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Norma Jean Wright

Other performers on the "Norma Jean" album:
Nile Rodgers (rhythm guitar), Bernard Edwards (bass), Tony Thompson (drums), Raymond Jones (piano), Sammy Figueroa (percussion), David Friedman (vibes),
Jon Faddis (trumpet), Alex Foster (tenor saxophone), Barry Rodgers (trombone), Robb Sabino (acoustic piano), Gene Orloff (string contractor), Luther Vandross (background vocals), Alfa Anderson (background vocals), David Lasley (background vocals), Diva Gray (background vocals)

Vocalist Norma Jean Wright, a native of Elyria, Ohio, was named the Top New Vocalist of 1977 by Billboard Magazine for the talent she brought to the popular band Chic. The Chic song "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" reached into the top 10 of both the Pop and R&B Billboard charts in early 1978.

Norma left Chic in late-1977 in order to pursue a solo career. While her album "Norma Jean", released in July 1978 by Bearsville Records, was not a big commercial success, it did produce two important singles, "Saturday" and "Sorcerer". "Saturday" was named by Newsweek as the song that represented the disco lifestyle. The 1979 songs "Hold Me Lonely Boy" and "High Society" were intended to be part of a second full Norma Jean album, but this album never materialized.

Three Norma Jean Wright singles were released in the 1980s. These were "Love Attack" (Mirage, 1983), "Shot in the Dark" (MCA Records, 1984), and "Every Bit of This Love" (MCA Records, 1985).

Norma was a background singer on many other important and groundbreaking albums of the 1970s and 1980s. She sang in Sister Sledge's 1979 multi-platinum disco album "We Are Family", which included famous songs like "He's the Greatest Dancer", "One More Time", "Thinking of You", and "We Are Family". In 1980, Norma provided background vocals for the group Fantasy on the song "You're Too Late", which topped the disco charts in January and February of 1981. Then she sang on Luther Vandross's 1981 debut solo album "Never Too Much", which sold over 2 million copies and topped the R&B charts with the superb song "Never Too Much". She joined Luther again on his next album, "Forever, For Always, For Love" (1982). She was also a vocalist on 1982's synth-dance record "Jump to It" by Aretha Franklin, which Luther produced. Another 1982 pop/dance album on which Norma sang was "Sex and Material Possessions" by Fantasy, released by Pavillion Records. A year later, she sang on Madonna's dance album "Madonna", released in 1983. This album included the hit single "Holiday". You can also find Norma singing background vocals on the 1986 album "Abstract Emotions" by Randy Crawford. Then she sang on the 1988 album "Will Downing", which featured Will Downing on keyboards, drums, and vocal tracks. During the same period her background vocals appeared on the rock/blues/pop album "Henry Lee Summer" (1987/1988) by vocalist Summer. Another project she backed was Constina's 1989 self-titled album, a Columbia release that included the song "Are You Lonely Tonight". Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue", an August 1987 release on the Atlantic album, included Norma singing with the teen dance-pop idol. She sang background vocals on the dance song "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C&C Music Factory, which was recorded in August 1990 and released later that year. She worked with Nelson Rangell on his jazz/pop album "Nelson Rangell", which was released November 1990 and features Nelson playing the saxophone, flute, and piccolo.

Norma co-wrote the lyrics to the smooth and inspirational soul classic "Risin' to the Top (Give it all You Got)" with Keni Burke and Allan Felder, and Burke recorded it for his April 1982 album "Changes".

From the late-1980s until 1993, Norma joined former Chic electric piano player Raymond Jones to form a group called "State of Art". She appeared on State of Art's 1991 album "Community", which included the R&B single "Understanding".

Norma Jean Wright has also written and produced for other singers. For instance, she produced the single "I Likes It" (1994) for Lori Gold, and produced Debelah Morgan's R&B album "Debelah" (1994). During the mid-1990s she remained active as a background vocalist as well, backing the albums "My Temptation" by Vivian Williams (1995), "Ghetto Gothic" by Melvin Van Peebles (1995), "Process of Elimination" by Eric Gable (1994), "Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age" by Public Enemy (1994), "Nick Scotti" by Nick Scotti (1993), "Page One" by Page Morton Black, and Bemshi's debut "Womanchild" (1992). She had also served as arranger and producer for "Process of Elimination". In 1994 she joined fellow Ohio-born singer Ce Ce Peniston on the dance/pop album "Thought 'Ya Knew".

She joined Luci Martin on the track "Let's Bounce" (Groove That Soul Mix), released in May 1997 on the "Love Unlimited" album.

Norma sang "Heart of Stone", co-written by Mark Suozzo and Lou Christie, which was played in a club depicted in the 1998 movie "The Last Days of Disco".

She also joined Romina Johnson and Luci Martin in singing a new cover of Chic's "My Forbidden Lover", which became available in the year 2000.

On December 12, 2000, the "Norma Jean" album was re-released by Sequel Records of the United Kingdom, containing the original 7 tracks plus 5 bonus tracks.

Check out Norma's vocals on the great house song "Get Up" by Maxz Volume, released by Strictly Rhythm in October 2001. Norma's next song was "Dance", which appears on the Raymond Jones album "Intimate", which was released in November 2001. She also sang on "Louder Than Words", released in November 2001 on the 12" Michi Lange "Michi Mini EP Volume 2". In January 2002 a remake of Change's "Paradise" was released by Nervous Records, featuring Norma's vocals along with those of Byron Stingly. Norma and Luci Martin performed live together on March 29, 2003 at the Brighter Days Club in London. A remake of "I Want Your Love" with Norma and Luci Martin on vocals will be out at some point in the future.

In 2004, various dance mixes of "You Lift Me Up", an excellent jazzy song by Norma, were released by Look At You Records. The "Pound Boys Main Mix" is great! The song was co-written by former Chic keyboardist Raymond Jones.

Norma also sang on the Sunburst Band's 2004 album "Until the End of Time".

In July 2005, Chris Cox's house remix of Norma's remake of Chic's "Le Freak", made in collaboration with Luci Martin and the Japanese DJ "GTS", reached number 7 on the Billboard "Hot Dance Music/Club Play" chart in the USA, a week after reaching number 17.


DISCOGRAPHY

Classic Songs:
1978: Saturday, Sorcerer, I Like Love
1979: High Society

Albums:


Norma JeanNorma Jean (1978)
TRACKS:   Saturday (Extended Version)     Having A Party     I Believe In You     Sorcerer (Radio Single Edit)     So I Get Hurt     This is the Love     I Like Love

BONUS TRACKS:   Hold Me Lonely Boy     High Society (Extended Version)     Saturday (Radio Single Edit)     Sorcerer (Extended Version)     Having A Party (Extended Version)

Bearsville "Saturday" and "I Like Love" are typical Chic-style disco anthems, and they are very effective in conveying an exhuberant party atmosphere. "Sorcerer" is a fascinating dance song with special 'mystical' and 'explosive' sound-effects and great guitar and bass playing. "High Society" and "Hold Me Lonely Boy" are sophisticated songs with a different tone from "Saturday" and "I Like Love". "Having A Party" is a cover of Sam Cooke's 1962 classic, and highlights Alex Foster on saxophone. This is the least effective of the dance songs on the album. "I Believe In You", "So I Get Hurt Again", and "This Is the Love" are the album's three ballads, and less exceptional than the dance songs. "I Believe In You" is beautiful and perhaps the most enjoyable of the three ballads. The re-release also contains insightful sleeve-notes by Mojo magazine's Geoff Brown. Overall, this is a great CD that will appeal to those who enjoyed Chic's "I Want Your Love", "Good Times", and "My Forbidden Lover". This is a Chic Organisation album in all but name, since Nile, 'Nard, Tony, Alfa, Norma, and other familiar names from Chic participated in the performances.


Norma Jean Wright Compilations:
  • Nile Rodgers presents The Chic Organization: Boxset Volume 1: Savoir Faire - includes Norma Jean's "Saturday", "Sorcerer", "Hold Me Lonely Boy", and "High Society". Previews of all tracks, and you can order it here from Juno Records in the UK.

    Covers of Norma Jean Wright Songs:

  • "Saturday" by East 57th Street featuring Donna Allen (1997) - house version
  • "Saturday" by "Joey Negro" (Dave Lee) and Taka Boom (2000) - house music single

    Wright-Influenced Songs:

  • "Stand Up" by Kimara Lawson (1999) - based on "Saturday"
  • "The Source" by Scorccio (2000) - fast-paced dance song using a modified "Sorcerer" bassline
  • "Every Woman Needs Love" by Stella Browne (2000) - disco-house song that samples "High Society"
  • "I Like Love (I Love Love)" by Solitaire (2003) - dance song that samples "I Like Love"
  • "Just Can't Wait (Saturday)" by 100 Percent featuring Jennifer John (2004) - samples "Saturday"
  • "For Your Love" by Moony (2006) - electro-dance song that samples "I Like Love"
    HOW TO ORDER YOUR FAVORITE NORMA JEAN WRIGHT SONGS

    CD TITLEMerchant 1Merchant 2Merchant 3Merchant 4Merchant 5
    Norma Jean Amazon.com Amazon.ca iTunes
    Chic Organization Boxset Vol. 1 Amazon.com Amazon.ca Juno.co.uk

    Related links:
    Related artists and bands

  • Chic
  • Sister Sledge
  • Fantasy
  • Change featuring Luther Vandross
  • Sumthing Distribution: Nile Rodgers Musical Biography
  • Nile Rodgers and Chic's Musical Timelines
  • Chic News
  • Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews: Reviews of Chic albums

    Other Norma Jean Wright sites

  • Pocat's Interview with Norma Jean Wright, November 2001
  • Danceclassics.net's Interview with Norma Jean Wright, April 2004
  • Disco Funk: Norma Jean
  • Disco Museum: Norma Jean Wright
  • Deep Groove Encyclopedia: Norma Jean

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