Who is Madeline Bell?
Madeline Bell is an American singer who has done prolific session work, notably with friend Dusty Springfield, and with Tom Parker on some CD productions of neo-classical arrangements. The former gospel singer also joined the pop band Blue Mink; with them she scored Top 20 chart smashes in the United Kingdom (where she’s been living since the early 60s): “Melting Pot,” “Randy,” “Our World,” “Banner Man,” and others. She has also worked with other acts Sandpebbles, Ashman-Reynolds, and Spike Edney’s All Star Band. On her own achievements, she’s best known for her hit cover of Dee Dee Warwick’s single “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” in 1968.
Madeline Bell’s early life
American soul singer Madeline Bell was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 23, 1942. After her parents divorced when she was still a child, her grandmother was the one who raised her. It was also Bell’s grandmother who exerted much musical influence during her formative years. She paid her granddaughter through piano and dancing lessons, both of which the young girl was struggling to learn.
Finally, Bell found her niche and calling, which was singing, when she was in fifth grade. She started to take on various school programs including one in which she pantomimed Eartha Kitt’s holiday classic “Santa Baby.” Bell also regularly sang for the church choir.
Early singing career
When she was still young Bell joined various acts such as Four Jacks and a Jill and the Glovertones. While Bell was with the Glovertones, she was employed as a chicken wrapper at a local grocery store. Her productivity was boosted by the R&B and soul music from a radio her gracious boss provided to her, to get her inspired while working as well as to get her through in her tiring schedule. It was not easy for Bell to juggle between her work at the grocery store and performing with the Glovertones on weekends — who traveled for miles on a beat-up station wagon.
Bell’s move to the United Kingdom and her career as a session singer
Bell’s first big break came in 1961 when she passed an audition held by top gospel singer/producer/composer/arranger Alex Bradford who invited her right away to join his group, The Bradford singers. For the next two years, Bell and the rest of the Bradford Singers seemed to tour non-stop in several cities around the country. The group later received an invitation to take part in a traveling musical The Black Nativity which performed in many parts of the US and Europe.
While Bell was touring with The Black Nativity production in the United Kingdom, she met Dusty Springfield who also became her friend. She also worked as one of Springfield’s studio session vocalists. It was there in Britain where her work as a session singer flourished — she worked behind other artists such as Kiki Dee, Doris Troy, Joe Brown, Lesley Duncan, and Kenny Lynch, among others. By then she had settled in the UK.
Solo recording career
Meanwhile, Phillips Records eventually got wind of Bell’s session work and was impressed by her. The label later offered her a recording contract.
Bell recorded her own version of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” which was previously recorded by Dionne Warwick’s sister Dee Dee Warwick. The song was actually orginally offered to Springfield, who passed the song to Bell. In the US, the single was released on Mod label in 1968. The record moved up on the Billboard Hot 100, finally reaching its peak position at #26, performing much better than Dee Dee Warwick’s version. It also went to #32 on the US R&B charts. A feature LP was released, also titled I’m Gonna Make You Love Me which peaked at #46 on the US R&B singles chart that same year.
Bell’s stint with Blue Mink
Next, she joined the British pop quartet Blue Mink (founded by Roger Cook) in 1969. She stayed with the group for four years, etching hits such as “Melting Pot,” “Our World,” “Randy,” “Banner Man,” “Good Morning Freedom,” “Sunday,” “The Devil I Was Tempted,” and “Stay With Me.”
Bell left Blue Mink to return to her lucrative session singing profession. She also did solo singing and performing with the band the Swingmates in the Netherlands. She also claimed renown by collaborating with Tom Parker on some CD releases that feature neo-classical arrangements., which became a very good seller. She also collaborated with the French disco act Space, where she sang lead vocals on the group’s couple of albums. She had an international hit with Space called “Save Your Love For Me.”
Bell has since been active performing and singing as well as appearing in a number of stage productions. She regularly performs jazz and pop songs mostly in many European countries.