First Ladies of Disco

32 Stars Discuss the Era and Their Singing Careers


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About the Book

   The female vocalists who pioneered the disco genre in the ’70s and early ’80s were an extraordinarily talented group who dazzled the world with an exciting blend of elegance, soulful passion and gutsy fire. In this book of original interviews, 32 of these women tell their stories, explaining how they view their music, careers, connection to gay audiences, and their places in dance music history.
   Interviewed artists include: The Andrea True Connection; Claudja Barry; Pattie Brooks; Miquel Brown; Linda Clifford; Carol Douglas; Yvonne Elliman; Rochelle Fleming (First Choice); Gloria Gaynor; Debbie Jacobs-Rock; Madleen Kane; Evelyn “Champagne” King; Audrey Landers; Suzi Lane; Cynthia Manley (Boys Town Gang); Kelly Marie; Maxine Nightingale; Scherrie Payne; Wardell Piper; The Ritchie Family, 1975–1978: Gwendolyn Wesley, Cassandra Wooten and Cheryl Mason-Dorman; The Ritchie Family, 1978–1982: Theodosia “Dodie” Draher; Barbara Roy (Ecstasy Passion & Pain); Pamala Stanley; Evelyn Thomas; Jeanie Tracy; Anita Ward; Martha Wash; Carol Williams; Jessica Williams and Norma Jean Wright.

About the Author(s)

James Arena is a New York-based author, host and commentator who has been featured on MSNBC, Fox, SiriusXM and other networks. He is the author of the pop culture books Fright Night on Channel 9, First Ladies of Disco and Legends of Disco and a recipient of a G.E.M.A. Foundation/City of Philadelphia award for preserving dance music history.

Bibliographic Details

James Arena
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 65 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7581-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0332-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Gloria Gaynor 1

Foreword by Claudja Barry 3

Preface      7

Behind the Scenes      13

Dancing in Heaven 31

The First Ladies of Disco

The Andrea True Connection 41

Claudja Barry 57

Pattie Brooks 64

Miquel Brown 71

Linda Clifford 75

Carol Douglas 83

Yvonne Elliman 89

Rochelle Fleming (First Choice) 93

Gloria Gaynor 100

Debbie Jacobs-Rock 111

Madleen Kane 117

Evelyn “Champagne” King 123

Audrey Landers 130

Suzi Lane 137

Cynthia Manley (Boys Town Gang) 143

Kelly Marie 152

Maxine Nightingale 156

Scherrie Payne 163

Wardell Piper 170

The Ritchie Family, 1975–1978 175

The Ritchie Family, 1978–1982 183

Barbara Roy (Ecstasy, Passion & Pain) 190

Pamala Stanley 197

Evelyn Thomas 203

Jeanie Tracy 210

Anita Ward 217

Martha Wash 224

Carol Williams 231

Jessica Williams 237

Norma Jean Wright 244

Afterword by Harry Wayne Casey (KC) 249

The Flip Side: Recommended Listening 251

Index 255

Book Reviews & Awards

• “If you James [Arena], you know how much disco music means to him. It has been a passion and true love that has remained with him for decades…. the inclusion of lesser-known artists who contributed timeless classics with their music make this book uniquely special… This represents Arena’s genuine love and deep knowledge of the genre and keeps all the women responsible for the worldwide explosion of disco music alive within these pages through wonderful and insightful story telling…. a time travelling, in–depth history lesson. The personalized manner of posing questions and getting the artists to open up without reservation results in a fun, informative and easy read, a polished skill that Arena has ultimately mastered.”—Beatselector Magazine
• “The year’s best book…outstanding accounts”—Windy City Times
• “Thorough…riveting and detailed journey into the lives and careers of some of the most important women at the forefront of the height of an era…engaging…highly recommended”—
• “Dust off your platform heels for a strut down memory lane to the Disco clubs”—
• “The book is very thorough…with long biographical sketches on each of the entrants…interesting and informative reading…most highly recommended”—
• “Diva lovers and disco fans will dig James Arena’s new book”—The Advocate