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Doris Coley 2/2000

Doris ColeyFebruary 4, 2000 – Doris Coley (The Shirelles) was born August 2nd 1941 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, but spend her formative and teenage years in Passaic New Jersey, where Doris became a founding member and occasional lead singer of the Shirelles in 1958. The four teenagers, Beverly Lee of Passaic and Shirley Alston Reeves (born Shirley Owens) of Hillside and Addie “Mickie” Harris did not graduate with their class of 1958, but they earned diplomas later.

Instead they went on to release a string of hits including “Baby It’s You” , “Mama Said”, “Foolish Little Girl”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, “Soldier Boy” and “Sha La La”. Doris sang lead on “Dedicated to the One I Love”, “Welcome Home Baby”, “Blue Holiday” and a number of ‘b’ sides and album cuts.

As a group The Shirelles inspired a wave of other “girl groups,” including The Supremes. At their first performance, a Passaic High School talent show, they sang “I Met Him on a Sunday” and received a standing ovation. They went on to record several Top 40 hits, including “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (1961) and “Soldier Boy” (1962). The Shirelles recorded “I Met Him on a Sunday,” their first song, for independent record producer Florence Greenberg, the mother of one of their classmates, Mary Jane [Greenberg]. After Decca released the record and dismissed the Shirelles as one-hit wonders, Greenberg signed them to her new Scepter Records label.

The Shirelles stayed together until 1968, broke up and reunited, and finally splintered in the 1970’s. Ms. Kenner-Jackson kept performing in one of three postbreakup versions of the group.

She briefly worked for Federal Express in the 1970’s, but mostly stayed active on the oldies-revival circuit. Despite her two-year fight with cancer, she was entertaining audiences until a few weeks before her death, said Ms. Nance, of Paterson, N.J.

In 1994, when the Rhythm and Blues Foundation gave the Shirelles a Heritage Award, Ms. Kenner-Jackson sang with the group’s other surviving members, Ms. Alston Reeves and Ms. Lee, for the first time in 19 years, Harris having died in 1982. The threesome met again when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Jackson returned to Passaic for that reunion performance with two other members of the Shirelles, Beverly Lee of Passaic and Shirley Alston Reeves (born Shirley Owens) of Hillside.

“God, it feels good to be here,” Jackson said during the performance, which ended in a shower of flowers, proclamations, honorary diplomas, and a standing ovation.  The following night, the Shirelles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Manhattan.
“They were trendsetters because they were around before the Supremes were around; They laid the foundation for the other girl groups to follow.”

The 1996 performance at Passaic High School marked the last time the three remaining Shirelles performed together. Jackson, however, had continued to sing despite her battle with cancer. She most headlined an engagement in the state of Washington over New Year’s, and entertained passengers on a cruise ship in early January, relatives said.
She worked through her illness,” Nance said. “She was very passionate about her career. . . . She gave so much to so many people, and people gave back to her.”
Soul singer and contemporary Maxine Brown, who also sang at Scepter, once paid Jackson a knowing compliment. “They were pioneers. They had a unique sound.”

Doris died of breast cancer at the age of 58 on February 4, 2000 in Sacramento, California.

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