Her talent shines through on the compilation album Minnie Riperton: Her Chess Years , which features 16 songs recorded over the period , covering her work with girl band The Gems through to Chicago-based psychedelic soul group Rotary Connection. The Chicago-born Riperton was a trained opera singer who possessed a rare five-octave range, and few singers of her generation could match her vocal skills. After signing to Chess Records as a teenager, she served an apprenticeship as a backing vocalist before eventually achieving solo success, with one album produced by Wonder. Both feature her glittering falsetto high-notes. Riperton recorded six albums with Rotary Connection, including one that blended psychedelia, soul and Christmas.
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Riperton as a child, studied music, ballet, and drama at Lincoln Center in Chicago and was a trained to become an opera singer. In preparation for a career in operettas and show tunes, she studied under Marion Jeffery. Emphasis was given in diction, breathing, and phrasing. At age 15, Riperton sang lead vocals with the girl group, the Gems. On the night of December 26, , she was presented by Ramsey Lewis as a solo artist at the famed London House in Chicago at which time she performed several selections from the album. Although the album did not achieve much commercial success, it is considered by music critics as a masterpiece. Riperton worked with Stevie Wonder as a member of his backing band Wonderlove.
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Her No. As part of the group Rotary Connection, Ripperton graduated from being the front-of-house girl at Chess to a becoming a member of one of the first black psych groups, whose ranks included the great Blue Thumb artist and guitarist Phil Upchurch. That grounding made her a natural for the solo life. With a post-Motown atmosphere and a much slicker emphasis on musicianship, Ripperton was one of the first female soul singers to utilise synths and early programming. There was a posthumous album, Love Lives Forever , and but a few choice compilations, but they are not enough. These days, Minnie Ripperton is the kind of singer that younger stars discover and revere Kate Bush is a huge fan.
The tragic death of year-old Minnie Riperton in silenced one of soul music's most unique and unforgettable voices. Blessed with an angelic five-octave vocal range, she scored her greatest commercial success with the chart-topping pop ballad "Lovin' You. As a youth she studied music, drama, and dance at the city's Abraham Lincoln Center and later contemplated a career in opera. Her pop career began in when she joined a local group called the Gems , signing to the famed Chess label to release a handful of singles as well as lend backing vocals to acts including Fontella Bass , the Dells , and Etta James. After graduating high school, Riperton went to work at Chess as a receptionist. Following the Gems ' dissolution, she also signed with the label as a solo act, releasing a single, "Lonely Girl," under the alias Andrea Davis. In , Riperton was installed as the lead vocalist of the psychedelic soul band Rotary Connection , which debuted that year with a self-titled LP on Cadet Concept. The singles "Amen" and "Lady Jane" found a home on underground FM radio, but the group failed to make much of an impression on mainstream outlets. While still a member of the band, Riperton mounted a solo career.