CHERYL LYNN


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Cheryl is an R&B-dance music vocalist with an inimitable style that has equal parts sweetness & sass – oftentimes thick with rhythm, singer Cheryl Lynn (b. Lynda Cheryl Smith, March 11, 1957, Los Angeles) racked up an impressive 19 charted R&B singles in the period between 1978-1990. Known primarily for her two biggest hits – 1978’s “Got To Be Real” & 1984’s “Encore,” – both which hit the Number One position on the Billboard R&B chart, Lynn was a consistent presence on the R&B and Dance charts, usually choosing an uptempo song as her primary single from the nine LPs she recorded, the bulk of which were on the Columbia label.

 

Despite her talent, the lady with an impressive five-octave vocal range did have other aspirations for her life’s career. Having enrolled in The University of Southern California, where she majored in Speech Pathology, Lynn was only a few credits away from completing her degree when she was lured by a boyfriend at the time to compete on a nationally syndicated t.v. show, the dubiously titled Gong Show, hosted by Chuck Barris. It was on that show that Lynn sang Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher’s “You Are So Beautiful,” easily beating the competition with a 30-point perfect score. However, it wasn’t until nearly three months later, when the show was aired for broadcast, that fate showed it had more sublime plans for the shy singer. During an interview with author Adam White, Lynn recalls: “I went down there one Thursday morning to do the show…We taped in June and the show did not air until Sept. 14th, so I had completely forgotten about it. In fact, I didn’t even see it.”

Lynn may have missed her performance, but the recording industry didn’t. The reaction to her appearance was swift. Among those who were struck by the singer’s talent and range was Marty Paich, father of singer David Paich of the pop group Toto. A major-label bidding war ensued, with Lynn being wooed by Warner Bros., Atlantic, CBS & ABC Dunhill.  Lynn met with the different label executives and found herself most comfortable with Bruce Lundvall & Walter Yetnikoff of CBS.

For her first recording session, Columbia chose top studio musicians to work with the fledgling singer/songwriter. Session stars such as the aforementioned Paich, as well as Harvey Mason, James Gadson, Bernard Purdie and others were hired to help Lynn create her own personal sound. Further commenting on “Got To Be Real”, she notes during White’s interview: “I would sing what I felt, and that was the basis of my first album…the melody line and the lyrics were written by me.” She later adds: “All of the vocals on that first album were the first rundown. I sang while the musicians played in the studio. So the vocals were done live.” The collaboration evidently paid off, as Lynn had a Number One R&B hit right off the bat, with “Got To Be Real” eventually climbing into the upper register of the Billboard pop top 20. Other industry publications at the time such as Cashbox and Record World had Lynn solidly in the pop top 10.

The singer’s follow-up single “Star Love,” as well as choice LP cuts, were a showcase for Lynn’s mighty and awesome multi-octave vocal range. Favorably compared to the late Minnie Riperton and Chaka Khan by several periodical reviews and fan magazines, “Star Love” was a tour-de-force example of what the singer was capable of.  During Lynn’s 1976 Gong Show stint, guest panelist judge Della Reese was awestruck by the singer’s range, calling it “unbelievable”.

Cheryl Lynn continued to have success on the r&b and club charts into the late 80’s with subsequent releases all the while working with top musicians and producers such as Ray Parker Jr., Luther Vandross & James “Jimmy Jam” Harris & Terry Lewis to provide different dimensions of the Cheryl Lynn sound. The artist has also produced herself on several occasions, which at the time was a rarity in the business.

In 1995, Ms. Lynn signed an exclusive deal with Japan’s Avex Records and released the critically acclaimed Good Time LP, which was produced by noted artists Teddy Riley & Jazzie B of Soul II Soul and Ms. Lynn. The album sold well in the targeted Asian market, however Lynn has since severed her ties with the label and is currently working on new projects. She continues to be a presence on the West Coast in her hometown of Los Angeles, frequenting musical & charitable events. She has also performed on several tv specials, appearing on HBO’s Sinbad's Summer Soul Jam 4 (1998), hosted by comedian/actor Sinbad, and more recently on ABC’s The Disco Ball...A 30-Year Celebration, which aired in January 2003. Her latest recording, "Sweet Kind Of Life" (2004), which was also written and produced by Jam & Lewis, was featured on the film soundtrack for the animated film Shark Tale.  More recently “Got To Be Real” was re-certified as a platinum seller, for sales in excess of one-million copies by the RIAA, and inducted into the Dance Music Hall Of Fame.

Cat Cohen accompanied Cheryl when she auditioned for “The Gong Show.” and continued to help her prepare for recording her first two albums.  Lynn would go on to record one of his songs penned with Leslie Ruchala, ”In Love” on the album of the same name.  A few years later Cheryl recorded a song Cat penned with Thurlene Johnson, “This Time”

You can find more about Cheryl at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheryl_Lynn and hear her incredible voice at www.myspace.com/butterflygong1.


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