The Emotions were an all-girl R&B group who hailed from Chicago, Illinois. They consisted of three sisters who once sang gospel songs. They turned to singing secular music and got signed up with Stax (Volt) label. Sheila wrote a song called “So I Can Love You,” which became their first charting single (it made it to the Top 40 pop chart). The Emotions attained several minor hits on both pop and R&B until Stax folded in 1975. Then they encountered Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White who co-wrote the group’s first and only big hit, 1977’s “Best Of My Love.” The Emotions also backed EW&F’s hit “Boogie Wonderland”; however, they were unable to follow “Best Of My Love” with another hit, even when they jumped from label to label (from White’s ARC label to Red label). Youngest sister Pamela also joined the group in the mid-1970s. After not being with the group upon giving birth to her second child, Jeanette returned to the fold in 1978. Aside from the Emotions, the girls also pursued separate musical projects. The current lineup is still pretty much intact, except Jeanette who had long left the group.
The Hutchinson’s sisters’ early life and career
The Emotions were an all-girl R&B group formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968. They originally consisted of three sisters Wanda, Jeanette and and Sheila Hutchinson. They were the children of Joseph and Lillian Hutchison; Joseph, in particular, actually encouraged and trained his daughters to sing as soon as they learned to talk. He eventually had his kids singing in local church choirs. Once known as the Hutchison Sunbeams, they changed their name into The Emotions. The sisters also turned to taking up secular music and were signed to Stax (Volt) label where they began to work with producers Isaac Hayes and David Porter.
While the three Hutchinson sisters were still in their teens, they released their debut album So I Can Love You in 1968. The title track was written by Sheila and was also released as their first single; it peaked at #39 on the pop chart and #3 R&B. By now Jeannette Hutchinson was married to Reginald Hawes, so she sometimes professionally went by her name as Jeannette Hawes. The sisters’ cousin Theresa Davis joined the trio.
The Emotions’ move to Columbia; association with Earth, Wind & Fire
When Stax went out of business in 1975, they signed up with Columbia Records. They also began to get associated with Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire which proved to be a big boon to the girls. Youngest sister Pamela joined the group around this period.
Columbia released the girls’ first LP with the label Flowers in 1976. The first single, “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” was actually a B-side to Flowers‘ title track, but it was “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” which charted. (#51 pop, #4 dance, #13 R&B). With Maurice White, the Emotions collaborated the eventual pop and R&B Top 10 hit “Boogie Wonderland,” an Earth, Wind and Fire collaboration.
But the Emotions’ biggest hit came when the Maurice White-penned and co-produced “Best of My love” reached to the top of both pop and R&B singles charts in 1977. It also reached #11 on the dance chart and #4 on the UK singles chart. It came from their fifth album (and second with Columbia) Rejoice, which peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 and became a platinum-selling album.
Another single from Rejoice, “Don’t Ask My Neighbors,” was also an R&B Top 10 hit at #7.
Jeanette left the group to give birth to her second child in 1977, but the following year she made a return. The girls continued recording, this time on White’s ARC label where they released a couple of albums, Come into Our World and New Affair, but it seems they weren’t able to match their previous success. In 1984 The Emotions released another album on the Red Label entitled Sincerely, which featured the single “All Things Come in Time.” The following year they moved to Motown briefly and released what would be their last studio album to date, If I Only Knew.
The Emotions today consist of the Hutchinson sisters Wanda, Sheila and Pamela; Jeanette Hawes (nee Hutchinson) had long since departed from the group. They continue to perform together, aside from pursuing their own individual projects.