Minnie Julia Riperton-Rudolph (November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979), was an American singer-songwriter best known for her 1975 single “Lovin’ You” and her five-octave coloratura soprano range. She is also widely known for her use of the whistle register and has been referred to by the media as the “Queen of the whistle register”. Born in 1947, Riperton grew up in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side. As a child, she studied music, drama and dance at Chicago’s Lincoln Center. In her teen years, she sang lead vocals for the Chicago-based girl group the Gems. Her early affiliation with the legendary Chicago-based Chess Records afforded her the opportunity to sing backup for various established artists such as Etta James, Fontella Bass, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. While at Chess, Riperton also sang lead for the experimental rock/soul group Rotary Connection, from 1967 to 1971.
On April 5, 1975, Riperton reached the apex of her career with her No. 1 single “Lovin’ You”. The single was the last release from her 1974 gold album titled Perfect Angel. In January 1976, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and, in April, she underwent a radical mastectomy. By the time of diagnosis, the cancer had metastasized and she was given about six months to live. Despite the grim prognosis, she continued recording and touring. She was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis but did not disclose she was terminally ill. In 1977, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. In 1978, she received the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award, which was presented to her at the White House by President Jimmy Carter. Riperton died of cancer on July 12, 1979 at age 31.
Riperton was married to songwriter and music producer Richard Rudolph from August 1970 until her death in July 1979. Together, Riperton and Rudolph had two children; music engineer Marc Rudolph (b. 1968) and actress/comedian Maya Rudolph (b. 1972).
On “Great Soul Performances” this evening, I’m going to do a show I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. People always ask me about radio as it was “back in the day,” and who my inspirations, teachers, mentors and idols were.
You’re gonna find out this evening when I shine the spotlight on and pay tribute to, Douglas “Jocko” Henderson. Aside from Jocko’s on-air performances, you’ll hear his hit records as well. Along with “The Jock,” we’ll hear from Hal Jackson and Eddie O’Jay, also Charlie Greer, Stan Z. Burns and Alan Fredericks. There’ll be songs by: Minnie Riperton, Jeffrey Osborne and L.T.D., the Isley Brothers, Fourteen Karat Soul, Frankie Karl & the Dreams, the Temptations, Brenda & the Tabulations and more.
This is going to be a labor of love for me. Join me at 6PM ET, 5PM CT, 4PM MT & 3PM PT. If you remember radio when it was at it’s best, you’ve got to be here for “Great Soul Performances” later this evening with “The Original Rapper,” Douglas “Jocko” Henderson on RadioMaxMusic.Com.
I hope you’re enjoying your President’s Day. Coming up on “Great Soul Performances” will be: Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, Freda Payne, Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Nina Simone, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Righteous Brothers, Sylvia, Josh Stone, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Minnie Riperton, the Four Tops, Luther Vandross; live in concert, and more. Drop by at 7PM ET, 6PM CT, 5PM MT & 4PM PT for “Great Soul Performances” on the “Home of the Hits,” RadioMaxMusic.Com.
Tomorrow is “Father’s Day,” so this evening on “Great Soul Performances” we’ll play songs for “Dad” as well as pay a musical tribute to one of the greatest vocalists of all time, the late “Little” Jimmy Scott who passed away on Thursday. In addition you’ll hear: Major Harris, Joe Bataan, the Dells, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Michael Jackson from his “Xscape” CD, Minnie Riperton, Big Joe Turner, James Brown, Sly & the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder “live in concert” plus more.