Deniece Williams

  • Singer and songwriter born June Deniece Chandler in 1951, from Gary Indiana. She became Deniece Williams when she married her first husband in 1971.
  • She grew up singing gospel music at her church, and she idolized jazz singers Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson. After high school, she got a part time job singing at a club, and she also recorded several singles for a Chicago record label in the late 60s. Still looking for work, she was introduced to Stevie Wonder by her cousin, who was a childhood friend of Wonder. After an audition, Wonder hired Williams to be a backup vocalist – she and 2 others became known as Wonderlove. She toured with Wonder, and contributed vocals on 3 of his biggest albums in the 70s. She also sang backing vocals for Syreeta, Minnie Riperton and Roberta Flack.
  • She started writing music during her years with Wonder. In 1975, she left Wonder to start a solo career. She worked with Maurice White (from Earth, Wind & Fire), who co-produced her debut album, This is Niecy, released in 1976. It included the song Free, which became her first hit, reaching #2 on the R&B chart and #25 on the Hot 100.
  • She had her first #1 hit in 1978 when she sang a duet with Johnny Mathis – Too Much, Too Little, Too Late. The song was part of a Johnny Mathis album – it was his second #1 on the Hot 100 (it took 21 years after Chances Are for Mathis to reach #1 again). Soon after its success, Williams and Mathis jointly released an album, That’s What Friends Are For, and the single You’re All I Need To Get By was a top 10 hit on the R&B chart.
  • During the 80s, Williams had 6 hits that reached the top 10 of the R&B chart. Her biggest hit was in 1984 – Let’s Hear It For The Boy became her signature pop song, reaching #1 on the Hot 100 and R&B chart. It was featured in the film Footloose, and received heavy airplay on MTV. She also had a #1 R&B hit with her remake of It’s Gonna Take A Miracle. 
  • Gospel music began to be featured in her albums in the 80s. She included inspirational songs in her earlier albums, but by 1986, she was releasing albums that were all gospel. Her first, So Glad I Know, reached #6 on the Billboard Christian Album chart, and at the 1987 Grammy awards, she sang an a capella version of God Is Amazing, rather than Let’s Hear It For The Boy – her record label was not pleased. She has won 4 Grammy Awards, all in the Gospel category.
  • In early 2019, she will release her first album of new music since 2007. Titled The Melody I Sing, the music shows a shift to contemporary jazz and blues. Listen to her Williams’ remarkable 4-octave range and soprano voice in her (cheesy) music video of It’s Gonna Take A Miracle. 

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