Loleatta Holloway (b. November 5, 1946 - d. March 21, 2011) Interview with the gospel turned Disco singer known for her work on the Salsoul record label and numerous Vince Montana disco productions. She talks about her career, Dan Hartmen and others as well as the shady music business practices like Black Box lifting her vocals. She is interviewed by DiscoMusic.com member Dayna Newman.
Loleatta Holloway in Her Own Words
Dayna Newman: Hi Loleatta, Thank you for your time and your spirit. I have some questions that I and some of your fans from DiscoMusic.com would love to ask you.
Girl, I heard you tore the roof off of "Splash" the other week, Lady Bunny and I are very good friends, and she as well as Ron Richardson said you were on FIRE. When you did One Out Broken Heart you were beating on tables, and the floor.
Does the atmosphere have a lot to do with your energy level at a gig or is it just programmed into you after being in the business for the length of time you've been in it?
Loleatta Holloway: Oh thank you darling, and the energy has everything to do with it, I play off the energy, and it really gets me going. I had a great time at that gig.
Miss Loleatta, as you know I run your MySpace page and I have to tell you that I have never seen anyone with such devoted fans, and I've dealt with lots of other artist's fans. The love they show is amazing. How does it make you feel to know that you are so loved and idolized?
It feels great. I thought the children had forgot about me, with me going off to Japan and things like that.
Oh trust me girl, the children have most definitely not forgotten about you. You're a legend and one of the most distinctive voices in the music history.
That's good to know-that makes me happy. Thank you for saying so.
I have to give it up for Mr. Ron Richardson (Loleatta's manager), he is an amazing person and we have a kiki when we blow up the phone. He has to be fun to work with?
Oh, I love Ron. I don't talk to anyone on the phone as long as I do with Ron, we laugh and carry on, I have really grown to love him.
The Making of Love Sensation
I have to ask you about working with Dan Hartman, How was that experience for you, and even though he is not with us anymore, the record you did together as well as his other work including producing the mega hit Love Sensation will keep him with us forever. Did you and he have a special bond?
Oh yes, we had a very special bond. When he first came to me with Relight My Fire, he had a choice of using Bette Midler, Patti Labelle or me, he chose me obviously. He told me that he heard Hit and Run and said "I have to have Loleatta Holloway."
And with Love Sensation he [Hartman] showed me the song and then we went into the studio. It was the hardest song I have ever sang, I had to do it 29 times. I had to do it so many times that I lost my voice. I couldn't even talk the second day so I told him to get me some Vicks VaporRub, and I swallowed it with some coffee and that's how I was able to hold that note so long!
I know you were working girl. (both laughing) Because that song is off the charts hot.
When I say Vince Montana Jr., what words come to mind?
Runaway. Vince was really cool, I never had a problem with any of my producers, they kind of let me take the reins.
DiscoMusic.com member and forum moderator, Johan a.k.a. Videoskooter would like to ask, if while recording all your fabulous tracks, would you imagine so many years later they would still be packing dance floors, and you would be basically designated as "THE VOICE?" Oh, he sends a big kiss to you as well, and he's fine too. [both L.O.L.]
For real? No, I would have never thought so. I never thought of myself as a good singer.
GIRL... OMG! You have such a clear voice with so much range.
When I was five years old, I started singing in church and I hated my voice because I sounded like a grown woman—not a child. I was ashamed of it. I have always loved to listen to people sing and never thought of myself as a singer. That's why I don't have that jealousy issue that a lot of artists have.
How was it working with Norman Harris on the legendary Hit and Run? That song still makes me weak.
It was beautiful, Norman was like a baby. But when I sang Hit and Run I said: "this is the longest song I have ever heard" (both of us laughing). You know it was disco and that song was long! It took us three days in the studio.
How was it working on Good Vibrations with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? How did you resist grabbing Mark Walbergs booty lol? I would have had to get me a good feel.
[both laughing] I'm a leave that alone, They really don't talk about that song anymore.
Oh I see, because Mark Walberg is a big movie star now he thinks he can erase it just like that. WELL, he can't take away the fact that you laid down some fierce vocals on it, and he never will be able to.
When they did the video the first time I was in it, everything was in black and white, but I was in color singing. They re-did the video and took me out all, but for a second—where I flash on the screen. If you blink, you will miss me.
That's a travesty.
I Love Crash Goes Love. Was that what you would call freestyle? It had that Latin Miami freestlye vibe to it and I must say that I love that vibe.
Oh, I dont know what it was, but I do know that the first day they gave me that song they said: "Come on Loleatta, and get in here, and let's just hear a little bit of how it might sound." I said I have to take it home and learn it first, and they said why don't you just try it. So I got in the recording booth, and I sang it and they said: "That's it, we have what we need." I got that song in one take.
I'm scared of you. [both L.O.L.]
Who are your favorite artists to work with? I know not all are a good time waiting to be had "TRUST."
I don't mess with a lot of people. I go to my dressing room, and mind my business. I finish mine, and I'm gone. I have always had kids so I had to get my rest on. Or go shopping—I LOVE to shop, and I used to give fierce parties that would go on for days.
Men dressed like mermaids and oh all kinds of carrying on, and if I have to get in something I use what's called the LONG SPOON. That way you can stir and not get caught.
I ain't mad at ya [both L.O.L.] but I was "ROTF" @ The Long Spoon. Girl I need to get me one of those long spoon's mines too short. I always get caught stirring the sh*t.
I love working with Melba Moore. I'm very comfortable working with her plus I love to hear her sing. That lady is a worker. I use to work with the caravan and listen to Aretha Franklin and other artist as well. I love listening to other people sing.
If you could only use one song to define your career, what song would it be?
Love Sensation. That song has been sampled so many times. Madonna was the first to sample it. I was sitting in the theater watching Toys with Robin Williams and he was playing with some kind of box, and all of a sudden, I thought I heard my voice coming through it, and I thought, well maybe it isn't me, but he pushed it again, and again, and it was defiantly me singing Love Sensation, but in different parts, not in order.
Loleatta you don't seem to slow down girl. What do you think the secret to your longevity is, besides the fact that your fans are always begging for more?
Amen. Tom Moulton wanted me to tell you hello. Oh, as well as Evelyn "Champagne" King, Taana Gardner, Linda Clifford, Carol Williams, Ultra Nate, Colonel Abrams, Dimitri from Paris, Donna McGhee, and countless others. They send messages via your MySpace page.
Oh really? That's so nice. I haven't talked to Tom (Moulton) in so long. Tell him I said hello as well as the rest of them.
Loleatta Holloway on Black Box and other Shady Business Practices in the Music Industry
I have heard a lot of shady business about black entertainers, and royalty checks... Did you have any problems with getting your royalty checks, and was it different for white artists?
Show me the first white person that said "I didn't get a royalty check?" They're mostly quiet about it so not to cause an uproar. I have not received one check that said ROYALTY on it!
The way the black artists really made our money was the gigs. And all these records I have? Please. And when Black Box did Ride On Time they used a skinny drag queen as the so called "lead singer," and they even went on Soul Train. Those people at Soul Train knew that was me singing that song, they sold me out. They were perpetrating!
There was a venue that had Black Box perform one night, and then me the next week as the voice of Black Box—and they paid THEM more than ME!
I'm shocked, but then again I have heard this from Taana Gardner and others as well. Mel Cheren from West End Records never gave Taana what she was owed either from what she told me. I just don't understand how people get treated this way.
They don't care. People don't care Dayna.
Well I am going to do my best to see what I can do as far as at least letting it be known that it's so lopsided, and shady.
DiscoMusic.com member Discodisc, would like me to ask you: what your favorite songs from your Aware recordings are?
I don't have them near me, but I love the ballads, Disco was the thing, so people really didn't mess with the ballads.
Do you have any new projects in the works that we can look forward to?
I always have something up my sleeve...
[Loleatta then tells me a couple of things that aren't out of the box yet.]
Sounds fabulous. Thank you Loleatta and I love you.
I love you too baby.
© 2009 Dayna Newman
We regret to report that Loleatta Holloway has passed away on March 21, 2011. Our condolences to her family, friends and fans. See the New York Times obituary link below for more information.
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