Performing Live: Evelyn Champagne King

Evelyn “Champagne” King (born July 1st, 1960) became a disco sensation in the 1970s and ’80s, finding a string of hits that displayed her powerful vocal talents.

Hailing from the Bronx, New York, US, Evelyn “Champagne” King came from a showbiz family, with her uncle being the actor and singer Avon Long and father, Erik King, a popular vocalist in New York City, US. King moved to Philadelphia, US, with her mother in her teens, with the pair getting jobs as cleaning women, whilst still sharing a passion for singing and music.

King was to gain her break into the musical world through a fortunate coincidence. King and her mother were working at Philadelphia International Records’ studio, performing their cleaning duties, when producer T. Life overheard King singing from the washroom. Following this powerful voice, he found 16-year old King to be the source, quickly signing the young artist with a production deal and a contract with RCA.

WIth Life as producer, the pair got to work on her first recordings, with the result being “Dancin’ Dancin’ Dancin’.” By 1977, they had enough material for an album, releasing “Smooth Talk” that same year. The single “Shame” was to be her career-launching single, gaining widespread airplay as well as breaking into the Top Ten of the R&B and Pop charts. The second single, “I Don’t Know If It’s Right” in 1978 found further success, selling Gold and reaching number seven in the R&B charts. The album went on to be a huge success, with this production partnership continuing for two more albums, “T. Life: Music Box” and “Call on Me.”

In the early 1980s, King left Life for the producer Kashif, soon finding two number one hits with the singles, “I’m in Love” and “Love Come Down.” Her albums continued to place highly in the charts, with 1982’s “Get Loose” selling double-Platinum, garnering attention from EMI Records, who signed King in 1988. King worked with Leon F. Sylvers III on “Flirt” that same year, which reached number 20 in the R&B charts. “The Girl Next Door” followed in 1989 but failed to live up to the same commercial success.

In 1995, she signed with British label, Expansion, releasing “I’ll Keep a Light On” which featured the musicians Larry Graham, Jeff Lorber and Paul Jackson Jr. King then took a long break from recording music, not returning to the studio until 2007, releasing “Open Book.” Between these years a Greatest Hits album was released in 2001, celebrating King’s musical efforts. Following her 2007 album, King released two singles since, with 2008’s “The Dance” and 2011’s “Everybody,” featuring Miguel Migs.

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