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Loleatta Holloway

It may surprise some that perennial dance diva Loleatta Holloway's highest charting solo record was a soulful ballad, "Cry to Me." Still, Holloway is best known for dancefloor workouts like "Love Sensation," "Hit and Run," and "Run Away." Born in Chicago in 1946, Holloway developed her throaty, full-bodied vocal style and dramatic presentation while singing with her mother in the gospel group, the Holloway Community Singers. She later began taking acting classes. As a teenager, she joined classic gospel group the Caravans led by Albertina Walker, who recorded for Savoy Records. In the early '70s, she joined the Chicago cast of the musical Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope. Around this time, she met her future producer, manager, and husband, Floyd Smith. Smith produced a cover of Gene Chandler's 1963/1965 hit "Rainbow '71" for his Apache label. Atlanta businessman Michael Thevis, who had just started GRC (General Recording Corporation), signed Holloway to his Aware label. The small double-sided hit "Our Love" (number 43 R&B)/"Mother of Shame" (number 63 R&B) charted during the summer of 1973. The tunes were included on her debut album, Loleatta (1973). "Cry to Me," the title track of her second album, gave Holloway her highest charting solo single on the R&B and pop charts; written by master songwriter Sam Dees, it hit number ten R&B in early 1975.