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Angie Stone
R&B


Singer/self-taught keyboardist/prolific songwriter Angie Stone's first claim to fame was being the lead vocalist on Vertical Hold's smooth urban dance track "Seems You're Much Too Busy." The A&M single hit number 17 R&B during summer 1993. Going solo, her debut album Black Diamond was issued September 1999 by Arista Records. There's definitely an ol' school and autobiographical vibe throughout the enchanting "keeping it real" release that 's exemplified by her hit ballad "No More Rain (In This Cloud)," which has samples from Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)." Stone has collaborated with Mary J. Blige, Jill Jones, D'Angelo, and hit producer Malik Pendleton, among others. Contributing to Black Diamond are Lenny Kravitz ("Green Grass Vapors"), former Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad ("Bone 2 Pic [Wit U]"), Stone's co-producer Aaron "Freedom" Lyles, Rex Rideout, Phil Temple, Gary Deveaux, DJ U-Neek, and Russell Elevado. The title of the first single, "No More Rain (In This Cloud)," was taken from a rebuffing phrase that her father would use when Stone would sometimes ask him for money: "There's no more rain in this cloud." Stone's ex-boyfriend D'Angelo (who also has a lot of ol' school influences in his hits) guests on "Everyday." The Columbia, SC, native began singing gospel music at a young age at First Nazareth Baptist Church. Her father, a member of a local gospel quartet, would take his only child to see performances by gospel artists such as the Singing Angels and the Gospel Keynotes. During her youth, Stone wrote poetry, played sports, and after high school graduation was offered college basketball scholarships. She also performed solitary "mirror concerts" in her bedroom while her recordings of her musical heroes, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Gaye, played in the background. Later on Black Diamond, Stone would do a gender bender cover of Gaye's "Trouble Man," the title track from the soundtrack of the 1972 Robert Hooks/Paul Winfield 20th Century Fox movie -- Gaye's sole soundtrack release. While working dead-end jobs, Stone began saving money to record her own demos at a local studio called PAW. She joined Gwendolyn Chisolm and Cheryl Cook in the rap trio the Sequence who recorded hits for Joe and Sylvia Robinson's (she of "Pillow Talk" fame) Sugarhill Records: "Funk You Up," a remake of Parliament's hit "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker" called "Funky Sound (Tear the Roof Off)," and "I Don't Need Your Love (Part One)." Soon after, Stone was working with futuristic rappers Mantronix and rocker Lenny Kravitz and formed neo-soul trio Vertical Hold, who first charted with the Criminal single "Summertime" (number 82 R&B in summer 1988). Besides "Seems You're Much Too Busy," the group's self-titled A&M album spawned the charting single "ASAP." Standout tracks on Black Diamond are "Heaven Help," "Man Loves His Money," "Life Story," and "Visions," which includes a sample from Ramsey Lewis and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Sun Goddess." To the list of super-talented ol' school-flavored female singers with unique feminine perspectives (Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill), add the name of Angie Stone. Ed Hogan

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