Cheryl Lynn is almost the definition of an underrated R&B artist, a very big talent who has remained active and beloved for nearly four decades. And while she is best known for her across-the-board smash hit, “Got to Be Real,” her career has meant much more.
Lynn’s professional musical journey began in the mid-70s with a role in the traveling company of the play The Wiz. But national audiences got to know her from, oddly enough, an episode of television’s The Gong Show, where she won over the audience (if not the actual contest). She was signed by Columbia Records and was teamed with hot young producer David Paich, a studio veteran and a co-founder of the monster rock band Toto. The result was the album Cheryl Lynn, which stormed onto the charts due to the #1 hit “Got To Be Real,” a funky number that Lynn auspiciously ripped up, immediately making a name for herself as a new vocalist to watch. The following year she returned the favor to Paich, stealing the spotlight on the Toto hit single “George Porgy” with her soaring vocal ad lib.
Lynn scored hits over the next few years, including the top 10 “Shake It Up Tonight” and “Encore,” as well as a brilliant 1982 duet with Luther Vandross on a remake of the Motown classic, “If This World Were Mine.” She scored over a dozen hits over the rest of the decade, though they slowed down by the time of her last top 10 entry, “Everytime I Try To Say Goodbye,” in 1989.
During the 1990s, Lynn served mostly as a background singer on a number of notable albums before teaming with Teddy Riley on the album Good Time, which was not released in the US but which is still popular among fans around the world.
Lynn has spent most of the 21st Century continuing session work with other artists while also performing periodically as a headliner. In March 2014,
As soul music fans look back on R&B music of the 70s and 80s, Cheryl Lynn, with her deep, expressive, powerful voice, will continue to stand out as one of the period’s great singers, who appeared comfortable singing everything from straight up funk and rock to the most intimate of ballads. She is a talent to be cherished by soul music lovers.
By Chris Rizik