Patti LaBelle embarked on a solo career in 1977, shortly after the split of the adventurous girl group Labelle. Her first solo album, a self-titled affair, was critically acclaimed and also found commercial success. However, her three follow-ups for Epic, failed to match that album's momentum, despite some charted singles. When her fourth album, Released, failed to generate a significant R&B or pop hit, she agreed to sign with Philadelphia International Records, which had been known to provide hits for veteran artists such as The O'Jays, Lou Rawls and Billy Paul.
With the help of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, her frequent collaborator James Ellison and PIR staff producers such as Dexter Wansel and Cecil Womack, LaBelle produced The Spirit's in It, which included her forays into other genres such as country, rock and reggae. Among the notable singles from the album included her cover of the boogie-woogie hit, "Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu", the club hit title track, "Family", "Shoot Him on Sight" (her first collaboration with songwriters Cynthia Biggs and Dexter Wansel) and "Over the Rainbow", the latter track becoming her solo cover of a tune she had previously recorded as member of Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles in the sixties. LaBelle had been performing the song in concert after embarking on her solo career. The new recording was listed as the b-side of the single "Family" and became a standout in LaBelle's career, quickly becoming a signature song for LaBelle. This album would precede her commercial breakthrough a couple years later with the album, I'm in Love Again.