Stephanie Mills[8][9] (born March 22, 1957)[1][10] is an American singer and songwriter. She rose to stardom as "Dorothy" in the original seven-time Tony Award winning Broadway run of the musical The Wiz from 1974 to 1979. The song "Home" from the show later became a Number 1 U.S. R&B hit and her signature song. During the 1980s, she had five Number 1 R&B hits, including "Home", "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love", "I Feel Good All Over", "(You're Puttin') A Rush on Me" and "Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel)". She won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song "Never Knew Love Like This Before" in 1981. Her albums What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin, Sweet Sensation and Stephanie went gold or platinum, all through 20th Century Fox Records.

Stephanie Mills
Born (1957-03-22) March 22, 1957 (age 67)[1]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1966–present
(m. 1980; div. 1983)
Dino Meminger
(m. 1989; div. 1991)
Michael Saunders
(m. 1993; div. 2001)
Musical career

Biography edit

Early life and career edit

Born Stephanie Dorthea Mills to Joseph and Christine Mills[2] and raised in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn,[11][12] Mills sang gospel music as a child at Brooklyn's Cornerstone Baptist Church. Mills began her professional career at age nine, appearing in the Broadway musical Maggie Flynn.[10] After winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater six weeks straight at age eleven, Mills went on to become the opening act for the Isley Brothers.[10] In 1973, Mills was signed to Paramount Records by Michael Barbiero, and her first single "I Knew It Was Love" was released. Mills was later signed to Motown after being suggested by Suzanne de Passe. Her first two albums there failed to produce a hit, and Mills left the label in 1976.

1970s–1980s edit

Mills's career took a rise when she portrayed Dorothy in the seven-time Tony Award winning Broadway musical The Wiz, an African-American adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.[13] The song "Home" was first performed by Mills in the stage production and would be covered later by Diana Ross for the movie adaptation three years later.[14][15] Mills’s commercial success in the music industry remained elusive until 1979, when she signed to the 20th Century Fox Records label. There, Mills found her niche in mainly disco music, recording songs such as "Put Your Body In It", "You Can Get Over", and "What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin'". The resulting album, What Cha' Gonna Do with My Lovin', being Mills's first gold record.[16][17]

She quickly followed the success with 1980's Sweet Sensation, which featured Mills's hit "Never Knew Love Like This Before". The single became a #12 R&B and #6 Pop hit in 1980, as well as reaching #4 in the UK Singles Chart.[18] 1981's Stephanie featured a top hit for her and Teddy Pendergrass entitled "Two Hearts".

Her 1983 album, Merciless, featured her hit cover of Prince's "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore?", as well as the #3 dance chart hit "Pilot Error", which was her first dance hit in the U.S. In 1984, Mills had her third UK hit with "The Medicine Song" (#29),[18] which also reached #1 on the U.S. dance chart and #8 on the R&B chart. On May 24, 1984, Mills returned to theater to star in a short-lived touring revival of The Wiz.

In 1985, Mills's recording of "Bit by Bit (Theme from Fletch)" was featured in the Chevy Chase film, Fletch, and reached #52 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, #78 on The Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on the Dance Chart.[19]

Success for Mills had peaked until 1986, when her version of the Angela Winbush-penned "I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love", hit #1 on the R&B singles chart. She truly returned with her next release, If I Were Your Woman in 1987 under MCA Records, which she was now signed. The hits from the album include the title track, originally a hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1971, a three-week #1 R&B hit, "I Feel Good All Over", and "You're Puttin' a Rush on Me", to name a few of the songs released. The album reached platinum status. That same year, she appeared in the NBC TV special, Motown: Merry Christmas along with other musical artists and actors, performing the song, "Christmas Everyday", which was written by actor/comedian Redd Foxx.

Mills's success continued with 1989's Home album. The hits from that album include "The Comfort of a Man", the title track, a cover of her old standard from The Wiz and another song penned by Winbush titled "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel", which became another platinum record for Mills.

1990s edit

Mills would record one more album (1992's Something Real) and a Christmas album before being released from her contract with MCA in 1992. In 1993, she once again starred in the role of Dorothy in The Wiz. This revival was also short lived, closing after 28 performances. Mills released a live gospel recording in 1994 on GospoCentric Records entitled Personal Inspirations. The set was produced by Donald Lawrence and featured a spiritualized retooling of her hit "I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love". Thereafter, Mills took a break from recording to care for her son.

In 1997, Mills played the lead in a major production of Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden in New Jersey, which Schwartz has called "the definitive production" of the show. Mills was heavily featured in the cast recording CD that resulted from this production.

2000s edit

In 2008, Mills began a comeback with singles recorded with BeBe Winans and rapper DMX to name a few. She made a comeback in independently-releasing Born For This (released on Expansion Records in the UK) on August 3, 2004. Her first single in over a decade, "Can't Let Him Go", garnered buzz at urban contemporary radio. Mills is currently touring. A 2-disc, career-spanning greatest hits compilation entitled Gold was released by Hip-O/Universal Music earlier last year. Mills just finished production of a live DVD recorded at BB Kings in New York which will be sold online and at her shows.

Mills made an appearance in the 2007 gospel TV series Sunday Best and was featured in a live interview on The Yolanda Adams Morning Show, where she mentioned that she has her own record label (JM Records). Mills performed prior to Pope Benedict XVI celebrating Mass at Yankee Stadium in New York on April 20, 2008. Her track, "Yesterday", is available for download on iTunes.

2010s edit

Mills on stage performing at the Detroit Opera House, April 2017

Towards the end of 2012, Mills released a new single "So In Love This Christmas", available for download. In 2015, Mills was cast as Aunt Em in the NBC live musical production of The Wiz, forty years after her initial Broadway run in the show.[20]

Mills made headlines in August 2018 with her response to singer Sam Smith, who remarked in a video posted to Instagram that he did not like Michael Jackson, but the Jackson hit "Human Nature" was a "decent song".[21] Mills' fiery response quickly gained traction as she criticized Smith in her own Instagram responses, both accusing Smith of cultural appropriation and referring to him as a "one hit wonder".[22]

2020s edit

In November 2021, Mills participated in a Verzuz battle with singer Chaka Khan, at which both singers performed hits from their discography.[23]

Personal life edit

Mills has been married three times:[2][24][25][26]

  • Jeffrey Daniel: (1980–1983), Jeffrey Daniel was from the R&B/soul group Shalamar.
  • Dino Meminger: (1989–1991).
  • Michael Saunders: (1993–2001), Minister Louis Farrakhan officiated the wedding ceremony.

Mills has a son, Farad Mills, who was born with Down syndrome.[27] She also once had a brief relationship with fellow singer Michael Jackson.[28]

Discography edit

Studio albums

Stage work edit

Filmography edit

Year Title Role Notes
1978 Watch Your Mouth Nadine Episode: "New Blues"
1983 The Wiz Dorothy Gale Live recording
1985 The Love Boat Tara Episode: "Forties Fantasy"
2015 The Wiz Live! Aunt Em Television special
2023 Pride: Seven Deadly Sins Birdie Moore Television film

Awards edit

Year Award Category Work Result
1975 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical The Wiz Won
1980 Young Artist Awards Best Young Musical Recording Artist – Female Two Hearts Nominated
American Music Award Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist Herself Won
1981 Won
Grammy Award Best Female R&B Vocal Performance "Never Knew Love Like This Before" Won
1982 Stephanie Nominated
American Music Award Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist Herself Won
1984 Grammy Award Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Merciless Nominated
1990 American Music Award Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist Herself Nominated

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b @iamstephaniemills (August 12, 2017). "Celebrating 60 years of me". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Charles L. Sanders (February 1, 1982). "Stephanie Mills: The Painful Education Of A Young Superstar". Google Books. Ebony Magazine/Johnson Publishing Company. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "Marriage Gone Sour For Mills And Daniels". Google Books. JET Magazine/Johnson Publishing Company. August 27, 1981. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  4. ^ "Music: There's More To Stephanie Mills Than Meets The Eye". Google Books. Orange Coast Magazine. March 1, 1984. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "Special Occasion". Google Books. JET Magazine/Johnson Publishing Company. June 11, 1990. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  6. ^ Annie Gowen (February 23, 1996). "There's Still No Place Like Home For Mills". articles.chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  7. ^ "Stephanie Mills Wed". Google Books. JET Magazine/Johnson Publishing Company. February 8, 1993. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  8. ^ Betts, Graham (June 2, 2014). Motown Encyclopedia. AC Publishing. ISBN 9781311441546. Retrieved May 19, 2018 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Stephanie Mills Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Hogan, Ed. "Artist Biography [Stephanie Mills]". Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  11. ^ Morris, C. Zawadi (February 4, 2012). "Today's Pride of Bed-Stuy: Stephanie Mills". Patch Bed-Stuy. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  12. ^ "Stephanie Mills". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "Stephanie Mills and Forty Years of 'The Wiz'". NBC News. December 2, 2015.
  14. ^ ""Diana Ross Sings Songs from The Wiz" Released Today".
  15. ^ "Stephanie Mills, Broadway's original Dorothy in 'The Wiz,' cast as Aunt Em in the live NBC TV special". New York Daily News. May 11, 2015.
  16. ^ "Stephanie Mills".
  17. ^ "Stephanie Mills". Recording Industry Association of America.
  18. ^ a b Roberts, David (1998). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 367. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  19. ^ "Fletch – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack". Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "Stephanie Mills Cast in 'The Wiz Live!' on NBC". May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  21. ^ Zauzmer, Emily (August 13, 2018). "Sam Smith Shades Michael Jackson While Boating with Adam Lambert — and Twitter Isn't Having It". Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  22. ^ Golding, Shenequa (August 14, 2018). "Stephanie Mills To Sam Smith: 'Go Sit Your One-Hit Wonder Ass Down'". Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  23. ^ Mitchell, Gail (November 19, 2021). "'Sister Love': Best Moments From Chaka Khan & Stephanie Mills' 'Verzuz' Legacy Showcase". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  24. ^ V109.9 "Happy Birthday Stephanie Mills" March 22, 2010 Archived July 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (March 22, 2010). Retrieved on April 13, 2012
  25. ^ "The new Stephanie Mills – singer – Interview – Ebony – Find Articles". July 12, 2012. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
  26. ^ [1] Archived March 28, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Stephanie Mills : Interview". Windy City Times. Chicago. August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on August 15, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  28. ^ "'The Wiz' Star Stephanie Mills Opens Up About Dating Michael Jackson". February 5, 2016.

External links edit