Pearly Gates (singer)

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Pearly Gates
Background information
Birth name Viola Billups
Born (1946-07-04) July 4, 1946 (age 70)
Origin Alabama, United States
Genres Dance-pop, soul
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1960s - present
Labels Polydor Records, RCA Records, Bronze Records, Funkin' Marvellous, Nightmare, Centre City Records
Associated acts The Flirtations

Viola Billups, better known by her stage name Pearly Gates is an American soul singer and member of girl group The Flirtations.


Billups was born in Alabama in 1946. She joined The Flirtations with sisters Earnestine Pearce and Betty Pearce in 1964 and moved with the group to London, England in 1968 where their music was popular. Pearly left the group in 1973 and released her first single "Sad Old Shadow", written by Lynsey De Paul and Don Gould on Polydor Records under the name Vie.[1] She did not adapt her artist name Pearly Gates before her second single "Johnny and the Jukebox" in 1974. Several more singles followed in the late 70s on RCA Records and Bronze Records and she remained a popular artist on TV, being a regular performer on the Cliff Richard show [1]. In 1979, she completed her first album Fading Into the Night with producer Ian Levine, although the album was supposed to have been released by American singer Cobie Jones who ultimately didn't make it to the sessions. The album, however, became a victim of the disco backlash and wasn't released until 16 years later.Video on YouTube

In 1985, she enjoyed a huge Hi-NRG hit with the song "Action" on YouTube and also toured with Madeline Bell and Katie Kissoon, performing with James Last Orchestra. Two of her unreleased disco tracks were released on 12" singles in Levine's Nightmare Gold series in 1987. In 1995, Levine recorded six new tracks with her (including a remake of "Action" and released them along with her lost 1979 album on the CD The Best of Pearly Gates on YouTube. The video of "Action" featured the winner of The Late, Late Breakfast's Mr.Poseur: Dennis Brody. Pearly continues to perform regularly with The Flirtations who remain popular on the Northern Soul scene. She also ran her own management company, Viemanagement, working with boy band Dyyce and singer Anousha. In 2007 she recorded four new tracks - two solo and two with The Flirtations - for Ian Levine's Centre City Records releases Northern Soul 2007 and Disco 2008. 2008 saw her record two retro-style tracks with Scandinavian label Night Dance Records [2], eventually evolving into a full album project On a Winning Streak, released March 11, 2010, a 20-track compilation of new recordings, including her 2009 single "Roulette" by The Flirtations; her 3 recordings for Centre City Records; 4 previously unreleased 1977 recordings, produced by H. B. Barnum; and a Barry Gibb song, "Broken Bottles", written by the Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb, the song was originally recorded as a demo for Dionne Warwick for her 1982 album Heartbreaker but was not used. The package also included a 12-track DVD. One of the tracks "Stop for Love" was premièred on YouTube, late October 2009, featuring straight icon Zeb Atlas and gay icon Dave 'Muscles' Jenkins as the singer's love interest - a video that attracted a 100,000 views over the next six months. Video on YouTube


  • "The Best of Pearly Gates" (Hot Productions, 1995)
  • "On a Winning Streak" (Night Dance Records, 2010)


  • "Sad Old Shadow" / "Stay" (as Vie - Polydor, 1973)
  • "Johnny and the Jukebox" / "They Were Good Times" (Polydor, 1974)
  • "Make It My Business to Get You Boy" / You're the One for Me" (RCA, 1975)
  • "Burning Love" (Bronze, 1978)
  • "Fandango Dancing" / "Dancing on a Dream" (Bronze, 1979)
  • "Action" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1985)
  • "Sweet (Like Honey To a Bee)" / "Action" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1985)
  • "Third Time Lucky" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1986)
  • "No Two Ways About It" (Nightmare Gold, 1987)
  • "Fading Into the Night" (Nightmare Gold, 1987)
  • "One Less Bell to Answer" / "The Race Is On" (Nightmare Records, 1989)
  • "One Time Too Many" / "Stop for Love" (Night Dance Records, 2009)


External links[edit]