I’m young willing and able … to make you come apart at the seams
I’m young willing and able … think of me as peaches and cream

Cancer may have taken Minnie Riperton’s life, but 30 years later, no one has taken her place.

Minnie RIPERTON

Throughout the 60s, Riperton worked for Chess Records as a background vocalist, group member, solo artist and at one time, receptionist. While it wasn’t until “Lovin’ You” that she achieved mainstream fame, some very noteworthy work came out of that period, including singing background for Etta James.

One of my personal Riperton favorites is the cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” (more famously sung by Aretha Frankin) she recorded in 1969 as part of the psychedelic soul band Rotary Connection.

Riperton sang back-up on Stevie Wonder’s 1974 Fulfillingness’ First Finale. Wonder ended up co-producing Riperton’s Perfect Angel album, which dropped the same year. The album was a commercial success due to the popularity of the single “Lovin’ You” and Riperton was finally a star. Riperton can be heard singing her daughter’s name, “Maya, Maya, Maya,” at the end of the song. (I’m sure just about everyone knows this by now, but if you don’t, her daughter with songwriter husband Richard Rudolph is Maya Rudolph of SNL fame. They also had a son, Marc.)

In a 2008 tribute to Mariah Carey in Time mag, Wonder said he’d only met three people with “a truly wonderful voice and spirit to match” – his first wife, Mariah, and Minnie Riperton.

Definitely one of the greatest to ever do it.

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