AKA Deniece Michele Chandler
Birthplace: Gary, IN
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Let's Hear It For The Boy
As is the case with many R&B singers, Deniece Williams was given her first opportunity to sing in public as a part of the choir for her family's church. As a teenager, she began recording with both the Toddlin' Town and Lock labels in Chicago, but lack of interest in the records convinced Williams to pursue a nursing career instead. Her studies in college did not go particularly smoothly, but this was unexpectedly made irrelevant when a cousin managed to arrange a audition with Stevie Wonder in 1972; shortly afterwards she became a member of his backing band Wonderlove, with whom she would tour and record until 1975.
In 1976 Williams launched her solo career with the release of the single Free on Columbia Records; the single reached number two on the R&B charts, and was quickly followed by her full-length debut This Is Niecy and two more charting singles. Concurrent with her own material, Williams kept an active schedule of writing and session work for other performers. A second album, Songbird, materialized in 1977, but the real breakthrough was made with her 1978 collection of duets with Johnny Mathis, That's What Friends Are For; it's featured single Too Much, Too Little, Too Late would become her first number one hit, and elevate her career to an entirely new level.
A gradual decline in popularity took place between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, but some ground was regained with a version of the song It's Gonna Take A Miracle in 1982. Her comeback continued with the help of George Duke on the following year's I'm So Pround, and reached its peak with the single Let's Hear It For The Boy, featured on the original soundtrack to 1984's epic struggle for freedom on the dance floor Footloose. Eventually she changed her emphasis to the gospel music of her youth, signing with the Sparrow label and releasing So Glad I Know in 1985. The album would earn her two Grammy awards the following year.
After the release of the children's album Lullabies to Dreamland in 1991,
Williams took a hiatus from recording; for the next several years she concentrated on raising her family, and also established a publishing company specializing in children's books. A return to R&B was made in 1996 with Love Solves It All, and another Grammy was awarded for the 1998 gospel record This Is My Song.
Grammy Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female (1986)
Grammy Best Gospel Performance By A Duo Or Group (1986)
Grammy Best Gospel Performance, Female (1987)
Grammy Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album (1998)
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