Sharon Redd

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Sharon Redd
Redd in 1988
Redd in 1988
Background information
Born(1945-10-19)October 19, 1945
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
OriginNew York City, U.S.
DiedMay 1, 1992(1992-05-01) (aged 46)
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1967–1992

Sharon Redd (October 19, 1945 – May 1, 1992)[2][3] was an American singer from New York City. She was the half sister of Snap! singer Penny Ford.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Redd was born on October 19, 1945, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Gene and Katherine Redd. Gene Redd was a producer and musical director at King Records, and her stepfather performed with Benny Goodman's orchestra.[1] Her brother Gene Redd Jr. was a songwriter and producer for Kool & the Gang and the band BMP.[5] Her half-sister Penny Ford is also a singer with two solo albums to her credit and known for her work as the main singer for Snap!, Soul II Soul, and the S.O.S. Band.[2]

She began her recording career with four singles in 1968 for the United Artists label, three written and all four produced by songwriter and record producer Bobby Susser. Susser chose the Hank Williams song "Half as Much" to be Redd's first single. Redd's vocals, against Susser's heavy-bass track, made her presence very quickly known to R&B radio stations.[6] Redd, as a budding actress, got a major break when she starred in an Australian production of the rock musical Hair.[1] She was among a troupe of young African American imports to the Sydney production, a group which notably included Marcia Hines. Redd appeared in the production from its June 6, 1969, premiere through 1971.[citation needed]

As Redd was becoming famous in Australia, she was interviewed by Barry Sloane on a 1971 episode of GTK.[citation needed] Her popular adverts for Amoco led to her own television special. Redd and Hair co-star Teddy Williams were asked to leave Australia by the Immigration Department in April 1971 for reasons they believed were race-motivated.[7][8] Aside from Hair, Redd also appeared in Ti-Jean and His Brothers and, in 1974, traveled to London to star in an American production of The Wedding of Iphigenia.[1] In 1977 Redd played the role of Sherrye in the U.S. sitcom television series Rhoda.[9][10] 1978 also saw Redd feature as a guest in the musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[11]

In the mid-1970s, Bette Midler was looking to replace Merle Miller and Gail Kantor, both of whom had left after Midler's 1973 tour to pursue their own interests. Midler auditioned over 70 performers, but Redd landed the job, becoming one of Bette's Harlettes.[12] Aside from performing as a Harlette, Redd also provided backing vocals for Carol Douglas ("Burnin'" and "Night Fever") and Norman Connors ("You Are My Starship").[1] Having ended their association with Midler, Redd, Charlotte Crossley, & Ula Hedwig released an LP, Formerly of the Harlettes, in late 1977. In 1978, RCA Victor released "Love Insurance" on a 12-inch disco as Front Page with Sharon Redd. She was credited on that version.

In 1979, Redd recorded the disco hit "Love Insurance", released by Panorama Records under the name Front Page, her own vocals going uncredited. But she soon signed a recording contract with Prelude Records,[1] and Redd became the label's most successful artist. Her debut studio album, 1980's self-titled Sharon Redd, was closely followed by two more: Redd Hott (1982) and Love How You Feel (1983).[1] Redd had several charting songs on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, including "Beat the Street", "In the Name of Love" and "Love How You Feel".[13]

After these releases, Redd returned to her successful career as a backing vocalist, most notably with the group Soirée, which also included among its members Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown.

In early 1992, she had a UK top 20 hit with a re-recorded version of "Can You Handle It", with "Tom's Diner" remixers DNA and appeared with the duo, singing live vocals, on BBC One's Top of the Pops on January 30.[14] Following the success of this new version of "Can You Handle It", she recorded a single entitled "All the Way to Love",[2] with L.A. Mix's Les Adams. This was to be her last solo recording and remains unreleased.

In the midst of mounting a comeback in the early 1990s, Redd died of pneumonia on May 1, 1992. Dance Music Report magazine reported that her death was AIDS-related.[15] The virus had weakened her immune system, which had become ineffective following the singer stepping on broken glass on stage.

In 1993, Redd's vocals featured on the duet track "Under Pressure", as found on her half-sister Penny Ford's self-titled album.


Despite not being as recognized as other stars, Redd was able to establish herself as a Diva on the disco scene in the late 70s and early 80s.[16] Redd was honored by the National AIDS Memorial, in an online exhibit to commemorate Black History Month along with other celebrities like Sylvester and Arthur Ashe.[17]



Year Album Label Format Peak chart positions
US Dance
1980 Sharon Redd Prelude LP, CD
1982 Redd Hott 1 59
1983 Love How You Feel
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


  • The Classic Redd (Prelude, 1985)
  • Beat the Street: The Best of Sharon Redd (Unidisc, 1989)
  • The Complete Sharon Redd on Prelude 1980–1985 (Karamel, 1990)
  • Essential Dancefloor Artists Vol. 3: Sharon Redd (Deepbeats, 1994)[3]


Year Single Peak chart positions
US Dance
1967 "Half as Much"
1968 "I've Got a Feeling"
1969 "Easy to Be Hard" 32
1980 "Can You Handle It" 5 57 31
"Love Is Gonna Get Ya"
1981 "You Got My Love"
1982 "Never Give You Up" ‡ 1 20
"Beat the Street" ‡ 41
"In the Name of Love" ‡ 31 11
"Takin' a Chance on Love" ‡ 91
1983 "Love How You Feel" 16 39
"You're a Winner" 83
"Liar on the Wire" 33
1985 "Undercover Girl"
1988 "Second to None"
1992 "Can You Handle It" (DNA's re-recording) 17 62 41
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

‡ Denotes tracks from US Dance-charting LP Redd Hot which included all cuts.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kellman, Andy. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved December 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Sharon Redd Page". Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 454. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ "Snap! with Penny Ford official website". Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  5. ^ "Sharon Redd". Baltimore Afro-American. February 14, 1981. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  6. ^ Billboard Magazine. October 1969.
  7. ^ "Two blacks from 'Hair' get boot from Australia". The Miami News. April 9, 1971. Retrieved September 6, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "'Hair' players await visas". Sydney Morning Herald. April 30, 1971. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  9. ^ "To Vegas with Love". Rhoda. Season 3. Episode 24. March 13, 1977. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
  10. ^ "Johnny's Solo Flight". Rhoda. Season 4. Episode 9. December 11, 1977. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011.
  11. ^ "Sharon Redd - IMDb". May 1, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  12. ^ "Sharon Redd". The Staggering Harlettes. October 19, 1945. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Sharon Redd Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  14. ^ "Top of the Pops". BBC. January 30, 1992. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  15. ^ Andyboy (May 22, 1992). "The First Cut". DMR. 15 (9): 3. The impact of AIDS on the dance music industry has been felt by many on an excruciatingly personal level. News this week of Prelude artist Sharon Redd's recent death due to AIDS once again brought reality into chillingly clear focus.
  16. ^ "Sharon Redd – 20 Years On…". June 9, 2023.
  17. ^ "Black lives lost to AIDS commemorated in heartbreaking virtual exhibition". June 9, 2023.
  18. ^ a b "SHARON REDD - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  19. ^ "Discografie Sharon Redd". (in Dutch). Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  20. ^ "Discography Sharon Redd". Retrieved January 20, 2022.

External links[edit]