Tue. Oct. 19, 2021

Sylvester – Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait)

Lost but not least! Sylvester feat. Jeanie Tracy – Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait) (Fantasy)

If ever there was a Disco Queen in all senses of the term, then this would be California native Sylvester. A figure who managed to blend his Gospel heritage from his young days with the in yer face energy of Disco beats back then. Developping a flamboyant androgynous appearance, his insane falsetto performances adding to his ongoing legend.

A reaction to the Disco sucks movement that took place in Chicago during the Summer of 1979? The one known as its undisputed Queen obviously took his distance from the genre. Releasing soon after the infectious funk bass-driven midtempo ‘Give It Up’. Eventually sharing the vocal duties with the sultry Jeanie Tracy. And surrounded by the late Woody Cunningham of the Kleeer fame on drums and Gerald Martin responsible for a blowing jazzy sax part. Not surprisingly, the unsung ‘Give It Up’ never got the same recognition as ‘You Make Me Feel’ or ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’. Larry Levan turned it though into a classic at The Paradise Garage which is justice!

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Born in Watts, Los Angeles, Sylvester James, Jr. first established himself as a child Gospel star through the choir of his Pentecostal church. He would leave the church after the congregation expressed disapproval of his homosexuality. And from then, he found friendship among a group of Black cross-dressers and transgender women who called themselves The Disquotays. Movin’ to San Francisco, he fronted avant-garde drag troupe The Cockettes. And while touring in New York, he set up his own group (Sylvester & The Hot Band). He soon after met Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes who became his background singers (also known as Two Tons Of Fun) in addition to Jeanie Tracy.

After two albums on Blue Thumb which went unsuccessful, he therefore went solo, signing a deal with producer Harvey Fuqua of Fantasy Records. He released 6 albums for the label between 1977 and 1981. There, he rose to fame with classics such as ‘You Make Me Feel’, ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’ which Louie Vega recently remixed, and ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’. But also ‘I Need You’ and ‘Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait)’, a Paradise Garage anthem, along with Jeanie Tracy. Not to mention his vibrant version of ‘Over And Over’. He then switched to Megatone Records, working with producer Patrick Cowley. This giving birth to the memorable ‘Do You Wanna Funk’.

The flamboyant singer, also known as The Queen Of Disco, sadly died on Dec. 16, 1988, aged 41, after a long battle against AIDS. (*) In 2005, he was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, while his life has been recorded in a biography and made the subject of both a documentary and a musical. (* Wikipedia)

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