Time to introduce you to another great vocalist, this time it´s a lady called Regina Belle. She was born in Englewood, New Jersey in the year of 1963. Just like a whole dozen other singers/musicians she got her first attention in the local churh, this time it was first Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Englewood and then Paterson´s Friendship Baptist Church.
The later one was presided by her uncle. She sang her first solo in church at age of 8 then some years later when she was 17 she had become the church star singer if you may say so.
Picture shows a quite young Regina, sometime in the 90:s.
In high school she studied trombone, tuba and steel drums, ok tuba and trombone makes sense since they belong to the same “instrument group”, brass, but steel drums stands out here for sure!
After graduation she studied opera at Manhattan School of Music and after that she went to the university and there she became the first femal vocalist with the school´s jazz ensemble. A New York radio-dj introduced her for the r&b vocal group called The Manhattans, picture below.
Together with the group she recorded a duet called “Where did we go wrong” and this duet helped her get the attention from Colombia Records who later signed her to the label. The debut album came in 1987 and was called “All by myself”, see pic below, and no it’s not a cover version of the old Eric Carmen hit 😉 It just happens to have the same title as the song.
The album included her first hits “So many tears” and “Show me the way”. Next album came two years later. In 1991 she did a duet with singer Johnny Mathis and the song was called “Better Together” and it was featured on his album “Better Together – The duet album”.
Now since she had made some duets she wanted to continue with this and the next one to team up with was soul/r&b singer Peabo Bryson and together they recorded three songs “Without You”, “I Can´t Imagine” and finally “A Whole New World”.
The picture is a screen/snap shot from the “A Whole New World” video Regina and Peabo Bryson.
The later one was featured in the 1992 Disney movie called Alladin and this song made it to #1 at the Billboard Hot 100 and in 1993 it won a Grammy Award for “Best Pop Performance For A Duo or Group With Vocal” that´s long name for a award don’t you think? 😉
Later the same year, 1993, her Platinum selling third album, “Passion”, were released and it had 3 hits, the #1 Disney i´ve mentioned earlier, “Dream in color” and “If i could”.
Picture above shows Regina’s third album “Passion”.
The next albums didn´t become any major success and she started to become a little forgotten and the career seemed to have peaked. However in 2001 when she was singing “Just the two of us” on the tribute album “To Grover With Love”, picture below, it became her surprising return to the charts again! I hope she didn’t forgot to give thanks to Jason Miles who was responsible for that album/project as well beeing the producer.
Shortly after she was signed to the jazz orientated independent jazz label Peak-Concord Jazz and on this label she released “This is Regina” and the album featured the hit single “Ooh Boy”.
Today she´s living with her husband in Atlanta, Georgia and together they have 5 children. Regina has a big voice and knows perfectly how to use it, when the song requires it she can go way up or low as well. If i tell you she can sing anything i guess you wouldn’t be surprised. Her main music influences are Phillis Hyman, Billie Holliday, Nancy Wilson and Donny Hathaway.
Her style in general is not so much slick but more tradtitional urban soul/r&b. Still there´s a reason why i´m writing about her here and that reason is the 2008 album called “Lazy Afternoon”, picture below. The song i’ve chosen is a song which Otis Redding made famous and he always ended his shows with it and it is “Try A Little Tenderness”.
This album is like a mix between jazz and soul with some gospel vibes here and there! It contains mostly jazz standards but in new great and fresh arrangemnets. Now this album is slick and produced by a dude that sure knows how to make it sound slick yet fresh and funky as well, George Duke and whom also playing keyboards here.
Enjoy your listening!!