Classics: Stephanie Mills – What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’ (20 Century Fox Records)
I suppose it’s fair to say Stephanie Mills‘s profile got into another dimension after signing with 20th Century Records. Teamin’ up with producers James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, she contributed bringing their sophisticated sound to the forefront. The threesome delivering ‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin” back in 1979. An album which saw her duetting with Teddy Pendergrass on the vibrant ‘Feel The Fire’. But also firing things up on the Disco fueled ‘You Can Get Over’ and the intoxicating ‘Put Your Body In It’. Meanwhile, she would touch the Gral with its title cut. Flirting with sophisticated Soul vibes in a vein somehow reminding of Ashford & Simpson‘s. A smoothie which Inner City covered 10 years after with an outstanding remix courtesy of David Morales and Frankie Knuckles.
– Stephanie Mills‘s first appearance under the spotlights happened when she was just 9 years old. She therefore landed a role in the Broadway show ‘Maggie Flynn’. Her career taking rise when she portrayed Dorothy in the Broadway musical ‘The Wiz’, an African-American adaptation of ‘The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz”. A role she would keep for 4 years, meanwhile setting up her recording career.
After two albums, respectively on Motown and ABC Records, she signed to 20th Century Fox. There, she released 3 albums along with producers James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. Her first one in the series – ‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’ – featured ‘Put Your Body In It’, ‘You Can Get Over’ and its title cut which would later be a hit for Inner City. Her second one – Sweet Sensation – spawning the memorable ‘Never Knew Love Like This Before’ and its title cut.
1981 saw Stephanie Mills working closely with Teddy Pendergrass. Recording a duet of ‘Feel The Fire’ on his ‘T.P.’ album. Meanwhile, the latter returned the favor with ‘Two Hearts’ from her album, ‘Stephanie’.
‘You Can’t Run From My Love’, another production by the likes of Mtume and Lucas, followed in 1982, although she was then signed to Casablanca Records. Meanwhile, she would bring another biggie for the label 2 years after with ‘The Medicine Song’.
She moved to MCA in 1985. The two most memorable singles from that period being ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Power Of Love’, written by Angela Winbush and René Moore. And (You’re Puttin’) A Rush On Me’, produced by Paul Lawrence, two years after.
Mills eventually teamed up with Kenny Dope and Louie Vega on the 1999 MAW Records released ‘Latin Lover’, with the latter remixing ‘Free’ for her in 2005 on UK label Expansion Records…
– James Mtume, a singer, songwriter, and multi instrumentist, and Reggie Lucas (himself a guitarist and songwriter too) met during their days as members of the Miles Davis band in the early 70’s.
Together, they produced an impressive series of outstanding gems. Among their most memorable ones: ‘Back Together Again’ for Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. ‘You Know How To Love Me’ for Phyllis Hyman. ‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin” and ‘Put Your Body In It’ for Stephanie Mills. But also ‘Say You Will’ for Eddie Henderson and Real Thing‘s ‘She’s A Groovy Freak’.
Ultimately they would work together on the two first albums of Mtume. In other words, ‘Kiss This World Goodbye’. Then ‘In Search Of The Rainbow Seekers’ out of which came ‘So You Wanna Be A Star’. This before parting ways by the beginning of the 80’s.
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