The Chantels Biography

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Regarded as the first true ‘girl group’, this New York vocal quintet - Arlene Smith (5 October 1941, New York, USA), Sonia Goring, Rene Minus, Lois Harris and Jackie Landry - were all members of a high-school choir when they auditioned for producer Richard Barrett in 1957. The group made its recording debut for End Records with ‘He’s Gone’ following two months of rehearsal, and this plaintive offering set the tone for the Chantels’ subsequent work. Their impassioned style culminated with ‘Maybe’, wherein Smith’s heart-wrenching plea carried an inordinate passion. Barely 16 years old on its release, the singer’s emotional delivery belied her youth. The single reputedly sold in excess of one million copies and reached R&B number 2 and the pop Top 20, but pirated pressings were prevalent in many American states, undermining the group’s potential. Subsequent releases failed to match its quality and the Chantels grew disenchanted with their management and label. Harris had already dropped out of the line-up and Smith embarked on a solo career under the tutelage of Phil Spector, while Barrett continued to produce the remaining trio with different singers in place of the former vocalist. The Chantels enjoyed two further US Top 30 pop hits with ‘Look In My Eyes’ and ‘Well I Told You’, but they lacked the distinctiveness of the earlier releases.

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

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