On May 1st 2012, it will be 20 years to the date since Sharon Redd died – I can hardly believe it… Must be because her music lives on, and she still lives through her music. There can’t be anyone over the age of 40 who hasn’t, at one time or another, danced to some of the great club hits she recorded. As a solo performer, her career encompassed much more than most people are aware of, and due to her much too premature death, I feel a loss of music that could have been – if she’d lived longer….

80's publicity photo

Sharon Redd (19 Oct. 1945 – 1 May 1992) may be first and foremost remembered for a lot of dancefloor-filling club hits of the 80’s, but before those came out she had done a whole lot more! She started her recording career in the late 1960’s, and released a total of 6 singles during the next 4 years: “Half as much” (1967), “Do you want me?”, “I’ve got a feeling”, “Since I lost you” (all 1968), “Easy to be hard” (1969), and finally “Where the mind can breathe” (1971). All these records helped her to establish a reputation as a very fine R n’ B singer with an expressive voice. They reveal a much more soulful Sharon than what you find on most of her club hits of the 80’s.

After 1971 there were no more records for quite some time, but Sharon branched out into acting. Her first major part was in the Australian production of “Hair” 1969-71, and Sharon stayed with the play during its entire run – becoming quite a star in Australia also! She appeared on the TV programme “GTK”, she made a fabulous commercial for Amoco Oil that was seen all over the country and she got to starr in her own Television Special! Later on, she was featured in the American TV sit-com “Rhoda” playing the role of Sherrie. She had a starring role in the London production of “The Wedding of Iphigenia” in 1974, and you can see her in a smaller part in the 1978 movie “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

And of course: from the mid-70’s and up to 1978 she was one of Bette Midler fabulous singers/dancers “The Staggering Harlettes” doing a lot of touring and shows with Bette. The 1977 Midler album “Live at Last” feature the Harlettes very prominently! They also made an album of their own in 1977, called “Formerly of The Harlettes”

Sharon (left) in The Staggering Harlettes, 1976

1979 saw the release of the song for which she is maybe best remembered; “Love Insurance”. For some reason this record never carried Sharon’s name – with the label reading “Front Page”. If any band of that name really existed, they were a studio product only, and it is Sharon who should be given all credit for this classic disco hit. It’s widely available under her name now, and can be downloaded from most music sites. Its almost seven minutes is pure musical bliss, and when she shouts “Surrender, baby!” during one of the breaks, that’s the only thing to do!

Right after “Love Insurance” hit, she was offered a contract with Prelude Records, quickly being turned into that labels “First Lady” and making three albums in quick succession for them. Her first album was titled simply “Sharon Redd” and she had big hits with songs like “Can You Handle It” and “You Got My Love”. The album also includes two songs that should have been hits; “Try My Love On For Size” and “It’s A Lie”.

Her next album, “Redd Hott” came out 1982, and she scored more hits with the songs “Never Give You Up”, “Beat The Street” and “In The Name Of Love” – ALL of them bona fide club classics, and ALL of them reached number 1 on the Dance Chart!  Her final solo album, “Love How You Feel” (1983) kept the hits coming with “You’re A Winner” and “Somebody Save The Night” – songs that will guarantee packed dance floors anywhere. The album also included “Activate” and the totally gorgeous “Liar On The Wire”. All three of her 80’s solo albums are available as downloads from iTunes, and they have been re-released on CD as well. There are numerous compilations out there too, most them compiling her biggest hits, so if you want just those – anyone of those will do. For those of you who want it all, go for the three solo discs altogether! They contain a lot of great music, performed by a woman whose smooth, soulful but still strong voice will no doubt leave a lasting impression on music lovers!

One of the better collections of Sharon's music

Although there were no more solo albums, Sharon kept on working in the music business. She was a prominent back-up singer for the group Soiree, and she made a duet with Les Adams called “All The Way To Love” – the last time her name would appear on any record. She was gradually fading from sight in the later part of the decade, but “Beat The Street! The Very Best of Sharon Redd” came out 1989 and caused some flurry of activity. This hit collection includes a 15-minute “Mega mix” of all of her greatest hits.

Includes all 12" versions and a Mega Mix

When Sharon suddenly died in May 1992, at just 46 years old – the music industry was shocked; Though never a superstar diva, she had been a consistent hit maker for some time, and as a person she seems to have been very nice, as everyone who’ve met her will tell you that she was just wonderful to be around. The cause of death was given as pneumonia, then a magazine published an article stating that Sharon had died of AIDS, and that the pneumonia was just a sideline to her much more serious diagnosis.

Personally, I don’t care – she was a wonderful singer who died much to young, whatever the cause of it was. If I sometimes feel like dancing, chances are that it’s one of Sharon’s discs I play. And I like to believe that she sits on the edge of a cloud, tapping a high-heeled foot to the beat and smiles that half-shy smile of hers. As a singer, she was one of the very few who could put some soul and sincerity into the electronic beats of 80’s dance music – and that is one of the main reasons I’m such a fan. She cuts straight through the sonic melee, aiming for your heart….. “Surrender, baby!” – Yes. miss Redd – I’m all yours…!