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The Venerable Singer Gloria Lynne

The Venerable Singer Gloria Lynne

Introduction to Gloria Lynne

Gloria Wilson, known by the stage name of Gloria Lynne, was an American jazz singer from the 60s music era who was best known for her Top 40 hit “I Wish You Love.” Her mother was a gospel singer and Wilson herself became a member of a Methodist church choir when she was young.  In 1951 she won the legendary amateur singing contest at the Apollo Theater when she was 15.  By the 1960s Gloria Lynne had become a professional singer, scoring several hits such as “Impossible”, “I Should Care” and of course “I Wish You Love”, the last peaked at #28 in 1964.  Plagued by unscrupulous mismanagement that left her with little or no royalties from her own material, Lynne was able to survive and earn money due to her live performances. She has performed with other jazz legends Bobby Timmons, Philly Joe Jones, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Quincy Jones.  She was involved in Family Bread Music Inc., a production outfit she manages together with her son. Lynne succumbed to a heart attack in 2013, aged 83.

Early life and career

Jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne was born Gloria Wilson on November 23, 1929 in Harlem, New York City, New York. Like many other black artists, Lynne also started as a gospel singer with her mother who sang in the church as well. The 15-year old Wilson won first place at the “Amateur Night” held at the legendary Apollo Theater.  At one time she also used another stage name “Gloria Allyne.”

In 1958, Lynne became a recording artist for Everest label where she stayed until 1964. On that label, she had her first two hits which both made on the US charts, “Impossible” (#95 pop, #19 adult contemporary, #16 R&B) and her own rendition of “Que reste-t-il de nos amours?”, “I Wish You Love.”  It was her answer song to Gene McDaniels’ “Tower of Strength” and became her signature song.  “I Wish You Love” was Lynne’s only biggest charting single, peaking at #28 on the Top 40 pop chart. It also became her first top ten R&B and easy listening hit at #3 and #9, respectively. At that time, she also worked with some of the popular names of the decade such as Johnny Mathis, Billy Eckstine, Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald.

Two years after, she left Everest and moved to Fontana where she issued four records: Soul Serenade, Love and a Woman, Where It’s At? and Here, There and Everywhere. In 1966, Lynne had an appearance on The Strolling ’20s, a Harry Belafonte’s television special. She also proved her versatility, switching to jazz and performing with several jazz artists such as Bobby Timmons, Philly Joe Jones, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Quincy Jones to name a few.

Later years, awards and death

Lynne achieved numerous awards for her contribution in the business; New York City declared July 25, 1995 as Gloria Lynne Day. In 1996, she earned an award from the International Women of Jazz Award, followed by Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 1997. In the 2000’s Lynne collected awards from National Treasure Award from the Seasoned Citizens Theater Company (2003), National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame a Living Legend Award from the State of Pennsylvania (2007), New York MAC Awards Outstanding Achievement in Jazz (2008) and from the Great Women in Music founder Roz Nixon at Schomburg Library in New York (2010).

On October 15, 2013, Lynne died of heart failure in Newark, New Jersey.


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