • Released: October 23, 2001
  • Label: Believe Music Works / Lightyear
2002 A Night in St. Lucia
  • Released: June 25, 2002
  • Label: Image
2003 I'm Still Here
  • Released: February 25, 2003
  • Label: Shout Glory
2004 Nobody but Jesus
  • Released: August 31, 2004
  • Label: Believe Music Works / Lightyear
2007 Live in Concert
  • Released: August 7, 2007
  • Label: Soul Concerts
2009 The Gift of Love (with Phil Perry)
  • Released: September 29, 2009
  • Label: Shanachie
2016 Forever Moore
  • Released: April 10, 2016
  • Label: Muzikk Matrixx
2019 The Day I Turned to You
  • Released: December 13, 2019
  • Label: Hitman Records
2022 Imagine
  • Released: April 29, 2022
  • Label: The Gallery Entertainment / Orpheus Enterprises
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Album
1979 Dancin' with Melba
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Buddah
1995 This Is It: The Best of Melba Moore
1997 The Magic of Melba Moore (A Little Bit Moore)
  • Released: January 28, 1997
  • Label: EMI


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US Dance
1966 "Don't Cry Sing Along with the Music"
b/w "Does Love Believe in Me"
Non-album tracks
1969 "I Messed Up a Good Thing"
b/w "I'll Do It All Over Again" (Non-album track)
Living to Give
"We're Living to Give (To Give to Each Other)"
b/w "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sun Shine In)"
1970 "Black Enough"
b/w "My Salvation"
Cotton Comes to Harlem various artists soundtrack
"Time and Love"
b/w "Facade"
Living to Give
"I Got Love"
b/w "I Love Making Love to You" (from Living to Give)
111 I Got Love
"We're Living to Give (To Give to Each Other)"
b/w "Purlie" (from I Got Love)
Living to Give
"Look What You're Doing to the Man"
b/w "Patience Is Rewarded"
Look What You're Doing to the Man
1971 "Loving You Comes So Easy"
b/w "If I Had a Million"
"Take Up a Course in Happiness"
b/w "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (from Look What You're Doing to the Man)
Non-album tracks
1972 "I Ain't Got to Love Nobody Else"
b/w "Love Letters"
1975 "I Am His Lady"
b/w "If I Lose"
82 Peach Melba
"Must Be Dues"
b/w "Natural Part of Everything"
1976 "This Is It"
b/w "Stay Awhile"
91 18 10 9 This Is It
"Lean on Me"
b/w "One Less Morning"
"Free" 14 Dancin' with Melba
"Make Me Believe in You" 6
"Play Boy Scout" 14
1977 "Good Love Makes Everything Alright" 36 Melba (Buddah)
"The Long and Winding Road"
b/w "Ain't No Love Lost"
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
b/w "So Many Mountains"
108 62
"The Greatest Feeling"
b/w "The Long and Winding Road"
UK release only
1978 "Standing Right Here"
b/w "Living Free"
69 53 A Portrait of Melba
"I Don't Know No One Else to Turn To"
b/w "Just Another Link"
"You Stepped into My Life"
b/w "There's No Other Like You"
47 17 5 Melba (Epic)
1979 "Pick Me Up, I'll Dance"
b/w "Where Did You Ever Go"
103 85 22 48
"Miss Thing"
b/w "Need Love"
90 41 Burn
"Night People"
b/w "Hot and Tasty"
1980 "Everything So Good About You"
b/w "Next to You"
47 Closer
1981 "Take My Love" 1
b/w "Just You, Just Me" (Non-album track)
15 12 What a Woman Needs
"Let's Stand Together" 1
b/w "What a Woman Needs"
1982 "Love's Comin' at Ya"
b/w Instrumental version of A-side (Non-album track)
104 5 2 15 The Other Side of the Rainbow
1983 "Mind Up Tonight"
b/w Instrumental version of A-side (Non-album track)
25 17 22
b/w "Underlove" (M&M mix, non-album track)
35 42 60
"Keepin' My Lover Satisfied"
b/w Instrumental version of A-side (Non-album track)
14 57 Never Say Never
1984 "Livin' for Your Love"
b/w "Got to Have Your Love" (Instrumental version, non-album track)
108 6
"Love Me Right"
b/w "Never Say Never"
1985 "I Can't Believe (It's Over)"
b/w "King of My Heart"
29 Read My Lips
"Read My Lips"
b/w "Got to Have Your Love" (from Never Say Never)
104 12
"When You Love Me Like This"
b/w "Winner" (Edited instrumental, non-album track)
106 14
1986 "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)" (with Kashif)
b/w "Don't Go Away"
5 A Lot of Love
"A Little Bit More" (with Freddie Jackson)
b/w "When We Touch (It's Like Fire)"
1 96
b/w "Got to Have Your Love" (from Never Say Never)
1987 "I'm Not Gonna Let You Go"
b/w "Dreams"
"It's Been So Long"
b/w "Don't Go Away"
1988 "I Can't Complain" (with Freddie Jackson)
b/w "There I Go Falling In Love Again" (from A Lot of Love)
12 I'm in Love
"I'm in Love" (with Kashif)
b/w "Stay" (from A Lot of Love)
"Love & Kisses"
b/w "I'm in Love" (Summertime Shorts version, with Kashif—non-album track)
1990 "Do You Really (Want My Love?)"
12" single with four different mixes
Only the original version appears on the album
10 39 93 Soul Exposed
"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing"
b/w Same song with narration by Rev. Jesse Jackson (Non-album track)
1998 "Everybody"
CD single with five different mixes
Solitary Journey (Featuring three of the five mixes)
2005 "My Heart Belongs to You"
12" single with three different mixes
Non-album tracks
2011 "Love Is" 87
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.
  • ^1 "Let's Stand Together" and "Take My Love" charted together on the US Billboard Dance chart, but charted separately elsewhere.


  1. ^ There are conflicting sources regarding her birth year. Many claim 1945.[1][5][6] However, some sources (including the web pages of the high school she went to) say she graduated in 1958, which imply an earlier birth year.[7][8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Melba Moore Biography". Thehistorymakers.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2010.
  2. ^ a b McCann, Bob (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. University of California. p. 237. ISBN 9780786437900.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link).
  3. ^ White, Adam, and Fred Bronson (1993). The Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. Billboard Books, 1993; ISBN 9780823082858.
  4. ^ "Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits". Jet. 107: 36. May 16, 2005.
  5. ^ a b Windsor, Carl D. (2006). On This Day: Daily Inspiration for the History Buff, the Trivia Lover, and the Innately Curious. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416545811. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Berry, S. Torriano; Venise T. Berry (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 306. ISBN 9781442247024. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "The Newark Public Schools Historical Preservation Committee MISSION" (PDF). Npshpc.org. Retrieved May 31, 2023.
  8. ^ Gallotto, Tony (September 11, 2023). "Newark Dedicates Street Outside Arts High School to Iconic Singer Melba Moore". Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  9. ^ "Famous Arts High School Alumni". Newark Board of Education. Retrieved December 29, 2023.
  10. ^ "Happy Birthday Melba Moore". DJAlexGutierrez.com. October 29, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  11. ^ Fair-Brown, Norma. "Principal's Message". Archived from the original on April 19, 2008.
  12. ^ Corbett, Nic (September 23, 2011). "70s singer Melba Moore returns to Newark Arts High School for first time since graduating decades earlier". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  13. ^ "Melba Moore '70 - Forever Moore". Montclair.edu.
  14. ^ "Melba Moore '70". Montclair.edu. May 24, 2016.
  15. ^ "College of the Arts to Present 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award to Melba Moore '70". Montclair.edu. April 26, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c d e Kellman, Andy. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Melba Moore - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  18. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 377. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  19. ^ "Melba Moore: Nurturing a Career and a Baby Girl on the Road". The New York Times. February 13, 1978.
  20. ^ "Melba Moore is back!". The Show Biz Wizard. April 27, 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  21. ^ Hall, Jane (December 15, 1986). "A New Hit on TV, Ex-Addict Clifton Davis Can Say Amen to His Past". People Magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  22. ^ Moore, Melba. "Huggins divorces Moore". MTV. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  23. ^ Huggins, Charles (December 20, 1999). "Huggins files suit against Moore for Defamation". Cornell. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  24. ^ Martin, Michel (September 21, 2009). "Songstress Melba Moore Is Back From Hiatus, Tells Of Hardship". NPR.org. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  25. ^ Shapiro, Eileen (9 December 2019). "Melba Moore 'The Day I Turned to You' | Get Out! Magazine - NYC's Gay Magazine". Retrieved 2022-07-03.
  26. ^ "The Envelope - Awards and Industry Insiderlatimes.com". Theenvelope.latimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  27. ^ 2015 AMG Heritage Awards. "Melba Moore takes home honors at the 2015 AMG Heritage Awards". Artists Music Guild. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ "Melba Moore". 10 August 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]