The Ritchie Family

The Ritchie Family

Perhaps best known for the crossover hit, “The Best Disco In Town,” The Ritchie Family was one of the top dance acts of the late 70s and early 80s. Created by legendary disco producer Jacques Morali, the act originally consisted of Cassandra Ann Wooten, Gwendolyn Oliver and Cheryl Mason Jacks.

The trio shot to the top of the dance charts with their 1975 debut song, “Brazil.” It began a string of dance hits, many of which crossed over to the R&B charts. “The Best Disco In Town” was the biggest, an attractive medley of current hits that was dynamite on radio and at dances. As with many other disco hits, the songs were of ponderous length and were largely built for the clubs.

Group members were not typically spotlighted as individuals, and thus there was a rotating string of performers, including Jacqui Smith-Lee, Theodosia "Dodie" Draher and Ednah Holt, Vera Brown, after Linda James. The group split in the early 80s when Morali became ill.

Earlier this decade, Wooten and Mason-Dorman obtained the rights to The Ritchie Family name, and now perform new member Renee Guilory-Wearing. This version of the act recorded the single “Ice” in 2016, becoming the first chart hit by The Ritchie Family in three decades. And later in 2019, the Ritchie Family will receive The Legends of Vinyl award, as well as the Unsung award of The National R&B Society.

By Chris Rizik

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