R.I.P. singer supreme Sharon Paige of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes

(July 5, 2020) We are very sad to report tonight the death of another soul music warrior, the great Sharon Paige, who came to fame as a singer who worked with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, particularly on the memorable ballad, “I Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.” While not a permanent member of the Blue Notes, Paige was a frequent collaborator who took on a larger role after the departure of lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.

(July 5, 2020) We are very sad to report tonight the death of another soul music warrior, the great Sharon Paige, who came to fame as a singer who worked with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, particularly on the memorable ballad, “I Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.” While not a permanent member of the Blue Notes, Paige was a frequent collaborator who took on a larger role after the departure of lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.

Legendary Philadelphia music men Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who produced Paige's work with the Blue Notes, issued the following statement: “Sharon possessed one of the most unique female vocals that blended perfectly with the smooth singing and vocal prowess of Harold Melvin and Teddy Pendergrass. We really enjoyed recording Sharon with the group and felt she was a great asset, both for the successful launch of the act and for being a great talent in her own right. She will always be remembered as Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (featuring the lovely Ms. Sharon Paige). We send our sincere condolences to her family and fans.”

While casual Soul Music fans associate Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes solely with the classic period of their association with Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records from 1972-76, the group had been around in Philadelphia for twenty years before hooking up with PIR.  With Melvin as lead vocalist and principal songwriter, the group, with various personnel changes, remained principally a regional act in the 50s and 60s, scoring only a few minor Soul hits.  

Then in the late 60s Melvin discovered Theodore (Teddy) Pendergrass, a young drummer for the Cadillacs, and recruited him as a member of the Blue Notes' backing band.  Ultimately Teddy's vocal talents led him into the group as its lead singer and brought the group to the attention of the blazing hot songwriters/producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who signed the group to their PIR label in 1971.  Success was immediate, as the group scored on two smash ballads in 1972, "I Miss You" (later covered by David Ruffin) and the now classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now" (later taken to #1 by Simply Red).  With the latter release Pendergrass quickly emerged as one of the bright young stars of Soul Music, with his distinctive sexy, growling voice ripping through Gamble & Huff's highly orchestrated, sophisticated material.  1973 brought the group its first dance hit, "The Love I Lost," and another smash album. 

By 1975's "Wake Up Everybody" and "Bad Luck," Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were Soul Music royalty, on par with the O'Jays and the Stylistics. And when the group looked for a partner to sing with Pendergrass. Paige was usually there, her beautiful tones helping to land the hit “I Hope That We Can Be Together Soon,” as well as other cuts such as "You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good" and "I'm Searching For A Love."

In 1976, Pendergrass left the group for what would be a very successful solo career, and the hits slowed down dramatically for the group. Paige took a more prominent role on the second post-Pendergrass LP, 1980's The Blue Album, but it barely charted. Paige also released a few solo songs, including the beautiful “You Don’t Even Know My Name.”

When Melvin died in 1997, the group continued on under the leadership of his daughter Trudy, under the name Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes. Paige continued to perform now and again in a cameo role in the group.

Though her talent was much greater than her notoriety, Sharon Paige left us some real musical gems. May she rest in peace.

By Chris Rizik

 

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