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    Vesta Williams

    Become fan 3 Rate 0 Like & Share
    Genre:R&B, Soul
    Rank:1146 history »
    /5 from 0 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    6,641 4.7/5
    Sweet, Sweet Love lyrics
    Special lyrics
    3Best I Ever Had lyrics
    4Hunger lyrics
    5Congratulations lyrics
    4 U lyrics
    7Do Ya lyrics
    Don't Blow A Good Thing lyrics
    9My Heart Is Yours lyrics
    10Once Bitten Twice Shy lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    Vesta 4 U [1988]
    Vesta [1986]
    Distant Lover [2007]
    4Relationships [1998]
    5Everything -N- More [1993]
    6Special [1991]


    Though diminutive, the singer now simply known as Vesta, possesses one of the biggest and brassiest voices in R&B and Contemporary Jazz. Vesta's story begins in Coshocton, Ohio (about 40 miles east of Columbus), where she was born in 1963, and she began to distinguish herself as an entertainer at an early age. As the daughter of a radio disc jockey, a young Vesta moved with her family to the Los Angeles area during the mid 1960s, and with her Sisters, appeared on the TV show 'Jack & Jill', as 'The Williams Sisters'. During her high school years, Vesta continued to sing and experimented with comedy routines. After she graduated from high school in 1970, Vesta continued to sing in addition to working full time, and she eventually moved back to Ohio in 1977. Upon returning to her home state, Vesta continued to sing with her cousin's group, Wild Honey. Vesta's Cousin, the late Ron Townsend, was a former member of the 60's & 70's supergroup '5th Dimension', and she soon gained more experience and invaluable exposure during the mid 70's. Vesta's tenure with Wild Honey, made it possible to persue a solo career, and with her passion now her profession, she became one of the industry's most sought-after studio singers. Before Vesta's debut as a solo recording artist, she paid her dues singing commercial jingles for Mcdonald's, Diet Coke, Honda and Revlon Cosmetics among others. This 'commercial recognition' eventually lead to important session work for Vesta throughout the years, where she would eventually provide background vocals for Anita Baker ('Rapture'), Jermaine Jackson ('Precious Moments'), Jeffrey Osborne ('Emotional'), Stephanie Mills ('If I Were Your Woman'), Gladys Knight ('Good Woman'), and Sting ('Nothing Like The Sun') among many others! This exposure for Vesta also prompted Chaka Khan to hire her as a vocalist during the early 1980's. It's been rumored that Vesta recorded background vocals for Chaka, but they've only worked together during live concerts. Chaka Khan is notorious for recording her own backgrounds, and since Vesta's fire was a close match, it was a no brainer to have Williams on tour.

    After touring with Chaka during the early 1980's, Vesta met producer David Crawford through Joe Sample (pianist of the Jazz Crusaders), for whom she'd recorded the original vocals for 'The Survivor' in 1984. For some reason, Vesta's vocals were replaced with Phyllis Hyman's, and it was probably because MCA wanted to attach an established name with Sample's 'Oasis' album (1985).

    Following her productive meeting with Crawford, Vesta soon signed a record contract with A&M Records in 1986, which resulted in four releases. With her self-titled debut, 'Vesta' (1986), Williams sang her heart out on the album's eleven songs, which were produced by Bryan Loren, Gary Taylor, and of course, David Crawford among others. Popular singles included 'Once Bitten Twice Shy' (#9 R&B in '86), 'Don't Blow A Good Thing' (#17 R&B in '87), and 'Something About You' (#46 R&B in '87). Imported Editions of 'Vesta' include a bonus track ('Suddenly It's Magic'), which also appears on the 1986 soundtrack for 'Soul Man'. 'Vesta' was popular among R&B fans, and tracks like 'It's You' & 'I'm Coming Back' (a hit remake for Lalah Hathaway in 1990!) illustrated a softer side of Williams. With marginal successful singles, Vesta's debut barely made a dent in the market (peaked at #46 R&B on Billboard), but her talents could not be denied. Vesta Williams was a musical force to be acknowledged!

    Following a marginally successful debut, Vesta returned to the studio with a batch of songs penned by Attala Zane Giles, Eric Daniels, Tena Clark, Prim, Billy Osbourne, and herself. These fruitful sessions resulted in the 'Vesta 4 U' CD (1988, A&M). The first two singles 'Sweet, Sweet Love' (#4 R&B in '88) & 'Congratulations' (#5 R&B/#55 Pop in '89) received massive airplay, and Vesta's popularity soared consequently. 'Sweet, Sweet Love' was often mistaken for a new Chaka Khan song because Vesta's fiery delivery beared such a close resemblance, but it was all good in the end! A few other singles followed, and as audiences became introduced to her multi-octave voice, they also got a glimpse of her comedic talents. When asked (during an appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show in '89) if she had written 'Congratulations' based on personal experience, the songstress replied "Oh No Honey!! If that ever happened to me, I'd probably burn the church down, or something". Following spots on the popular Arsenio Hall Show & others throughout 1989, promotion for the 'Vesta 4 U' album tapered off, and the final single releases were 'For You' (#9 R&B in '89) & 'How You Feel' (#70 R&B in '89). Vesta had finally arrived in 1989, and she became a popular vocalist for jazz artists like saxophonist Najee. Najee's classic 'Tokyo Blue' (1990, EMI) CD features a stunning lead vocal by Vesta on the track 'I'll Be Good To You', which can be described as an awesome tour de force duet of Williams' intense vocals & the passionate soprano saxophone.

    With a gold selling album ('Vesta 4 U'), and a few more hits under her belt, it was time for Vesta to return to the studio in 1990, and her new legion of fans couldn't be happier. Before the sessions began, Vesta decided to play it safe & retain songwriters & producers from the previous CD, and the resulting 'Special' CD (#15 R&B in '91) was a nice collection of songs. The first single ('Do Ya') was a dance track that was standard fare for the time, but second single & title track from 'Special' would become Vesta's biggest hit, peaking at #2 on Billboard's R&B Singles Chart in 1991. Vesta's third album also included more ballads, with 'I Don't Wanna Cry Anymore', 'Person To Person', and 'Where Does The Love Go ?', and 'I Promise Love' being major highlights. Vesta's vocal range was in full bloom on the many ballads, but she also included a few dance tracks ('TLC' & 'Don't Trip') for good measure. With 'Special', Vesta continued to develop as a complete artist by contributing as both a songwriter and producer. In retrospect, it can be said that Vesta built upon her best songs from the first 2 albums to create a sound & formula for future projects.

    Vesta's success reached new heights in 1991 with 'Special', and suprising changes would take place when it was time for her to record the follow up titled 'Everything-n-More' (1993, A&M). Attala Zane Giles, who wrote & produced most of the songs from 'Vesta 4 U' & 'Special' didn't contribute to the new project. Instaed of Giles, Vesta was produced by Rex Silas, Brian McKnight, Marc Gordon, Michael Powell, and Chuckii Booker among others, and the resulting CD seemed like an attempt by A&M to make Vesta sound more contemporary, which was a huge mistake. 'Everything-n-More' (#65 R&B in '93) would be Vesta's final A&M project, but it did have a few bright moments, with most of them being ballads. The single, 'Always' (#44 R&B in '93) was classic Vesta with great production from Michael Powell. Another highlight is the jazzy 'Tell Me', which featured members of Fourplay (Nathan East & Harvey Mason), and was also on the sountrack CD for 'Posse'. Vesta also portrayed Vera in 'Posse' (a Mario Van Peebles film). Vera was a 'Mae West-like saloon singer' who could cuss you out, but was very caring at the same time.

    Vesta parted ways with A&M shortly after 'Everything-n-More' failed to generate sufficient business, so her search for a new label would begin, and last almost 5 years. During her time as a free agent singer, Vesta remained busy singing on CDs by Gerald Albright ('Smooth'), George Duke ('Is Love Enough ?'), Howard Hewett ('It's Time'), and Christian McBride ('Family Affair').

    After leaving A&M, Vesta then signed with MCA Records and actually recorded a full-length CD. The CD was scheduled for release during 1995 and MCA even included a cut from the project on one of their sampler CDs of new music back for that year. Vesta was ready to move on with an entire CD of new material, but for reasons unknown, MCA dropped her and shelved the CD. As of 2005, Vesta's recordings from 1995 remain unreleased, and will probably never see the light of day.

    Following a 1997 tour with Fourplay, Vesta found a label that would be interested in her talents. Vesta - "I did the Fourplay tour, and in the interim, made some really good friends in the band. Lee Ritenour and I really hit it off, so he started calling me to work on other projects like saxophonist Eric Marienthal record 'Easy Street' (1997, Polygram). I did a cover of the Aretha Franklin tune, 'Til You Come Back To Me'. Soon he started telling me about this label he was putting together." With the sense of stability Ritenour's label promised, coupled with a sincere interest in and attention to her career, was Vesta more than eager to sign on with Ritenour's then new I.E. inprint at Polygram. Vesta - "I was excited about being a priority at a label!"

    Vesta's tenure at I.E./Polygram marked her return to recording, and her fans were more than ready to support the long awaited debut for the label, 'Relationships' (1998). Vesta was excited about the new project because it was her first concept album, and many fans enjoyed the focus that the new CD presented. Unlike the uneven 'Everything-n-More', which covered all types of sounds & styles of music, 'Relationships' turned out to be a more mature effort. 'Relationships' is a collection of 11 mostly original songs (including Vesta's sizzling rendition of Stevie Wonder's 'You & I'), and as a concept CD, traces the her personal journey through the sometimes rocky & unpredictable wilderness of relationships. Vesta performed both lead & background vocals on all of the tracks (ala Chaka!), and this gave the listener a greater feeling for the lyrics, while being introduced to a more mature singer (or more accurately, a song stylist!). 'Relationships' eventually recieved mediocre reviews by fans who didn't appreciate Vesta's 'vocal restraint', but many people did in fact enjoy the CD. Vesta has such an impressive vocal range, and she is to be applauded for not wailing at full volume just because she can.

    'Relationships' would eventually peak at #55 on Billboard's R&B Album Chart, which was an improvement over the previous CD, but it would turn out to be Vesta's only project for I.E./Polygram, as the label folded sometime during 1999. Lee Ritenour had ambitious plans for his I.E. inprint at Polygram, but outside of a few releases, it didn't make much of an impact. Once again, Vesta was left without a recording home (or contract), but she continued to provide vocals on other CDs. Christian McBride's 'Family Affair' (1998, Verve) included Vesta singing her heart out on '..Or So You Thought', and this track was definitely the highlight of the George Duke produced CD.

    The following year, guitarist Norman Brown's CD 'Celebration' was released, and initially, it failed to make much of an impact. While people slept on 'Celebration', radio programmers obtained an exclusive vocal remix to one of the album's better songs. The song was titled 'Rain', and the remix featuring Vesta gained rave reviews (& requests!). The track was one of the most requested on contemporary jazz stations, and people demanded to have Vesta's vocal mix, but there was a problem. 'Celebration' was already in stores months before the remix to 'Rain' was released to radio, and copies of the CD were being returned to stores. When fans bought Norman Brown's CD, they just assumed that Vesta would be singing on 'Rain', but it turned out to be the regular instrumental. In an unprecedented move, Warner Brothers re-released 'Celebration', and featured the vocal remix of 'Rain' as a bonus track. To say that Vesta shined on Norman Brown's CD is a vast understatement, and when compared to the original version by S.W.V., fans came to the conclussion that those young girls just couldn't 'SING'. Vesta's powerful stylings from many tracks on 'Relationships' was in full bloom on the vocal remix for 'Rain', and despite renewed popularity, this didn't result in a recording contract.

    More years of touring and guest appearances for Vesta continued, and in 2005 producers Duke Jones & Norman Connors, asked her to contribute to The Cafe Soul All-Stars CD. The project also features a stellar cast of singers & musicians (Peabo Bryson, George Benson, Glenn Jones, Christopher Williams, Roy Ayers, Kenny Garrett, and many others!) performing new material. The resulting CD from The Cafe Soul All-Stars was titled 'Love Pages' (2005, You), and Vesta contributed an inspirational reading of 'One More Bridge To Cross'. This song was a welcome return for the Vesta, but fans are hoping that she would eventually release her follow up to 'Relationships'.

    A true song stylist embraces lyrics as well as the music to convey a meaningful message. Vesta is one of a handful of undervalued stylists, and she is still a headliner at various jazz festivals held throughout the United States & abroad. In addition to a variety of shows, the Los Angeles based Vesta, has been reportedly working on a new project, and over the years, the singer has proven herself to be a talented vocalist, songwriter, (and even a comedian at times). While being without a major recording contract is no laughing matter, Vesta's reputation among many greats in contemporary jazz is quite solid, and until 2006, the singer will remained busy on different fronts.

    In 2006, Vesta inked a deal with Shanachie Records, and recorded her long awaited followup to 'Relationships' titled 'Distant Lover'. Yes, Vesta is indeed on the comeback trail and the new CD will be music to her fan's ears after a 9 year recording hiatus. 'Distant Lover' was finally released during mid January 2007, so buy a copy (or 2!) and support great music.

    Vesta Williams, was found dead Thursday evening (9/22/2011) in an El Segundo (Los Angeles) hotel room. She was 53.

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