html xmlns:og='' xmlns:expr=''> Lounging at the Waldorf: My Monday Muse: Five Inspiring Truths, Some Photos, and a Song


Monday, March 12, 2012

My Monday Muse: Five Inspiring Truths, Some Photos, and a Song

Minnie Ripperton


Born the youngest of 8 children in Chicago, three-year-old Minnie Ripperton would ask her parents if she could perform for every visitor who came to their home. She described herself as an energetic child who was always in a play or winning a singing contest. In high school, she sang with the girl group The Gems. The Gems were also session singers recording under the name The Studio Three. They sang background for such luminaries as Etta James, Ramsay Lewis, and Bo Diddley.


At the same time, Minnie studied opera, developed her signature five-octave range, and recorded the Midwest hit Lonely Girl under the name Andrea Davis. Impressed with her ambition, Marshall Chess of Chess Records invited Minnie to sing with an experimental rock band he was putting together. With their psychedelic soul sound, Rotary Connection went on to record the cosmic classic I Am the Black Gold of the Sun and a sexy, meandering version of Respect. They toured and performed non-stop, opening for Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones.


She was at the top of the stairs. He at the bottom of the stairs. Their eyes met. Minnie described it like this, “He looked at me, I looked at him, and I knew.” The man was Richard Rudolph and soon they were married and writing music together.  Needing a break from Chicago, the couple moved to a farm run by hippies in Gainesville, Florida. An intern from CBS/Epic Records had heard Minnie sing with Rotary Connection and now that he was a full-time employee, wanted to find her and sign her. In 1971, he caught up with the Rudolph family – now including son Marc and daughter Maya – in Florida. Minnie and Richard played him a few of the songs they’d written and Minnie was signed to Epic Records. The family moved to Los Angeles with one goal in mind: to meet Stevie Wonder and have him produce Minnie’s album. They found him and he said yes.

Stevie produced Perfect Angel and refused to take money for the job because he was so in love with her voice.  On the record, she went from sweet to sensitive to powerful - sometimes in the same song.  Loving You proved to be the breakout hit charting at hit number one in 24 countries in 1975. Her next album featured Inside My Love, a song that proved too racy for mainstream radio.

Stay Happy
In 1976 she announced that she had undergone a mastectomy and became a spokesperson for The American Cancer Society. When promoting her last album, Minnie, she toured and performed on various television shows, despite having lost mobility in her arm and eventually her hair.  "I’ve enjoyed all my years of singing. I’ve been really fortunate. Just be as positive as possible and feel really good about whatever you’re doing, regardless if it takes time or if it happens quickly. Just have a good time. Stay happy."

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