Monday, September 26, 2011

Angela Winbush: The Voice of an Angel

Mama Chele stopped listening to contemporary rhythm and blues in the 90's. She couldn't get into the genre's continued merge with hip hop so whileI was growing up, tunes from the previous decade were heavily played in our living room. Through the speakers came music from Luther, Whitney, Anita, Teddy and Patti. I know each of these artists' music as well as I know the alphabet but absent from the list is Miss Angela Winbush, the songstress who topped the charts in the 80's, mostly as a part of the duo, Rene and Angela.

Hopefully you all are familiar with this song. With a perfect blend of soul and funk, it's arguably the biggest hit of their career, coming off their breakthrough album A Street Called Desire in 1984. They had a string of hits, including songs from their earlier albums including "You Don't Have to Cry" and "My First Love," the latter was covered and was a big hit almost twenty years later by Avant and Keke Wyatt.
"Your Smile" is my song! Mostly led by Angela herself, I believe it was a dedication to her grandmother. She and Rene wrote beautiful songs and other artists sought the two out for their songwriting skills. They wrote a few songs for Janet Jackson's self-titled album and then wrote exclusively for Stephanie Mills. From their music and videos it appeared as if Rene and Angela's chemistry was as perfect as their talent. However, on TV One's UnSung, Winbush revealed that their relationship began to sour and that Rene even was physically abusive towards her in the end.
Needless to say the two went their separate ways. He continued songwriting, most notably for Michael Jackson. Angela started her solo career off strong with the single 'Angel' where she showcased her amazing vocal ability. Her debut album Sharp happened largely with the help of Ronald Isley. It was his way of thanking her for contributing to the production of the Isley Brothers' album Smooth Sailing. Her career continued to soar for the following years and she even ended up marrying Mr. Biggs in 1993.

But with her success came tragedy. Though she continued to collaborate with the Isley Brothers, Angela and Ron divorced in 2002. A year later she publicly announced that she was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. She also struggled with severe depression. Angela attributes her full recovery to her deep faith in God. Well we are happy to still have her here with us. Her music is a treasure and while she may not be as well known as other artists of that time period, her talents and contributions to the music world were undoubtedly significant.

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