The Chantels are singing on the Pop and Rhythm & Blues circuit capturing audiences across the nation with their unique sound. Hear them on their new CD Eternally.
The Chantels began their journey to stardom in 1956 by a chance meeting with Richard Barrett; lead singer of the Valentines, on New York’s famed Broadway. The five girls, Arlene Smith, Renee Minus, Jacqulyn Landry, Sonia Goring and Lois Harris had attended St. Anthony of Padua Elementary School in the Bronx, New York, and were members of St. Anthony’s church choir. Their unique sound was rooted in the liturgical music of that church, and the sounds of the boy groups that sang on the street corners of the Bronx. Barrett recorded the Chantels on George Goldner’s End Record label. “He’s Gone” backed by the “Plea” were released in 1957. The next release “Maybe” became a major national hit and made the Chantels stars overnight. The Chantels are also credited with recording the first Extended Play 45 rpm record. The Chantels then began a series of nationwide tours with Alan Freed and “Murray the K” Kaufman. They also appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
In 1959 after George Goldner’s record company folded, original lead singer Arlene Smith struck out on her own. The Chantels didn’t miss a beat and in 1962, released what was to become the group’s highest charted record, “Look in My Eyes” on the Carlton label and Annette Smith on lead, under the direction of Richard Barrett. This was followed by the up-tempo “Well I told you” which was a top 20 hit, with Barrett on lead, and was the answer to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.”
In December 1997, Original group member Jackie Landry Jackson succumbed to breast cancer. Although this was a major loss The Chantels decided not to replace her. Jackie was the heart of the group and was the glue that held The Chantels together. She is sorely missed.
Today, The Chantels, Sonia Goring Wilson, Lois Harris Powell, Renee Minus White and Ami Ortiz who joined the group in 1996, are among the most popular and requested singing groups, performing their numerous great hits. They are among the nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2010 induction. The group’s live performance in 1999 for the PBS TV special, “Doo Wop ’50,” which featured the best vocal group stars of the 1950’s and 60’s received rave reviews nationwide.
The Chantels have in recent years appeared at the world famous Apollo Theater, Radio City Music Hall, The Beacon Theater, The Tarrytown Music Hall, Symphony Space and the Norfolk Music Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York; Three Rivers Stadium, White Oak American Legion and the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA and numerous other venues on the East and West Coast. The Chantels had the privilege of appearing in concert at the World Trade Center in July 2001; and also appearing in front of an audience of 125,000 Girl Scouts of America at the Washington Monument in 2002 and again in 2007 in celebration of their 90th and 95th anniversaries.
These extremely talented ladies are also featured in the celebrated “Doo Wop is Alive” photo unveiled on February 3, 2000 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC as a salute to the pioneers of the Rhythm & Blues and Doo Wop. They were greeted as the “sweethearts of the era!”
Visit “The Chantels” website here.