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Sharon Redd 5/1992

sharon-reddMay 1, 1992 – Sharon Redd was born October 19, 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia

Her parents were Gene Redd and Katherine Redd. Gene Redd was a producer and musical director at King Records, and her stepfather performed with Benny Goodman’s orchestra. Her brother Gene Redd Jr. was a songwriter and producer for Kool & the Gang and BMP. Her sister Pennye Ford is also a singer with two albums to her credit and known for her work as the main singer for Snap!

She began her recording career with four singles in 1968 for the United Artists label, three written and all four produced by songwriter and record producer Bobby Susser. Susser chose the Hank Williams song “Half As Much” to be Redd’s first single. Redd’s vocals, against Susser’s heavy-bass track, made her presence very quickly known to R&B radio stations.

Redd, as a budding actress, got a major break when she starred in an Australian production of the rock musical Hair. She was among a troupe of young African-American imports to the Sydney production, a group which notably included Marcia Hines. Redd appeared in the production from its June 6, 1969 premiere through 1971.

As Redd was becoming famous in Australia, she was interviewed by Barry Sloane on a 1971 episode of “GTK”. Her popular adverts for Amoco led to her own television special. Redd and Hair co-star Teddy Williams were asked to leave Australia by the Immigration Department in April 1971 for reasons they believed were race-motivated. Aside from Hair, Redd also appeared in Ti-Jean and His Brothers and, in 1974, traveled to London to star in an American production of The Wedding of Iphigenia.

In the mid-1970s, Bette Midler was looking to replace Merle Miller and Gail Kantor, both of whom had left after Midler’s 1973 tour to pursue their own interests. Midler auditioned over 70 performers, but Redd landed the job, becoming one of Bette’s Harlettes. Aside from performing as a Harlette, Redd also provided backing vocals for Carol Douglas (“Burnin'” and “Night Fever”) and Norman Connors (“You Are My Starship”). Having ended their association with Midler, Redd, Charlotte Crossley, & Ula Hedwig released an LP, Formerly of the Harlettes, in late 1977. In that same year Redd played the role of Sherrye in the U.S. television sitcom “Rhonda”. 1978 also saw Redd feature as a guest in the musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In 1979, Redd recorded the disco hit “Love Insurance,” released by Panorama Records under the name Front Page, her own vocals going uncredited. But she soon signed a recording contract with Prelude Records, and Redd became the label’s most successful artist. Her first album, 1980’s self-titled Sharon Redd, was closely followed by two more—Redd Hott (1982) and Love How You Feel (1983).
Redd placed several songs on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, including “Beat the Street,” “In the Name of Love,” and “Love How You Feel.”

After these releases, Sharon Redd returned to her successful career as a background vocalist, most notably with the group Soirée, which also included among its members Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown. Following the UK top 20 success of a re-recorded “Can You Handle It”, she recorded a single entitled “All the Way to Love”, with Les Adams. The song remains unreleased. This was to be her last solo recording.

In the midst of mounting a comeback in the early 1990s, Redd died of aids related pneumonia on May 1, 1992. She was 46.

In 1993, Pennye Ford dropped the ‘e’ from her name and released the album Penny Ford, which featured a duet with her sister entitled “Under Pressure.”


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