R.I.P. former Motown singer Frances Nero

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    We are sad to report the death of former Motown singer Frances Nero (born Willie Frances Peak) at the age of 71. She was best known for a hit she recorded more than two decades after she left Motown, “Footsteps Following Me.”

    We are sad to report the death of former Motown singer Frances Nero (born Willie Frances Peak) at the age of 71. She was best known for a hit she recorded more than two decades after she left Motown, “Footsteps Following Me.”

    Frances Peak was born in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1960, she married Detroit, Michigan native Johnny Nero and moved to the city. She almost joined The Marvelettes, but returned to Asheville for a time before going back to Detroit and settling into married life. She had two children, and sang jazz in nightclubs, before entering a talent contest on WCHB, the soul radio station in Detroit, sponsored by Motown. She became the first live performance winner in Motown Records' history, emerging the winner out of 5,000 contestants in June 1965. She was awarded $500, a dozen long stemmed red roses, a recording contract for one year and the honor of being the first female artist signed to Motown's subsidiary Soul label. Her first record release was "Keep On Lovin' Me", written by William Weatherspoon and James Dean, and originally intended for The Marvelettes. It was produced by William "Mickey" Stevenson, and released by Soul in early 1966. However, it was not a major hit. She made no further recordings with Motown, and left the company after three years.

    After leaving Motown, Nero made further recordings with Raynoma Gordy and Gino Parks at Shrine Records, which went unreleased. In the 1970s she cared for her mother until her death, and went to cosmetology school. She then began teaching the beauty trade, and worked on fashion shows, script writing and other businesses. In 1989, she was contacted by Ian Levine, a British record producer and promoter of Northern soul music, and they recorded "Footsteps Following Me," written by Levine with Ivy Jo Hunter and Steven Wagner. The single reached #17 in the UK Singles Chart in 1991, and was dubbed by British disc jockeys "the soul anthem of the nineties".  She made further recordings with Gino Parks, and released an album, Out On The Floor, on Levine's Motorcity label.

    She formed her own record label, AJA Records, and released a single in 1996, "Love Ride". A CD compilation of her recordings with Levine, The Very Best of Frances Nero, was issued in the US. In 2006, she issued a DVD autobiography, Mountains, Motown & Motion Pictures, and in 2007 AJA released a CD, Frances Nero Salutes Dinah Washington.

    She will be missed.

    Thanks to Gary Van den Bussche of Disco, Soul, Gold

    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article  Frances Nero

     
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