Cheryl Lynn was born in Los Angeles on March 11, 1957, and raised in the Church of The Living God. Her mother, Opal Smith, was the minister of music. "That's where all of my spirit and soul comes from", she witnesses in a heartbeat. Cheryl harmonized her way through the the tiny tots choir to the adult chorus, later traveling the circuit with greats James Cleveland and Stan Lee.
She was too shy to sing in church, but Cheryl Lynn was brave enough to take a shot on the silly Seventies television hit, 'The Gong Show', where she saaang the pop standard 'You Are So Beautiful'. Cheryl performed on the campy TV show in order to please her boyfriend at the time, and her powerful performance would prove to change her life because an executive from Columbia records took notice of her talent. Needless to say, Cheryl was signed to Columbia Records, and before releasing her debut album, she provided vocals to the classic Toto song 'Georgy Porgy' (Remade by Eric Benet & Faith Evans in the mid 1990's).
In 1978, Cheryl released her debut album 'Cheryl Lynn' with production by Toto's David Paich, Ray Parker Jr., and others.The first single, 'Got To Be Real' (An all-time Disco & R&B Classic!), topped the R&B charts and reached number 12 on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Chart. In the mid 1990's Patti LaBelle claimed to have been offered 'Got To Be Real', but she SUPPOSEDLY turned it down (yeah, right!!), so it became Cheryl's trademark classic. Too bad Patti-Patti!!
The follow up single, 'Star Love', was a Top 20 R&B smash that opened with a slow, scene-setting intro, gallops into a disco trot, then takes us to the stars. Cheryl's debut album also included 'Come in From The Rain', which was a Melissa Manchester standard. With Cheryl gaining intense popularity from her debut album, the executives at Columbia wanted her next album ASAP, and the resulting project was 'In Love' (1979), which included songs like 'I've Got Faith In You', 'Keep It Hot', and 'I've Got Just What You Need'. David Foster worked with Cheryl, and none of the releases were big hits, so the album faded quickly, and Cheryl had to prepare for her next album while being under pressure from Columbia.
At the close of the 1970's, Cheryl was facing stress from her label, and the changing music scene, which declared 'disco is dead'. She decided to put her best foot forward, and reunited with Ray Parker Jr. to record her 1981 album, 'In The Night'. All of the hard work paid off, and Cheryl had smash hits with 'Shake it up Tonight' & the title track. 'In The Night' sold enough copies (500K) to almost reach Gold Status, and Columbia was happy to have Cheryl back on top.
Fresh off success with Aretha Franklin's 'Jump To It', Marcus Miller & Luther Vandross were tapped to produce Cheryl's 1982 album, 'Instant Love'. They proved to be the right choice and Cheryl sang great tunes like the title track, 'Sleep Walkin', and the heart-wrenching 'Day After Day', which was written by Mtume's Tawatha Agee, who provided background vocals throughout the album. The song that became an instant classic was the duet between Cheryl & Luther Vandross, 'If This World Were Mine'. While this song was a 1960's hit for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Cheryl & Luther breathed new life into the song, and their vocal chemistry was just perfect (almost heavenly!). The remake was so popular that the duo began making television appearances, and Cheryl was exposed to an even wider audience. After an exciting 1982, Cheryl had to face the prospect of recording her next album without the Miller-Vandross team who were responsible for the classic (& now out of print) 'Instant Love' CD. They had to invest time in Luther's solo career ('Busy Body') in addition to other projects like 'Get it Right' by Aretha Franklin during 1983.
The period of Late 1982-Early 1983 was a time when Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis' (Flyte Tyme Productions) were the best hit making duo in the business. They created massive hits for The S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle, and Alexander O'Neal (among others), while pioneering a new type of 'Minneapolis Sound'. Cheryl was lucky enough to have some of Flyte Tyme's 'time', so she flew up to their studio in Minneapolis & cut another smash hit ('Encore'), which made her 1983 'Preppie' a big seller. 'Encore' was the only song to be produced by Jam & Lewis for Cheryl's 1983 release, and it was followed by 'Fix It', which was a minor hit (Not to be confused with Teena Marie's hit also from 1983 which beared the same title!). Another song worth mentioning is 'No One Else Will Do', which was a beautiful showcase for the range of Cheryl's great vocals.
Following 'Preppie', Cheryl teamed-up with Michael Bolton, to record the single 'At Last Your Mine' for the movie soundtrack to the film 'Heavenly Bodies'. The movie and soundtrack were both released on February 1, 1985. Michael wrote the song and the single became a minor hit for Cheryl, reaching #34 on the Billboard's R&B charts. Although the single contained Michael's soft pop-rock flavor, and not Cheryl's typical Dance/R&B sound, it proved that she able to face the challenge of being quite diverse in music.
Cheryl rode the resulting success from 'Preppie' (& More!) for almost 2 years before reuniting with Jam & Lewis for her 1985 follow-up album, 'It's Gonna Be Right'. Jam & Lewis were more involved with this album, and it had some great moments. The first single, 'Fidelity', resembled 'Encore', but had a harder edge to it, and it became known as 'Encore II' in some circles. In the end, 'Fidelity' wasn't a huge hit like it's predessesor, but if you were lucky to obtain the 12" extended mix like me, things would be somewhat better. It seemed as if Jam & Lewis were starting to use a 'formula' on many of their productions, and fans took notice to songs that sounded too much 'alike'. Hence, the performance of 'Fidelity' mirrored the success of Cheryl's 1985 album...Not a big hit!! This seemed to be a pattern for Cheryl Lynn during her career. The first release from her albums generally set the momentum (i.e. Tone) for the entire project(s), so maybe another song should've been released first. Other standouts included the title track, 'Fade To Black', and another standout ballad, 'Love's Been Here Before', that showcased the beauty of Cheryl's soprano. This would prove to be Cheryl's swansong for Columbia Records, and after 6 albums, she was free to move on to another label.