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Angela Winbush

Angela Winbush (born on January 28, 1955) is an American R&B/soul singer-songwriter who rose to fame first in the 1980s R&B duo René & Angela, also scoring hits as a solo artist. During her career, Winbush has sold ten million albums and singles worldwide, and has had twenty Top Forty R&B singles and three number one R&B singles.

Biography

Early life and career

Born to a deeply religious family in St. Louis, Missouri, Angela began singing in church. She did not initially aspire to a career in music, studying architecture at Howard University, singing only to earn extra money. By 1977, she had changed her major to music education, and recorded a demo. She shopped it to various record labels with no success, but it was heard by New York disc jockey Gary Byrd, who helped land her a spot in Stevie Wonder's backing vocal group, Wonderlove. Becoming Wonder's protegé, she learned a great deal about writing and arranging songs. While in Los Angeles with Wonder, she met singer René Moore; the two became a couple (eventually marrying), and began writing songs together. René & Angela released their self-titled debut album in 1980, followed by Wall to Wall in 1981 and Rise in 1983. During this period they had two moderate hit singles, "I Love You More" and "My First Love".

A Street Called Desire and meeting Ron Isley

During Rene & Angela's early years, they were asked to produce songs for Janet Jackson's 1982 self-titled debut album, Janet Jackson. One of the songs, "Young Love", became Jackson's first top ten R&B hit reaching number six on the chart. They also wrote exclusively for Stephanie Mills, who forged a close friendship with Winbush (their "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love", gave Mills her first-ever #1 R&B single, in 1985). Winbush would later write another Mills number one R&B hit with "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel". Between that, Rene & Angela decided to branch out and find a bigger fan base signing with Mercury Records in 1984, they released their breakthrough album, A Street Called Desire the following year. Among the hit singles included on the album was their first R&B number one with the dance single, "Save Your Love (For #1)", which included guest vocals from rapper Kurtis Blow, making it besides Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You", one of the first songs to prominently featured a rapper. Other hit singles included "I'll Be Good", the mostly Winbush-led "Your Smile" was another number one hit while the subsequent "You Don't Have to Cry", hit number two in the beginning of 1986. Eventually A Street Called Desire sold over a million copies going platinum but on the brink of their greatest success, tensions between Winbush and Moore had grown and by the end of the album's promotion, the duo split both personally and professionally. Moore would continue to find success as a songwriter, most notably for Michael Jackson, but he would never again find success as a singer as Winbush was often the main draw of their singles.

In 1987, Winbush was introduced to future husband Ronald Isley, lead singer of the influential Isley Brothers after Benny Medina had agreed to ask Winbush to be involved with the Isleys' next record after Isley had proposed plans to work with Winbush. Producing, writing and arranging the Isleys' Smooth Sailin' album, Winbush helped the group, now including just Ronald and Rudolph (eldest brother O'Kelly had passed away in 1986), score a top 10 R&B hit with the title track.

Sharp and subsequent follow-ups

In turn, Isley opted to manage Winbush and he helped in the process of releasing her debut solo album, Sharp, which was also released in 1987. The album included the huge hit, "Angel", which stayed at number one on the R&B chart for two weeks in 1987 and showcasing her five and a half octave range. Other hits include the dance track, "Run to Me", "C'est Toi (It's You)" and the Ron Isley duet, "Hello Beloved". In 1988, she wrote and produced two tracks for Sheena Easton's gold album "The Lover In Me". They were "Without You" and "Fire and Rain", both of which showcased Easton's lower range and surprisingly soulful vocals. In 1989, Winbush released her follow-up to Sharp with It's the Real Thing. The title track reached number two on the R&B chart while subsequent hits "No More Tears" and "Lay Your Troubles Down" continued Winbush's top 40 success on the R&B charts where she was now a fixture on despite failed attempts to cross her over to pop audiences. On June 26, 1993 Winbush and longtime manager/collaborator/lover Ronald Isley, who is thirteen years Angela's senior, married. A year later Winbush released her third self-titled solo album, which included the huge R&B hit, "Treat U Rite". Produced by Chuckii Booker, the song peaked at number six on the R&B chart making it Winbush's ninth top ten R&B hit altogether in her career. In 1996, Winbush was featured on the Isley Brothers' hit "Floatin' On Your Love", which was essentially a duet between Winbush and Ron Isley. The song was later remixed by Sean "Puffy" Combs and featured guest vocals from Lil' Kim and the group 112 in backgrounds. The video for it showcased Winbush serenading Isley's Mr. Biggs character. Winbush continued to collaborate with the Isley Brothers until 2001's Eternal, where afterwards, their marriage had cooled off. In 2002, Winbush and Isley quietly divorced. In 2003, Winbush made news when it was found out she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Eventually after a successful surgery, the cancer was in remission and Winbush returned to perform on the road.

Legacy and influence

Since starting out with Rene & Angela, Winbush has played an influence on various R&B and hip-hop acts. In the latter genre, Winbush has heard her music being sampled by acts such as The Notorious B.I.G. (who featured her and Jay-Z on his Rene & Angela-sampled "I Love You More" for the song "I Love the Dough"), Foxy Brown (who sampled her "I'll Be Good" for her 1997 top ten hit, "I'll Be") and singer Avant re-recorded the Rene & Angela ballad, "My First Love", with singer Keke Wyatt in 2000. In appreciation during Avant's performance of the song on BET's 106 & Park, in 2001, Winbush surprised the audience by singing alongside Avant on the song. As a singer, Winbush influenced the likes of Syleena Johnson and Chante Moore. Winbush and former partner Rene Moore also shared the distinction for being one of the first R&B acts to prominently feature a rap act in a R&B song sharing that distinction with Chaka Khan and funk band Cameo. Winbush also carries the distinction of being one of the few female artists to find success as a songwriter, arranger, producer and session musician (Winbush also is an avid musician playing piano and keyboards).

Personal Life

During a 2006 interview on the Christian TV show, Gospel of Music, hosted by Jeff Majors, Winbush disclosed that she'd overcome Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer after 6 months of chemotherapy in 2003. Her undying faith in God also got her through having a cyst (benign) removed from her breast, the ending of her marriage to Isley in divorce, and struggles with depression.

Discography

Albums

Rene & Angela

  • 1980 Rene & Angela
  • 1981 Wall To Wall #15 Billboard Chart
  • 1983 Rise #33 Billboard Chart
  • 1985 Street Called Desire #5 Billboard Chart
  • 1996 The Best of René & Angela: Come My Way
  • 1997 A Street Called Desire and More (re-release)
  • 2002 Classic Masters

Solo albums

  • 1987 Sharp #7 Billboard Chart
  • 1989 It's The Real Thing #12 Billboard Chart
  • 1994 Angela Winbush #11 Billboard Chart
  • 2001 Ultimate Collection
  • 2004 Greatest Love Songs

Singles

YearTitleAlbumUS R&B chartUK chart
1980"Do You Really Love Me"Rene & Angela43-
1980"Everything We Do"Rene & Angela39-
1981"I Love You More"Wall to Wall14-
1981"Wall to Wall"Wall to Wall37-
1982"Imaginary Playmates"Wall to Wall26-
1983"Banging The Boogie"Rise33-
1983"My First Love"Rise12-
1985"Save Your Love (For #1)"Street Called Desire166
1985"I'll Be Good"Street Called Desire422
1985"Your Smile"Street Called Desire1-
1986"You Don't Have To Cry"Street Called Desire2-
1986"No How - No Way"Street Called Desire29-
1987"Angel"Sharp1-
1987"Run to Me"Sharp4-
1988"C'est Toi (It's You)"Sharp47-
1988"Hello Beloved"Sharp26-
1989"It's The Real Thing"The Real Thing2-
1990"No More Tears"The Real Thing12-
1990"Lay Your Troubles Down"The Real Thing10-
1990"Please Bring Your Love Back"The Real Thing70-
1994"Treat U Rite"Angela Winbush6-
1994"Inner City Blues"Angela Winbush49-
1996"Floatin' On Your Love"Mission to Please14-

Awards and nominations

YearAward
1987Soul Train Music Award nomination for Single of the Year (Female) for "Angel"
1987Soul Train Music Award nomination for Album of the Year (Female) for Sharp