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    Robinson, Vicki Sue (31 May 1954 – 27 April 2000)

    Actress and vocalist from Harlem, New York, who was brought up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and made her stage debut at six years of age.  At ten, she and her father Bill, an actor, and her mother Jolly, a singer, moved back to the Apple. 


    By the time she was sixteen years old, she was in the Broadway production of Hair.  Soon, she was in Soon, a play which featured a young Richard Gere.  The two of them then portrayed Richard and Mimi Farina off-Broadway in Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone.  She broke into film in the early ‘70s with small roles in Going Home and To Find a Man, then was back onstage in Voices from the Third World.  She also background vocals on Todd Rundgren’s ambitious 1972 album, Something/Anything?.  In 1973, she was back on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ, Superstar, and visited Japan, eventually collaborating with Itsuro Shimoda on the LP, Love Songs and Lamentations. 


    She was “discovered” by Warren Schatz, an engineer and producer who heard her sing and thought she would be a good disco singer.  He asked her to lay down some tracks, such as a cover version of “Baby Now That I’ve Found You”, which had been a hit for The Foundations.  It did not become a hit for Vicki, but that did not stop her and Warren from getting to work on her first long-play record, Never Gonna Let You Go.  The album fared okay, reaching #49 on the pop chart and #51 on the black chart, but it was the singles the album yielded that launched Vicki into the stratosphere.  The title track hit the top ten on the disco chart and “Turn the Beat Around” became an international hit, going to #10 in the U.S., #11 in The Netherlands, #12 in South Africa, #14 in Canada, and #44 in France. 


    Vicki’s sophomore effort, Vicki Sue Robinson, charted higher than her debut, #39 on the black chart and #45 on the pop chart, but its singles did not:  Remakes of “Daylight” and “Hold Tight” reached a meager #61 and #67 on the Billboard Hot 100.  In 1978, she released her third album, Half & Half, and it didn’t do half so well, peaking at #56 on the black chart and #110 on the pop chart.  She also appeared on Warren Schatz’s Disco Spectacular, a compilation of various artists doing club-friendly versions of songs from, ironically, Hair.  (Vicki sang “Easy to Be Hard”.)  In 1979, she issued her last album, Movin’ On, contributed “Nighttime Fantasy” to the soundtrack of Nocturna:  Granddaughter of Dracula, and appeared on the big screen in Gangsters. 


    The hits were drying up but Vicki continued, undaunted, singing commercial jingles (Folgers, anyone?) and background vocals on other people’s hits such as “Fame” by Irene Cara.  In 1983, Vicki charted again, in Australia of all places, with a disco rendition of “To Sir with Love”, of all things.  In the late 1980s, Vicki dubbed the vocals for Minx and Rapture in the animated television program, Jem.  She collaborated with RuPaul on the 1996 CD, Foxy Lady, and scored her first hit in the U.K. with “House of Joy” in 1997. 


    Then it was back to the movies, sort of:  Her song, “My Stomp, My Beat”, was included on the soundtrack of Chasing Amy, and Vicki appeared as herself in Unauthorized Biography:  Milo, Death of a Supermodel.  Thanks in part to Gloria Estefan’s remake of “Turn the Beat Around”, Vicki’s career was resurrected in the ‘90s and she went on an international tour with fellow disco icons, Gloria Gaynor, Thelma Houston, K.C. & the Sunshine Band, and The Village People.  In 1999, she appeared off-Broadway in the self-explanatory Vicki Sue Robinson:  Behind the Beat, and hit #18 on the dance chart with what would prove to be her swan song, “Move On”. 


    She did one more film, Red Lipstick, but did not live to see it.  On 27th April 2000, she died of complications from cancer in Wilton, Connecticut. 



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicki_Sue_Robinson
    2. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0733168/bio
    3. http://www.last.fm/music/Vicki+Sue+Robinson
    4. http://www.mp3.com/artist/vicki-sue-robinson/summary/










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