Viola Wills

 

Viola Wills (December 30, 1939 - May 6, 2009) was an American pop singer, best known for the 1979 UK Singles Chart #8 and U.S. Hot Dance Club Play #52 hit, "Gonna Get Along Without You Now". Other hits included further covers of the songs, "Both Sides Now" (#35 UK) (1986), and "If You Could Read My Mind" (#2 U.S. Hot Dance Club Play) (1980).

Early career

Born Viola Mae Wilkerson in the Watts district of South Los Angeles, Wills was already married from her teens. She was the mother of six children before the age of 21. In 1965, she was discovered by Barry White who signed her to Bronco Records and renamed her with the shorter stage surname of Wills; from her first marriage name of Lyons. She started her career at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and, over the following years, in addition to working with White, also performed with Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson and many other established recording artists of the era. It was while working in London as one of Cocker's backing vocalists (dubbed the "Sanctified Sisters") that she worked on and released her solo debut album of self-penned originals titled Soft Centres, backed by Cocker's session players.

Later career

Wills' first major break into the mainstream came in 1979 with her cover version of "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" (the song's release date was May 14, 1979) which started a string of dance hits. All three of the songs would land Wills in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. In 1982 her cover of "Stormy Weather" hit #4 in the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart. Later in 1983, the newly formed record label RVA (Robert Viola Ashmun), released a number of songs, including "Wall", "Space" and "If These Walls Could Speak".

A demand for 1980s music brought Wills back to Europe. Some of the UK venues Wills has appeared on, or at, were Top of The Pops (October 11, 1979), Pebble Mill, Soul Train (October 30, 1971 [Season 1, Episode 5] where she performed the song "Sweetback"), Later... with Jools Holland, Ronnie Scott's, Never Mind the Buzzcocks (February 17, 2003 [Season 12, Episode 7]) and a residency at Joogleberry Playhouse in Brighton.

Although Wills did not have a mainstream U.S. hit, she was popular among the nation's gay community and her singles are popular in dance clubs and a number of her recordings are found in various compilations, including "No News Is News", "A House Is Not a Home", "If You Could Read My Mind", "Up On The Roof", "Somebody's Eyes", "Love Pains", "Let's Love Now", "Take One Step Forward" (by Wills and Noel McCalla), and "Always Something There to Remind Me".

Her vocals also featured on My Friend Sam's 1992 house track "It's My Pleasure" which later appeared on the seminal Renaissance: The Mix Collection album.

Personal life and death

On February 21, 1982 in Hennepin County, Minnesota; she married Robert Chappell Ashmun. This was her 2nd marriage. Later in 1983, the new husband and wife pair formed the record label RVA (Robert Viola Ashmun).

Wills died of cancer on May 6, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her funeral was held at the Macedonia Abbey Baptist Church in Los Angeles on May 15, 2009.

Viola left behind six children - Vincent, Christopher, Regina, Madonna, David and Rejal, 21 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Discography

Albums

Singles

References

External links

  • Viola Wills at AllMusic
  • Viola Wills discography at Discogs
  • Viola Wills on Internet Movie Database
  • Viola Wills Nascent fan page at Soul Walking
Source : Wikipedia

Top Tracks

Gonna Get Along Without You Now 1

Gonna Get Along Without You Now

If You Could Read My Mind 2

If You Could Read My Mind

Stormy Weather 3

Stormy Weather

Always Something There To Remind Me 4

Always Something There To Remind Me

Sweetback 5

Sweetback

Gonna Get Along Without You Now - Extended 6

Gonna Get Along Without You Now - Extended

Gonna Get Along Without You 7

Gonna Get Along Without You

Dare To Dream 8

Dare To Dream

Gonna Get Along Without You Know 9

Gonna Get Along Without You Know

If You Could Read My Mind - Radio Edit 10

If You Could Read My Mind - Radio Edit

Top Albums

The Best of Viola Wills
The Best of Viola Wills
tracks
Gonna Get Along Without You Now
Gonna Get Along Without You Now
tracks
If You Could Read My Mind
If You Could Read My Mind
tracks

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