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Melba Moore interviewed by Lenny Fontana for True House Stories™ # 102

Melba Moore began her recording career in 1967, cutting the track “Magic Touch” which was left unreleased until 1986. In later years it became an enormous track on the Northern Soul Scene, eventually leading to Moore performing it live in 2009 at the Baltic Soul Weekender 3 in Germany north of Hamburg. In 1967 she began her performing career as Dionne in the original cast of the musical Hair along with Ronnie Dyson, Paul Jabara and Diane Keaton.

In 1975 Melba Moore signed with Buddha Records and released the critically successful R&B album, Peach Melba, which included the minor hit, “I Am His Lady”. The following year she scored her first significant hit with the Van McCoy penned “This Is It “, which reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top-20 position on the R&B chart, and top-10 in the UK, becoming her biggest success in that country.

In 1976 she scored her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad “Lean on Me”, which had been recorded originally by Vivian Reed and later by Moore’s idol Aretha Franklin who recorded the song as a B-side to her 1971 hit “Spanish Harlem”.

The song is most notable for Moore’s extended long note at the end. In 1983 she re-recorded the song as a tribute to McCoy, who had died four years earlier. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore struggled to match the success of “This Is It” with minor R&B/dance hits. However, her hit ‘Pick Me Up, I’ll Dance’ released in May 1979 produced by McFadden and Whitehead and released on Epic Records did have considerable UK disco success,

reaching UK chart position 48, along with a further hit that same year, also produced by McFadden and Whitehead with a cover version of the Bee Gees’ hit “You Stepped Ito My Life”, which reached the top 20 on the R&B charts and 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1982 Moore signed with Capitol Records and reached the top 5 on the R&B charts with the dance-pop / funk single “Love’s Comin’ at Ya”, which also hit the top 20 in the UK (on EMI America EA 146) and became a sizable hit in some European countries for its post-disco sound and followed by “Mind Up Tonight”, which was another top 40 hit in the UK reaching position number 22.

A string of R&B hits followed, including 1983’s “Keepin’ My Lover Satisfied” and “Love Me Right”, 1984’s “Livin’ for Your Love”, 1985’s “Read My Lips”—which later won Moore a third Grammy nomination (for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance), making her just the third black artist after Donna Summer and Michael Jackson to be nominated in the rock category—and 1985’s “When You Love Me Like This”.

Moore has been married once and has a daughter. Melba Moore was engaged in a four-year relationship with television star Clifton Davis during the early 1970s. Davis later admitted that the relationship failed due to his drug abuse and mistreatment of Moore. In September 1974, Moore married record manager and business promoter Charles Huggins. Moore and Huggins divorced after 17 years of marriage in 1991.

In 1999, Huggins filed suit against Moore claiming that she had publicly defamed him by stating that he abused her economically. Melba Moore has described herself as a “born-again Catholic” and listen to her share the rest of her story right here on True House Stories.

Melba Moore YouTube Video

Melba Moore

Biography Melba Moore

Is an American prolific 5 Octave singer and award winning actress. Broadway, Contemporary Soul/R&B, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Gospel and Classical

On 10 Aug 2023 Melba Moore will receive her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Melba Moore was destined to be a Star! It could have been her Grammy-nominated cover of the Aretha Franklin classic “Lean On Me” or her Tony Award-winning performance as ‘LuttieBelle GussieMae Jenkins’ in Purlie that solidified her place in America’s hearts, and when she became the first African-American woman to perform the role of Fantine in Les Misérables.

“Music is what God allows me to do,” declares Melba Moore. Born into a musical family, music chose Melba. “Music was a centerpiece in my family. My parents were musicians and so were many of my aunts and uncles.” Melba’s father is the legendary big band leader Teddy Hill and her mother, Bonnie Davis, had a #1 hit on the R&B charts with the song “Don’t Stop Now.” 

A graduate of the famed Arts High in Newark, Melba, at the encouragement of her parents went on to pursue music education at Montclair State, but her inner voice told her she had to see if she had the chops to make it as a performer. Melba’s stepfather (pianist Clement Moorman) introduced her to several agents which led to some studio work and eventually an audition that landed her a role in the cult classic Hair on Broadway in 1969.

It was in Hair that Melba became the first African American woman to replace a white actress, who happened to be the acclaimed Diane Keaton, in a lead role on Broadway. One years later, she starred in Purlie, which earned her a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her portrayal as ‘Lutiebelle.’ At that time, Melba was one of the first Black women to win a Tony Award.

Ms. Moore was the first female pop/R&B artist to do a non operatic solo concert at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House and at the Olympia in Paris. Melba was born to shine. Melba is better than ever, an elegant living legend, humanitarian, a star of stage, screen, and recordings, she’s done it all and has done it beautifully. An American trend setter, she sets the bar high. She is currently in the planning stages of her return to Broadway and Television.

She is a Grammy nominated vocalist; a film star (she was in films ‘All Dogs Go To Heaven,’ ‘The Fighting Temptations’ (Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyonce Knowles). Moore has a successful track record in Television with the Melba Moore Show, Melba Moore Clifton Davis Show, Falcon Crest, Ellis Island, she produced ‘Melba Moore Live’ concert for TV, she is also profiled in the docu-series on TV-One’s acclaimed ‘Unsung.’

She scored a string of Billboard charted hits … 8 top 10 R&B hits including two #1 smash hits and 3 Grammy nominations, AMA Nominations; rewards received are Tony Award, Ellis Island Award, Artist Guild Award, Trumpet Award of Excellence, NAACP Spingarn Award, History Makers Tribute.

In the 80s and 90s, Melba Moore gifted us with classic jams like “Lean On Me,” “This Is It,” “You Stepped Into My Life,” “Love’s Comin’ At Ya,” “Livin’ For Your Love,” “Falling” and “A Little Bit More” a #1 duet with Freddie Jackson. “With over 40 years in the industry, the singer and Broadway actress continues to create new music for fans to enjoy, and plans to release a new album this spring.

In recent years, the resilient and always the renaissance woman, Moore’s recording projects have primarily been gospel albums, including the CD “Nobody But Jesus.” In 2002, she released “I’m Still Here” and in 2010 she released “The Gift of Love,” a duet album of classic songs and unforgettable originals.

This multifaceted artist/philanthropist is always reaching deeper, pressing harder, ever challenging herself; keeping her audience on the edge of their seats, knowing that whatever happens next will be at least, as exciting as what happened before.

Melba Moore’s produced version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” which was entered into the United States Congressional Record as the official Negro National Anthem in 1990, was just named an ‘American Aural Treasure,’ by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress for Ms. Moore’s co-produced recorded rendition of the anthem