The late Loleatta Holloway was one of the true unsung powerhouse vocalists of the Disco and early Dance music era, a woman whose amazing, deeply gospel-infused voice would go on to become one of the most-sampled in music history.
Or maybe OVERSAMPLED is the right term since the Chicago-born Ms. Holloway, who passed away in 2011, is less known for her #1 Dance song, “Love Sensation”, in 1980, but better known for being the voice behind one of the biggest tracks of the 1990s–Black Box’s “Ride On Time”, which continues to be a club staple–and which came about as a result of Loleatta and Love Sensation, which it heavily sampled from.
“Ride On Time” became an international, top-selling hit, but as the Top 10 songs kept piling up for the European-based Black Box, the story behind the group’s lead singer unraveled: Soon it was discovered that the skinny songstress featured “singing” the lyrics to Ride On Time was actually a so-called model who was actually hired to just lip synch and be the face of the group.
Come to find out, Black Box was powered by the vocals of two singers, one of whom was Loleatta Holloway.
Litigation soon followed the scandal, which also ensnared another Disco/Dance diva, Martha Wash, whose vocals were used not only by Black Box but C&C Music Factory as well in very similar fashion.
In 1991, Mary Mark and The Funky Bunch recorded a Top 5 hit with “Good Vibrations” featuring Loleatta Holloway in the aftermath of the scandal, but they at least made the right choice by crediting the soulstress on vocals and also included her in at least one stage performance as well.
Holloway settled with Black Box producers for an unknown amount but she never received the true credit she deserved after Love Sensation was pretty much lifted to create a whole new song. A song which continues to enjoy success–30 years after it was released.
Credit was what Ms. Holloway said she wanted, calling sampling of her music “an honor” in an interview from the 1990s.
Today, Loleatta Holloway’s vocals continue to be some of the music widely sampled in music history, familiar to millions of music fans across the globe. Somewhat sadly, many of those millions know the vocals but have no idea of the name of the woman who powered them.
A court case is an incomplete footnote to the legacy of a phenomenal singer who never got the fame she deserved but whose legacy is that she continues to be heard by music lovers across the spectrum.