Introduction to Kiki Dee
Kiki Dee (born Pauline Matthews in 1947) is a British singer. In the US, Dee became the first Caucasian singer to be signed to Motown, and released her debut single there. However, it was after she signed up with Elton John’s Rocket label that Dee became a pop star. She achieved her biggest American hit with “I’ve Got The Music” in 1974, with the Kiki Dee Band. Dee continued to score a string of hits in the UK, such as “How Glad I Am,” “Loving and Free/Amoureuse,” “First Thing In The Morning,” and “Chicago.” Her stardom proved to be relatively short-lived, however, and Dee went on a hiatus in much of the late 1970s, returning in the in early 1980s with another hit, “Star” and starred in the West End musical Blood Brothers. In 2008 Dee released her first DVD Under The Night Sky, as well as a compilation release that contained her Rocket catalog.
Kiki Dee’s early days in show business
British singer Kiki Dee was born Pauline Matthews in Little Horton, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England on March 6, 1947.
Her professional singing career began when she took a job as a session singer. She was a blue-eyed soul singer in the late 1960s, first backing up for star Dusty Springfield, among others. Her early catalog includes her first single “Early Night,” released in 1963, and her eponymous debut album that was released in 1968. “Early Night” was written by songwriter Mitch Murray, who also gave Matthews her stage name Kiki Dee.
She achieved some measure of success when her song “Why Don’t I Run Away From You” (released in 1965) became a smash on Radio London and Radio Caroline. Other than that, Kiki Dee had yet to have a taste of a real major success despite her many years in show business.
Stints at Motown and Elton John’s Rocket label
It took her long before her solo success would arrive in the next decade. She became the first Caucasian (or more specifically, British white artist) to sign with Motown Records. Her single on Motown, “The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday” was released in 1970.
Kiki Dee then jumped to Elton John’s label Rocket. And it was there where Kiki Dee was slowly building up her name as an artist. Her first big hit came with “Amoureuse,” her lyrical cover of a French composition written by Veronique Sanson. It was a major hit in the UK, peaking at #13 in 1973.
Kiki Dee’s only major hit with “I’ve Got the Music in Me”
Further hits came for Kiki Dee, but her biggest American success came in 1974 when she released a rock single called “I’ve Got the Music in Me.” The single, distributed by MCA in the US and was credited to the Kiki Dee Band, provided Dee with her one and only US hit. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #19 on the UK singles chart. “I’ve Got the Music in Me” was written by Kiki Dee Band’s keyboardist Tobias “Bias” Boshell.
Following her only major US hit, things became relatively quite for Kiki Dee in the late 1970s. Her last charting singles on the Hot 100 were “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am” and “Once a Fool” in 1975.
In 1981 Dee mounted a comeback with one of her biggest UK hits “Star,” where it was later used as a theme music to the ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks for a number of years.
She also reunited with Elton John on a few occasions, including in 1981 where they recorded a cover of the Stevie Wonder-penned song “Loving You Is Sweeter,” and in 1990s where she contributed vocals on two of John’s albums, The One and Duets.
Aside from recording, Kiki Dee also invaded the stage. She garnered recognition by playing the lead role in the musical Blood Brothers in London’s West End. She also starred in another West End production Pump Boys and Dinettes in the early to mid 1980s.
Dee has continued recording and performing. In 2008 Dee released her first DVDUnder The Night Sky, as well as a compilation release that contained her Rocket catalog. In the summer of 2013 released her last studio album A Place Where I Can Go, a product of her collaboration with colleague Carmelo Luggeri.