Skip to main content

Riperton, Minnie (1947–1979)

Riperton, Minnie (1947–1979)

African-American singer. Name variations: (pseudonym) Andrea Davis; Minnie Riperton Rudolph. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on November 8, 1947 (some sources cite 1948); died on July 12, 1979, in Los Angeles, California; married Richard (Dicky) Rudolph (a musician and producer); children: Marc; Maya.

Had #1 hit with "Loving You" (1974); received an award for courage and public service from President Jimmy Carter (1977); became first African-American woman named national educational chair of the American Cancer Society (1978).

Selected albums:

Come to My Garden (1970); Perfect Angel (1974); Adventures in Paradise (1975); Stay in Love (1977); Minnie (1979); Love Lives Forever (1980).

Gifted with a five-octave voice, Minnie Riperton was born in Chicago on November 8, 1947, and began studying voice, opera, and ballet at age ten. Only four years later, she joined an all-girl group called the Gems, and started working at Chicago's Chess Records as a receptionist. During this time, she lent her voice as a backup singer for such famous artists as Etta James and Johnny Nash. In the mid-1960s, Riperton became the lead singer of a soul group, the Rotary Connection, which released a number of albums and opened for such acts as Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin , and the Rolling Stones. She also recorded as a solo artist under the name Andrea Davis. She released her first album under her own name, Come to My Garden, in 1970. By the following year, however, having grown weary of the music business, she temporarily retired.

Riperton returned to music by touring as a backup singer for artists including Roberta Flack and Quincy Jones, and in 1973 signed with Epic Records. She found fame with the release of her album Perfect Angel, produced by legendary singer and musician Stevie Wonder, the following year. The album became an instant smash, propelled by the international hit single "Loving You," which reached the top of the charts in both America and England. Co-written by Riperton and her husband Dicky Rudolph, the song made full use of her amazing vocal range. She often used her voice instrumentally, creating a sound that fused pop, soul, and jazz. (In the 1990s, "Loving You" would be used in television commercials for Burger King.)

Riperton released two more albums for Epic, Adventures in Paradise (1975), which reached the Top 20, and Stay in Love (1977). However, her career slowed significantly when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy at age 29. Riperton did not hide her fight with cancer, which at the time was still often considered an improper subject for discussion, but toured the talk-show circuit and candidly told other women about her surgery and treatment. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter presented her with an award for her bravery and dedication to public awareness of breast cancer. The following year, the American Cancer Society named her its national educational chair—the first African-American woman ever chosen for this position.

Despite her illness, Riperton continued making music. She signed with Capitol Records and in April 1979 released the album Minnie, which included the hit singles "Memory Lane" and "Lovers and Friends." Only a few months later, on July 12, 1979, Riperton lost her battle with cancer. In 1980, Capitol posthumously released her last album, Love Lives Forever. Still much admired by a select audience, Riperton is also credited with influencing the next generation of women singers (such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey ) who use their wide-ranging voices instrumentally.

sources:

Bane, Michael. Who's Who in Rock. NY: Everest House, 1981.

Clarke, Donald, ed. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. NY: Viking, 1989.

Hardy, Phil, and Dave Laing. Encyclopedia of Rock. NY: Schirmer Books, 1988.

Hine, Darlene Clark, ed. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1993.

The New York Times Biographical Service. July 1979, p. 980.

Nite, Norm N. Rock On. Vol. 2. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1978.

People Weekly. June 17, 1996.

Ann M. Schwalboski , teacher and writing specialist, University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Riperton, Minnie (1947–1979)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Riperton, Minnie (1947–1979)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/riperton-minnie-1947-1979

"Riperton, Minnie (1947–1979)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/riperton-minnie-1947-1979

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.