"When magic steps into the spotlight for the first time. . . it dazzles." So read the headline in an October 1980 full page ad in Billboard, announcing the introduction of 18 year old Angela Clemmons and her first single, a brilliant version of "Out Here On My Own," a song made popular that same year by Irene Cara in the movie Fame. Clemmons' voice was indeed dazzling: a bright soprano bearing similarities to the then-hot Deniece Williams, and with a beautiful tone. And while Clemmons had a brief moment of the kind of recognition promised in the ad, she's spent most of her career using her gift to help other artists dazzle.
The Connecticut-born Clemmons didn't chart with "Out Here On My Own," but two years later finally had her first hit, a great dance cover of the Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time." The song became a smash in the clubs and hit the top 5 on the dance charts and remains a collector's item to this day. Her accompanying eponymous debut album was similarly appealing, featuring a good selection of both upbeat material and ballads that seemed to be the start of a bright career for the young singer. However, the album didn't go anywhere, and it was five years before Clemmons' follow up disc, This Is Love, was released, featuring a remake of Sister Sledge's "BYOB" that barely squeaked onto the charts. The album came and went without notice, and Clemmons' solo recording career was essentially done.
Though the masses never became familiar Angela Clemmons, other singers knew a good thing when they heard it, and she (both using her maiden name as well as her married name Angela Clemmons-Patrick), established a solid career as a backing vocalist for such stars as Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper, Donald Fagan (of Steely Dan), Jewel, Vanessa Williams and George Benson. She also performed in the Elton John/Tim Rice Broadway play Aida.
Clemmons raised her family and settled back in her native Connecticut. She is now single again and works in real estate, while using her musical gift to perform as well as to direct Shoreline Soul, an organization conducting community gospel workshops. Fans can hear some of her more recent recordings on her MySpace page. And more than three decades after Angela Clemmons was first featured in Billboard, her voice still dazzles.
by Chris Rizik
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