November 5, 1946
🇺🇸 Chicago, IL
March 21, 2011
Loleatta Holloway was an American singer known for disco songs such as "Hit and Run" and "Love Sensation". In December 2016, Billboard named her the 95th-most successful dance artist of all time. According to the Independent, Holloway is the most sampled female singer in popular music, used in house and dance tracks such as the 1989 Black Box single "Ride on Time".
Holloway began singing gospel with her mother in the Holloway Community Singers in Chicago and recorded with Albertina Walker in the Caravans gospel group between 1967 and 1971. Holloway was also a cast member of the Chicago troupe of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope. Around this time, she met her future producer, manager, and husband Floyd Smith, and recorded "Rainbow '71" in 1971, a Curtis Mayfield song that Gene Chandler had recorded in 1963. It was initially released on the Apache label, but was picked up for national distribution by Galaxy Records.
In the early 1970s, Holloway signed a recording contract with the Atlanta-based soul music label Aware, part of the General Recording Corporation (GRC), owned by Michael Thevis. Holloway recorded two albums for the label, both of them produced by Floyd Smith - Loleatta (1973) and Cry to Me (1975). Her first single from the second album, the ballad, "Cry to Me" rose to No. 10 Billboard R&B and No. 68 on the Hot 100, but before the label could really establish Holloway, it went out of business.
Top Philadelphia arranger and producer Norman Harris signed Holloway in 1976 for his new label, Gold Mind, a subsidiary of New York's Salsoul Records. The first release from the album Loleatta was another Sam Dees ballad, "Worn Out Broken Heart," which reached No. 25 R&B, but the B-side, "Dreaming," climbed to No. 72 on the pop chart and launched her as a disco act.
She contributed vocals to "Relight My Fire" for Dan Hartman, who then wrote and produced the title track of her fourth and final album for Gold Mind, Love Sensation (1980). 18 of her songs charted on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including four #1s. However, it was a ballad that proved to be another big R&B hit for her. "Only You" was written and produced by Bunny Sigler, who also sang with Holloway on the track, and it reached No. 11 in 1978.
In the early 1980s, Holloway had another dance hit with "Crash Goes Love" (#5 on the U.S. Dance chart, No. 86 on the US R&B Chart). She also recorded one single, "So Sweet," for the fledgling house-music label DJ International Records.
The Italian house music group Black Box sampled Holloway's "Love Sensation" vocals for their 1989 single "Ride on Time". In the UK, it topped the singles chart for six weeks and became the year's bestselling single. The sample was used without permission; according to several sources, Holloway reached a settlement and was paid damages. However, one of the "Ride on Time" producers said in 2018 that Holloway "never saw a penny" and that only Salsoul, the owner of the master, had received payment.
Holloway resented the "Ride on Time" episode, and said: "I've been around for years trying to get this one hit record. It annoyed me knowing that Black Box were number one and I was not getting any credit for it." She also expressed frustration that Black Box were paid more for performances than her, even after she was billed as "the voice of Black Box". Davoli said he regretted not meeting Holloway before her death in 2011, and would have liked to apologise "for how messy things got".
Holloway's fortunes dramatically improved, however, when she had her first US No. 1 hit when Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch featured her vocals in the chart-topping "Good Vibrations" (1991). According to Andrew Barker in Variety (March 22, 2011), Holloway performed with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch to promote the single and she received full vocal credit as well as a share of the royalties. This was shortly after the backlash against various acts such as Milli Vanilli and the groups that used the vocals of Martha Wash, but refused to give her credit until she sued.
In 1992, Holloway had a hit with the dance band Cappella. There, she appeared billed alongside Cappella on the single "Take Me Away" (UK #25).
More recent dance chart entries included "Share My Joy" (Credited to "GTS Featuring Loleatta Holloway"), "What Goes Around Comes Around" (credited to "GTS Featuring Loleatta Holloway") in 2000, and "Relight My Fire" (credited to "Martin featuring Holloway"), which hit No. 5 in 2003. While not a single, "Like a Prayer", a Madonna cover, was a track on the Madonna tribute album Virgin Voices. The song "Love Sensation '06" and reached No. 37 on the UK Singles Chart.