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Táta Vega

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Táta Vega
Birth nameCarmen Rosa Vega
Born (1951-10-07) October 7, 1951 (age 72)
Jamaica, Queens, New York
GenresR&B, contemporary gospel
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1969–present
LabelsTamla, Qwest, Prophesy

Táta Vega (born Carmen Rosa Vega,[1] October 7, 1951) is an American vocalist,[2] whose career spans theater, film, and a variety of musical genres.

Early life[edit]

Vega was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York and raised between New York, Chicago, Texas, Panama and Puerto Rico.[2] She is of African-Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Spanish descent.[3][4] Her parents are Luis Alfredo De La Vega, who served in the United States Air Force, and Rosaura Maltés. As a result of her father's work, the family moved frequently. Before she was even a teenager, the family lived in Panama, Puerto Rico, San Antonio, Texas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Her father nicknamed her Táta, because that was the first word she uttered as a child.[5] At the age of 17, she had her name legally changed.[6]


Vega began her professional singing career in 1963. In California (1969–70) she was cast in the Los Angeles, California production of the Broadway musical, Hair.[5] From there went on to join the group Pollution (managed by Max Baer Jr.), led by Dobie Gray[2] (who also appeared in the Los Angeles cast of Hair). While performing in another group with vocalists Brie Brandt and Laurie Ann Bell at the Troubadour, Berry Gordy was in the audience and signed them on the spot. As Earthquire, the group released a self-titled album produced by Tom Wilson in 1972 on Motown's Natural Resources label.[2] After the album failed to make a commercial impact, Motown dropped the group, but retained her.[2][6]

After the demise of Earthquire, Vega continued to work steadily in Top 40 bands and occasionally with some former members of Pollution. After hearing her voice on a demo for Jobete, Motown's publishing wing, producer Winston Monseque and Motown executive Iris Gordy, were interested in managing her.

Vega went on to release four solo albums on the Tamla record label: Full Speed Ahead (1976), Totally Táta (1977), Try My Love (1978), and Givin' All My Love (1981).[2]

She is probably best remembered in the UK for her 1979 release, "Get It Up for Love",[2] from the album, Try My Love written by Ned Doheny. This was released a year later than the LP on 12" format (Motown 12 TMG 1140) as well as 45 RPM. It proved to be popular in the discos in the late 1970s in the UK.

She has had an active career as a lead backing vocalist, working with Russ Taff, Stevie Wonder,[2] Andraé Crouch, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles and Madonna, singing duets with Lou Rawls,[2] Jermaine Jackson, Peter Rivera with Rare Earth and Michael Sembello. Vega is featured on the 2010 Elton John and Leon Russell CD The Union. She also worked in film, performing the voice of Shug Avery in The Color Purple;[2] she is featured on four songs on the 1986 soundtrack album, one of which, "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)", was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Song category. Táta still remains uncredited for her contribution to writing some of the lyrics to 'Maybe God Is Trying To Tell You Something (Speak Lord)' for the film.

In 1985, Vega was nominated for Best Soul female Gospel Performance at the 27th annual Grammy Awards For her vocals on "Oh, It is Jesus", written by Andrae Crouch.

In 1994, she recorded two Spanish versions of the song "Circle of Life" from Disney's The Lion King, one for Latin America ("Ciclo Sin Fin") and the other one for Spain ("El ciclo de la vida").

In 1998, she signed with Quincy Jones' Qwest Records and released a gospel album, Now I See, which was nominated for a Stellar award.

In 2006, Vega signed with Do Rite Records, releasing a gospel album entitled This Joy on October 27, 2009.[7]

Vega with Elton John and other singers

In 2010 Tata joined Elton John's band as a full-time backing vocalist along with Rose Stone, Lisa Stone and Jean Johnson Witherspoon.

In 2011, her first two solo albums, Full Speed Ahead and Totally Táta (1977), were reissued on CD by soulmusic.com records.[6]

On January 18, 2013, Vega, alongside Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and Judith Hill, premiered 20 Feet from Stardom, a documentary about background singers, at Robert Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival.[8]

On February 18, 2014, in the wake of 20 Feet from Stardom's success, her solo albums at Motown were released digitally.[9]

Táta’s music has been sampled by Daft Punk and rappers: Eminem, Drake (musician) and Jim Jones (rapper). Teena Marie credited both Táta and Iris Gordy for publishing one of her first songs on Táta’s debut album in 1976. Teena and Táta reconnected through her longtime manager, Lee Cadena, in the late 2000s and were in talks of forming a supergroup with Shirley Murdock shortly before Teena’s tragic passing.

Personal life[edit]

In 1975, while departing from a gas station in West Adams, Los Angeles, en route to a writing session with Carmen Twilie, Vega was shot in the back of the head by a young sniper on a shooting spree positioned atop a nearby building. Following the incident, Vega remarkably walked to a hospital located adjacent to the gas station.

Vega has two daughters, Angelica, Chloé and step son, Jeffrey. Táta was married to fellow musician Jeffery Vanderplate whom she met at Andraé Crouch’ home. Vanderplate is credited working with Sly Stone from the legendary group Sly and The Family Stone, Bobby Womack, Andraé Crouch and others. He later owned a Winery and Brewery in Northern, CA. He was close with Billy Preston. He died in 2004 from small cell lung cancer.

Chloé’s Godmother is long time collaborator, Rose Stone from Sly and The Family Stone and her Godfather was legendary gospel music pioneer and songwriter, Andraé Crouch.[10]


As group member[edit]

  • 1971: Pollution; Pollution (Prophesy Records)
  • 1972: Pollution; Pollution II (Prophesy)
  • 1972: Earthquire; Earthquire (Natural Resources/Motown)

Solo albums[edit]

  • 1976: Full Speed Ahead, Hollywood, Calif.: Tamla Motown, OCLC 33057917
  • 1977: Totally Táta, Hollywood, Calif.: (Tamla Motown), OCLC 33057752
  • 1978: Try My Love, Hollywood, Calif.: Tamla Motown, OCLC 6634273
  • 1980: Givin' All My Love (Tamla Motown)
  • 1988: Time's So Right
  • 1998: Now I See, Burbank, CA: (Qwest Records), OCLC 40485132
  • 2009: This Joy (Do Rite Records)

Appearances on other albums[edit]


Year Film Role
2013 20 Feet from Stardom Herself


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 584. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 283/4. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  3. ^ "Twenty Feet from Stardom: The World of Backup Singers". Kqed.org. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  4. ^ "The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter 2 - Kirk Whalum | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-07-10.
  5. ^ a b Abbey, John (November 1976). "Tata Vega:Tata for Now". SoulMusic.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-05. Tata was actually christened Carmen Rosa Vega when she was born back on October 7, 1951, in Queens, Long Island. It was her father who dubbed her Tata because they were the first words she learned to utter as a baby.
  6. ^ a b c Nathan, David (2011). Full Speed Ahead (Media notes). Táta Vega.
  7. ^ "Do Rite Records". Do Rite Records. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
  8. ^ Peter Debruge, "Review: ‘Twenty Feet From Stardom’", Variety, January 18, 2013.
  9. ^ "Tata Vega Reissues Get Digital Release in the US". United States: Universal Music. February 11, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
  10. ^ Brian Israel. "Connection Magazine, The Premier Good News Publication". Connectionmagazine.org. Retrieved 2014-08-06.

External links[edit]