Stephanie Mills Biography

22 March 1957, Brooklyn, New York, USA. Mills found early fame at the age of nine, winning an influential talent show at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theatre for six weeks running. Soon afterwards, she appeared on Broadway in the play Maggie Flynn. She toured with the Isley Brothers, and in 1973, recorded her debut, Movin’ In The Right Direction, for the Paramount label. Her debut single - ‘I Knew It Was Love’ - was issued in 1974. Already an established performer, Mills was still in her teens when, in 1975, she was offered the part of Dorothy in the stage show The Wiz, an all-black reworking of The Wizard Of Oz. Mills retained the role for several years, but she lost the part in the movie version to Diana Ross. During her run in the show, Mills was recommended to Motown Records’ Berry Gordy by Jermaine Jackson. For The First Time was written and produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, but following its release Motown chose not to continue its association with Mills. She signed to 20th Century for three albums, the second of which spawned the US/UK Top 10 hit ‘Never Knew Love Like This Before’ in 1980. That same year, Mills married Jeffrey Daniels of Shalamar, though the marriage was short-lived. After working with Teddy Pendergrass on 1981’s US Top 40 duet ‘Two Hearts’, Mills signed a new contract with Casablanca, and in 1983, received her own daytime television show on NBC. She reclaimed her role as Dorothy in a revival of The Wiz and had a minor US hit with ‘The Medicine Song’ from I’ve Got The Cure. This album was produced by David ‘Hawk’ Wolinski, formerly with Rufus. In 1985 she moved to MCA, where she enjoyed further hits including ‘Stand Back’ and ‘Comfort Of A Man’, and released the gold album Home. Following her final set for MCA, 1992’s Something Real, Mills released 1995’s belting gospel album, Personal Inspirations.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.