The Chantels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chantels
OriginThe Bronx, New York, United States
GenresPop, doo wop, rock and roll
Years active1957–1970, 1999-present
MembersSonia Goring Wilson
Renée Minus White
Lois Harris Powell
  • Naomi White Randolph
Past membersArlene Smith
Jackie Landry Jackson
Annette Smith
Sandra Dawn
Helen Liebowitz Powell
Yvonne Fair
  • Ami Ortiz

The Chantels are a pop music group and are the third African-American girl group to enjoy nationwide success in the United States, preceded by The Teen Queens and The Bobbettes. The group was established in the early 1950s by students attending St. Anthony of Padua Church and school in the Bronx.[1]

The original five members consisted of Arlene Smith (lead) (October 5, 1941), Sonia Goring Wilson (born Millicent Goring) (1940), Renée Minus White (1943), Jackie Landry Jackson (May 22, 1941 – December 23, 1997) and Lois Harris (1940). They derived their name from that of Jane Frances de Chantal.


In 1957 the Chantels, then in high school, had been singing as a group for several years. Unlike some Black groups whose influences were based in gospel, the quintet was influenced by classical music and Latin hymns.[2] Lead singer Arlene Smith had received classical training and performed at Carnegie Hall at age 12.[2] She provided both lyrics and music.[2] The girls were discovered by Richard Barrett, lead singer of the Valentines, and by the summer of 1957 they were signed to End Records, owned by George Goldner.[2] Their first single was "He's Gone" (Pop #71) in August 1957, written by Arlene Smith.[2] Released in December 1957, their second single, "Maybe," was a hit (#15 Billboard Hot 100; #2 R&B chart) in January 1958. It sold over a million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[3] The following releases were less successful but End did release an album originally titled We Are the Chantels. The original cover had a photo of the group. That album was soon withdrawn and repackaged with a picture of two white teenagers picking out a song; the title was shortened to The Chantels.[4]

The group was dropped by End in 1959, and Arlene Smith embarked upon a solo career. Harris left to pursue a college education. That year Chantels singles led by Richard Barrett were released on the End subsidiary label, Gone.[5] In 1960 Annette Smith (no relation to Arlene) replaced Arlene Smith. As a quartet, the group moved to Carlton Records, where they had their second huge hit with "Look in My Eyes" (#14 pop, #6 R&B). Other releases on Carlton didn't do as well. One song was "Well I Told You," a response to the Ray Charles song "Hit the Road, Jack which stalled at #29 pop.[2] A Carlton album was released in 1962 titled The Chantels on Tour but featured no live recordings and only seven tracks were recorded by the actual group. The other three tracks were by Gus Backus, Chris Montez and Little Anthony & the Imperials.[6][7] To cash in on "Look in My Eyes", End threw together an album titled There's Our Song Again, a compilation of previously recorded material.[4]

The Chantels switched record labels a few more times. Although personnel changed throughout the 1960s, the constants in the group were Jackie Landry, Sonia Goring and Renee Minus. This line-up, plus Arlene Smith, recorded a one-off single for RCA in 1970. Smith fronted a new group called Chantels in the 1970s which featured up-and-coming disco diva Carol Douglas and former Gems vocalist Louise Bethune (who would also become a 1970s performing member of the Crystals). Smith continued to perform solo. In 1995 the remaining original Chantels reformed as well and hired Noemi (Ami) Ortiz as their lead singer. On the PBS special Doo Wop 50, Smith reunited with the surviving original members of the Chantels and dedicated "Maybe" to Jackie Landry, who died in 1997.

The Chantels were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.[8] In 2001 and 2009 they made the final ballot for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[9][10] but without enough votes for induction.



  • We Are the Chantels (End Records, 1958)
  • There's Our Song Again (End Records, 1961)
  • The Chantels on Tour (Carlton Records, 1962)


Year Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Peak chart positions Album
1957 "He's Gone"
b/w "The Plea"
71 We Are the Chantels
1958 "Maybe"
b/w "Come My Little Baby"
15 2
"Every Night (I Pray)"
b/w "Whoever You Are"
39 16
"I Love You So"
b/w "How Could You Call It Off" (Non-album track)
42 12
"If You Try"
b/w "Congratulations"
b/w "Sure of Love" (from We Are the Chantels)
Non-album tracks
1959 "I Can't Take It"
b/w "Never Let Go" (from There's Our Song Again)
"Summer's Love"
b/w "All Is Forgiven"
93 29
"Goodbye to Love"
b/w "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)"
There's Our Song Again
1960 "How Could You Call It Off"
b/w "Whoever You Are" (from We Are the Chantels)
Non-album track
1961 "Look in My Eyes"
b/w "Glad to Be Back"
14 6 On Tour
"I'm the Girl"
b/w "There's Our Song Again"
There's Our Song Again
"Well I Told You"
b/w "Still"
29 On Tour
1962 "Here It Comes Again"
b/w "Summertime"
1963 "Eternally"
b/w "Swamp Water"
77 Non-album tracks
1966 "There's No Forgetting You"
b/w "Take Me as I Am"
"You're Welcome to My Heart"
b/w "Soul of a Soldier"
"Indian Giver"
b/w "It's Just Me"
1969 "Maybe"
b/w "He's Gone"
We Are The Chantels
1970 "Love Makes All the Difference in the World"
b/w "I'm Gonna Win Him Back"
Non-album tracks
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "The Chantels". Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 98. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  4. ^ a b "End Label Album Discography". Archived from the original on October 17, 2005. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Warner, Jay (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 106-107. ISBN 9780634099786. Retrieved July 19, 2017. The Chantels.
  6. ^ "Carlton Album Discography". Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Carlton Album Discography, Part 1". May 27, 2011. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  8. ^ "Inductees". The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Fojundation. Archived from the original on July 19, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (September 17, 2001). "Spirit Of '77: Ramones, Pistols Nominated For Hall Of Fame". MTV. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
  10. ^ "Nominees For Class of 2010 Rock Hall". CBS News. September 23, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2024.
  11. ^ a b "The Chantels - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2022.


  • Clemente, John (2000). Girl Groups -- Fabulous Females That Rocked The World, Iola, Wisconsin, Krause Publications. p. 276. ISBN 0-87341-816-6.
  • Clemente, John (2013). Girl Groups -- Fabulous Females Who Rocked The World, Bloomington, Indiana, Authorhouse Publications. p. 623. ISBN 978-1-4772-7633-4 (sc); ISBN 978-1-4772-8128-4 (e).

External links[edit]