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The Sweet Inspirations


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An all female American soul quartet, these ladies were some of the most prolific backing vocalists in 60’s R&B, literally singing on dozens of hit records for other artists. Originally formed with Philly vocalists Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Warwick and Doris Troy and Emily “Cissy” Houston.

With burgeoning solo careers Dionne and Doris soon left, but Cissy found the group new voices including Sylvia Shemwell , Myrna Smith and Estelle Brown and they ended up on records by Wilson Pickett, Garnet Mimms, Aretha Franklin and others.

According to the liner notes of their self titled debut album their name originated when Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler turned to Cissy Houston ( mother of Whitney Houston) and told her he had an inspiration, to which she promptly replyed, “oh, sweet!”

In 1968, the group did studio work for Jimi Hendrix during sessions for his Electric Ladyland album, performing backing vocals for the track “Burning of the Midnight Lamp”. They also backed Dusty Springfield on her album Dusty in Memphis.

Eventually even Cissy Houston left the group and in 1969 Ann Williams was brought in to replace her and the group toured with Elvis Presley, warming up audiences, and appearing during his show as backing vocalists.

The group had some chart success covering hits by other acts on Atlantic throughout the late 60’s, and into the 1970’s disco era they recorded for Stax and Robert Stigwood’s RSO label.


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