Yarbrough and Peoples

Yarbrough and Peoples

    They were one of the most successful – and underrated – acts of the early 1980s, but though time at the top of the R&B world was brief, Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples created music and a union that have lasted for decades.

    Yarbrough & Peoples debuted on charts with a song that rose all the way to #1. The funky, electronic hit “Don’t Stop The Music” was right on the mark for R&B radio in 1981, as Alisa’s powerful vocals gave a touch of church to a scorching dance tune. But the couple debuted as friends two decades earlier in the Dallas area, when as young children they met at piano lessons. That friendship turned into a songwriting relationship, and ultimately to a local stage act that won over Charlie Wilson, who helped the duo get a contract as songwriters for Lonnie Simmons’ Total Experience Records.

    Moving to L.A. to be part of Total Experience, Y&P toiled as staff songwriters until a senior leader at Mercury Records (Total Experience’s distribution partner) heard them singing in the studio and helped make them a recording act. With Total Experience CEO Lonnie Simmons directing them, Y&P became one of the top duos of the early 80s, consistently hitting the top 10 with songs like “Heartbeats,” “I Wouldn’t Lie,” “Guilty” and the #1 smash “Don’t Waste Your Time.”

    Even as they were achieving fame and radio success, the duo complained that they weren’t being compensated fairly by Total Experience. They also struggled through their long-hidden romantic personal relationship, which was threatened by an L.A. lifestyle that promoted drug abuse and infidelity.

    So Yarbrough & Peoples took their career and their relationship into their own hands, leaving Total Experience in 1986 and marrying the following year. They later moved back to Dallas, to get back to their personal and spiritual roots. They began their own production company, while also reconnecting with their hometown church as music directors.

    Yarbrough & Peoples continue to write and produce for themselves and for other local artists in the Dallas area, and in 2013, they issued the very nice single, “I’m In.” They've also continued to tour, mostly in multi-act shows with performers such as Morris Day and Lakeside.

    More recently they have also expanded into acting, and have parts in two independent films slated for 2022 release, The Rings That Bind Us and Flesh & Bone. And they came full circle on November 6, 2021, when they celebrated the 40th anniversary of "Don't Stop The Music" at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters in the Dallas Convention Center, with special tributes from the Mayor of Dallas and the State of Texas.

    We look forward to hearing more from this amazing couple that has brought joy to the arts for four decades.

    By Chris Rizik

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