Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vanessa Williams • The Right Stuff

Vanessa Williams Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams

It all happened so quickly, it was almost hard to digest. My mother was a big fan of the Miss America pageant, so I kinda grew up on them. I remember watching the 1984 pageant, and cheering Vanessa Williams on. She was gorgeous and talented, and should be the winner. To my surprise, she was crowned, and became the first ever African American contestant to earn the crown. However, just shy of a a full year, pictures were purchased by Penthouse magazine, who obviously wanted to take advantage of the publicity generated, and soon Vanessa stepped down as Miss America, and many thought she would not be seen again. I hoped not, for I loved her. She had already been making guest appearances on various television shows, and in 1995 was cast in a television version of Broadway musical, Bye Bye Birdie. In 1988, she released her first album, The Right Stuff. No one was sure how the album would fare, but no one need to worry. The album was certified Gold, and helped secure her place as an R&B signer of note. The first single off the album was the title cut, and it certainly announced her arrival. The song made it to #44 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the R&B chart, and #1 on the US Dance chart. Here is the video for The Right Stuff.

Her third single off the album is the slow and sexy Dreamin'. The song, written by Lisa Montgomery and Geneva Paschal, captured the heart and souls of many, making it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and topped the Billboard R&B chart. It was being played on radio stations across the world, and firmly establishing Williams as a talent that would be on the charts for years to come.

Continuing the trend of hit songs, Running Back To You went to #18 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the R&B chart, and #2 on the US Dance chart. It has a strong R&B groove, and perfect vocals from Vanessa.

The last song I'll focus on today will be The Comfort Zone. The title track off the second album from Williams, the song topped out at #62 Billboard Hot 100, but ran up to #2 on the Billboard R&B chart, and #25 on the Dance chart. The song had a sultriness that is hard to miss.

While this really only includes songs off her first two albums, The Right Stuff and The Comfort Zone, these four songs also happen to be the first 4 cuts off Vanessa Williams' Greatest Hits: The First Ten Years album, released in 1998. You can purchase the album off iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Vanessa Williams and her music, visit the official website.

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