Did success come to Deniece Williams too much, too little, too late? Let’s hear it for Deniece!
June Chandler is hardly an electric name for a singer, so perhaps it was wise for Indiana born June to make her stage name Deniece Williams. She made her debut in 1968 aged 17 years old but it would take a decade and a number of singles before she achieved mainstream success with the song “Free” in 1976. Deniece worked hard in those early years, both on her own and as part of the female vocal group The Lovelites. She worked as a backing singer for Stevie Wonder in the early 70’s and it was here that she was talent spotted and singed on her own merit to Columbia Records. With plenty of publicity now behind her, “Free” became a big hit internationally, topping the UK singles chart. It peaked at No.25 in America and No.2 on the R&B chart.
Deniece achieved a further UK top ten hit with “That’s What Friends Are For” (not the Dionne Warwick number) in 1977 (UK No.8) while her debut album, “This Is Niecy”, found success on both sides of the Atlantic. 1977 saw the release of “Baby, Baby My Love’s All for You” and her second album, “Song Bird”, which continued the success in the UK, while in early 1978, Deniece hooked up with Johnny Mathis for the duet “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”, which took her to the very top of the US singles chart and around the world (UK No.3). Deniece went on to record a whole album with Johnny, “That’s What Friends Are For”, which featured two further single releases during 1978. The album gained Gold certificates in both the US and the UK. Deniece relentlessly pumped out an album roughly every year with “When Love Comes Calling” in 1979 and “My Melody” in 1981 (Gold certified in America).
Deniece went with the ever changing musical styles from Soul to Disco and eventually to Pop. Her 1982 album, “Niecy”, produced the top ten hit “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle”, which brought Deniece her first Grammy nomination. During the next decade, the 1980’s, she would be nominated no fewer than eight times, winning on two occasions. Deniece reunited with Johnny Mathis in 1983 for the song “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” from his own album, “A Special Part Of Me”, while 1984 would put Deniece back on top when her song “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” was featured in the film ‘Footloose’. The song put her back at number one in America and No.2 in the UK and made the top ten in over twenty other countries, becoming one of the biggest sellers of the year. Her album of the same name was also a commercial success, but would end up being her last for Columbia as in 1985, Deniece left to explore other avenues.
She moved from pop to R&B with her next album, “So Glad I Know”, in 1986 while the late 80’s saw her record Jazz and Gospel albums with her final singles chart entry coming with “I Can’t Wait” in 1988. Deniece has continued to record and release albums on independent labels ever since, her most recent being “Love, Niecy Style” in 2007. She established an academy for young musicians and singers in 2008 while 2011 saw her as one of many guest singers on British performer Cliff Richard’s album “Soulicious”. In 2020, after a gap of over twenty years, she released a new single, “When You Love Somebody” and the following year, a new EP of recordings called “Gemini”. Deniece makes regular appearances and guest spots on stage and at concerts and remains active in the industry which she has been part of for more than fifty years.
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