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Black Box is an Italian house music group popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The members of the group included a trio made up of a club DJ (Daniele Davoli), a classically trained clarinet teacher (Valerio Semplici), and a keyboard and electronic music "wiz" (Mirko Limoni). The group created an image for the Black Box act using French fashion model Katrin Quinol on its album/singles' cover art and supposed lead singer in all of the group's music videos.[1] However, their success quickly turned to infamy when it was revealed that Quinol was lip-syncing to the group's actual recorded vocalist Martha Wash, who sang the majority of the songs on the group's debut album Dreamland.

Black Box
Also known asGroove Groove Melody, Starlight, Mixmaster
GenresItalo house, house, eurodance
Years active1988–present
LabelsRCA, Out, Groove Groove Melody
Associated actsMartha Wash, Loleatta Holloway
MembersCelestine Walcott-Gordon
Daniele Davoli
Valerio Semplici
Mirko Limoni
Past membersKatrin Quinol
Charvoni Woodson


1988–1989: Early beginningsEdit

Daniele Davoli, Valerio Semplici, and Mirko Limoni formed a production team called Starlight (often credited as Starlight Invention Group).[2] The group's first single was a dance single called "Numero Uno", released in 1988. The song was often credited by their other alias Groove Groove Melody. "Numero Uno" peaked at number-nine on the UK Singles chart.[3] In early 1989, they produced a single called "Vocalizado" for Italian singer Robby Magno. In mid-1989, the group released a maxi-single "Airport 89" under the name Wood Allen. The single peaked at number 99 on the UK Singles chart.[4]

1989–1992: DreamlandEdit

Martha Wash (pictured), uncredited female singer of "Everybody Everybody" and five additional songs.

Later that year, the group changed their name to Black Box and began working on their first album. The group also added French Caribbean model Katrin Quinol to the lineup as the group's image and who would go on to lip sync their songs in music videos and on televised performances. In July 1989, Black Box released their single "Ride On Time". The single became an international hit, peaking at number-one in three counties including the UK for which it became UK's best-selling single of 1989, selling over 1.5 million copies worldwide.[5] In November 1989, they released a single "Grand Piano" under the alias Mixmaster. The song peaked at number-nine hit on the UK Singles chart.[6] In December 1989, they released a follow-up single "I Don't Know Anybody Else". The song became an international top-ten hit and gave the group their first number-one song on Billboard's Dance chart.[1][7] In March 1990, they released their third single "Everybody Everybody". Like its predecessors, the song also became an international hit and earned the group their second number-one on the Dance chart.[7] The song has become Black Box's highest charting single to date.

In May 1990, they released their debut album Dreamland. Despite its moderate performance on the charts, the album became certified gold in the United Kingdom and United States.[8][9] In late 1990, the album's fourth single "Fantasy", a cover of the 1978 hit by Earth, Wind & Fire, peaked at number-five on the UK Singles chart and became certified silver in the United Kingdom.[10]

In February 1991, "Strike It Up" was released as the album's fifth single. The song became another international top-ten hit for the group and earned the group their third number-one single on the Dance chart. The album's final singles "Open Your Eyes" and "Hold On" performed fair on the charts. In the same year, Black Box released a re-issue of "Ride on Time" called "Bright on Time". Quinol, who did not contribute vocally or musically to the group, left Black Box in late 1991 after the group became the subject of media backlash involving lip-syncing scandals and lawsuits.

1993–1999: Positive Vibration and lineup changesEdit

In 1993, Black Box added American singer Charvoni Woodson to the lineup. The newly formed group released a single "Rockin' To The Music" which performed poorly on the charts. In 1995, Black Box released their second album Positive Vibration which failed to chart or rise to the level of success as their previous album. The album spawned the singles "Not Anyone" and "A Positive Vibration", both of which performed fair on the charts. In 1997, the album was re-issued with three additional singles: "I Got the Vibration", "Native New Yorker", and "Fall Into My Love".

In April 1998, the group released a compilation album Strike It Up: The Best of Black Box. In June 1998, they released another compilation Hits & Mixes. In 1999, a maxi-single of remixes for "Bright On Time" was exclusively released in France.

2003–present: Recent yearsEdit

Woodson continued touring and performing as the lead vocalist of the group periodically until 2015. In 2015, Celestine Walcott-Gordon began performing live as the new lead vocalist of the group. In 2018, the group released a single "Everyone Will Follow" featuring vocals by Celestine.

Lip-syncing scandals and lawsuitsEdit

In 1990, American singer Loleatta Holloway and American producer Dan Hartman sued Black Box for copyright infringement and unauthorized sampling of Holloway's song "Love Sensation".[11] "Ride on Time" sampled Holloway's song "Love Sensation", which was produced and written by Hartman. Neither Holloway nor Hartman were consulted for permission to sample the song, and Black Box failed to credit Holloway's vocals in the song. Additionally, Black Box had used Quinol to lip-sync Holloway's vocals in the music video for "Ride on Time", which lead the public to believe Quinol was the actual singer. After a lengthy court case, the lawsuit was ruled in favor of Holloway and Hartman. Both received an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.[11] As a result, Black Box re-issued their "Ride on Time" single, which removed Holloway's vocals and featured newly recorded vocals by English singer Heather Small. The group still retained the original version on their re-issued album Dreamland and added Holloway's name as the featured vocalist on "Ride on Time" as well giving Hartman songwriting credits. Black Box would later re-issue another new version of single called "Bright on Time" in 1991.

In September 1990, American singer Martha Wash sued Black Box and RCA Records for commercial appropriation after she became aware of the lip-sync scandal perpetrated by the group.[12] During the record session of their album Dreamland in 1989, Wash was recruited as a session singer to simply demo songs produced by Black Box. Unbeknownst to her, Black Box retained Wash's vocals on a total of six songs including "Everybody Everybody", "Open Your Eyes", "Hold On", "I Don't Know Anybody Else", "Strike It Up", and "Fantasy" on the album Dreamland. Despite Wash's contributions to the songs, Black Box never credited Wash for her vocals and instead used Quinol to lip-sync Wash's vocals during music videos, televised performances, and concert performances. RCA settled the case out-of-court in December 1990, agreeing to pay Wash a "substantial" financial fee.[13] The company also signed her to an eight-album recording contract and financed her national tour.[13] Wash's lawsuit also resulted in federal legislation making vocal credit mandatory for all albums and music videos.[14]


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Dreamland 1 18 35 36 4 8 15 9 14 56
Positive Vibration
  • Released: 23 August 1995
  • Label: Clubstitute
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Compilation albumsEdit

Title Album details
Strike It Up: The Best of Black Box
Hits & Mixes
  • Released: 30 June 1998
  • Label: BMG
  • Formats: CD
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Remix albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Remixland 58
Mixed Up!
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


"Numero Uno"[a] 1988 9 Non-album single
"Airport 89"[b] 1989 99
(featuring Lelewel)
"Ride on Time"
(featuring Loleatta Holloway)
19 2 7 3 5 2 2 1 39 Dreamland
"Grand Piano"[c] 12 9 Non-album single
"I Don't Know Anybody Else"
(featuring Martha Wash)
22 6 9 12 25 8 4 23 1 Dreamland
"Everybody Everybody"
(featuring Martha Wash)
1990 35 39 11 41 16 8 1
(featuring Martha Wash)
3 21 16 5
"The Total Mix" 24 39 12 Remixland
"Megamix" 1991 34 33
"Bright on Time" 48
"Strike It Up"
(featuring Martha Wash)
20 13 26 26 29 16 8 1 Dreamland
"Open Your Eyes"
(featuring Martha Wash)
17 60 45 44 32 48
"Hold On"
(featuring Martha Wash)
"Rockin' to the Music" 1993 103 14 39 Positive Vibration
"Not Anyone" 1995 151 31
"A Positive Vibration" 18
"I Got the Vibration" 1996 21
"Native New Yorker" 1997 46
"Fall Into My Love"
"Bright on Time ('99 Mix)" 1999 77 Non-album single
"Ride on Time (2003 Mix)" 2003
"Everybody Everybody 2007" 2007
"Ride on Time (20th Anniversary Mix)" 2009
"Everyone Will Follow" 2018
"—" denotes the single failed to chart or was not released


  1. ^ Released under the alias Starlight.
  2. ^ Released under the alias Wood Allen.
  3. ^ Released under the alias Mixmaster.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2009). Top Pop Singles 1955-2008 (12th ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 97. ISBN 0-89820-180-2.
  2. ^ "Starlight Discography".
  3. ^ Starlight > full Official Chart History. Official Charts. Retrieved on July 7, 2019
  4. ^ Wood Allen > full Official Chart History. Official Charts. Retrieved on July 7, 2019
  5. ^ a b Award BPI for "Ride on Time" by Black Box. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on July 8, 2019
  6. ^ Mixmaster > full Official Chart History. Official Charts. Retrieved on July 7, 2019
  7. ^ a b Black Box | Billboard Chart History. Billboard. Retrieved on February 1, 2019
  8. ^ a b Award BPI for "Dreamland" by Black Box. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on July 8, 2019
  9. ^ a b "US Certifications > Black Box". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  10. ^ a b Award BPI for "Fantasy" by Black Box. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved on July 8, 2019
  11. ^ a b Loleatta Holloway: Much-sampled disco diva who sued Black Box over their worldwide hit Ride on Time. Independent UK. Retrieved on July 7, 2019
  12. ^ Lawsuits Seek Truth in Music Labeling. New York Times. Retrieved on January 28, 2019
  13. ^ a b "Read Her Lips : R&B Singer Says Hot Dance Hit Is Lip-Synced – Los Angeles Times". 1991. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  14. ^ Valentine's Disco Party At Playhouse Welcomes 'Weather Girl' Martha Wash. New Town Bee. Retrieved on January 28, 2019
  15. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  16. ^ "CAN Charts > Black Box". RPM. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  17. ^ "FRA Charts Search > Black Box". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Archived from the original on 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  18. ^ a b "GER Charts > Black Box". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  19. ^ a b "NZ Charts > Black Box". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  20. ^ "NOR Charts > Black Box". VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  21. ^ a b "SWE Charts > Black Box". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  22. ^ "SWI Charts > Black Box". Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  23. ^ a b "UK Charts > Black Box". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  24. ^ a b c "US Charts > Black Box". Billboard. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  25. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  26. ^ Gold/Platinum - Music Canada > Black Box. Music Canada. Retrieved on July 8, 2019
  27. ^ "NL Charts > Black Box". MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  28. ^ "ITA Charts > Black Box". Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  29. ^ "ITA Charts > Black Box". Retrieved 2014-04-14.
  30. ^ "FRA Charts > Black Box". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 2011-12-18.
  31. ^ a b c Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  32. ^ Cached page of Sweden Certified Gold and Platinum records between the years of 1987-1998. Wayback Machine. Retrieved on July 9, 2019
  33. ^ "Les Singles en Argent" (in French). InfoDisc. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.

External linksEdit