70s Music

Lady Flash – From Back-Up Vocalists to Recording Stars

Lady FlashIntroduction to Lady Flash

The vocal trio, called Lady Flash, were created as a backing  group for Barry Manilow in the mid-to-late 1970s.  When they were formed, they were first known as the Flashy Ladies and paraded with a lineup that consisted of Reparata Mazzola, Debra Byrd and Ramona Brooks;  Brooks was then replaced by Monica Page who had been a member since.  They came out with their own hit, the Manilow-penned  “Street Singin’” in 1976.  Since the trio’s inception they had been backing vocalists for Manilow in his first seven albums, all of which went to platinum.

 

Lady Flash’s Early Years

Best remembered as Barry Manilow’s backup vocalists and for their own recording career in the 70s music scene, Lady Flash was a trio consisted of Lorraine Mazzola, Debra Byrd and Ramona Brooks. Mazzola displayed a talent for singing while she was young; she became one of the members of Brooklyn College Chorus and the teenage group Reparata and the Dolrons. In 1968, she also became a solo artist and released the single “Captain of Your Ship” which was made on the U.K. Singles chart at #13. With the single’s success, she embarked on a tour in England in the same year.

Byrd used to sing in a gospel group Community Voices of Faith Choir. She attended Kent State University where she studied music theory. Later, she became the musical director of the Black Theater Workshop and recorded with the gospel group Jean Austin Singers. After that, Byrd was signed to Columbia Records and became one the Interpreters, switching to secular music. Brooks, meanwihile, was already performing at nightclubs as a soloist.

 

 

The birth of Lady Flash with their lone hit “Street Singin'”

Mazzola, Byrd and Brooks were initially gathered by Barry Manilow who was about on his way to stardom. Mazzola was the first recruit of Manilow, followed by Byrd and Brooks who were selected in an audition. At first, they were collectively named as Flashy Ladies for they were  always covered with glittery ensemble. Subsequently, Brooks left the group in 1976 and pursued her solo career, and her slot was later taken over by Monica Page. Page had been in the group all throughout the trio’s career.

Since the trio had been with Manilow in his engagements, he helped them to get signed to RSO imprint as a payback. At that point, they called themselves Lady Flash. In the summer of 1976, Manilow produced their debut album Beauties in the Night which contained the single “Street Singin.” Written by Manilow, the single entered the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #27. “Street Singin’” was also Lady Flash’s only hit. After their own success, they continued to work with Manilow. The following year, Burruss left the group and was replaced by Muffy Hendricks. Manilow, having less tour engagements by that point, Lady Flash slowly drifted as well.

 

Life after Lady Flash

After Lady Flash’s short-lived success and fame, the trio went on their separate ways.  Mazzola pursued her acting career and appeared in the movie Dark Before Dawn. She had also written a best-selling book Mafia Kingpin and now works as a screenwriter.

Byrd decided to stay in the music field, backing up for the Eurythmics and Bob Dylan. She is currently a vocal coach on American Idol.

Burruss, on the other hand, had recently performed once again with Manilow from 2004-2010.

 

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