June 3: Pop and Gospel singer Deniece Williams, "Let's Hear It for the Boy," is 61 years-old today.

June Deniece Chandler was born in Gary, Indiana. known by her stage name Deniece "Niecy" Williams is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and record producer who achieved success in the 1970s and 1980s. Williams, whose music has been described as Soul and Funk, is known for her hits such as "Let's Hear It for the Boy," "It's Gonna Take a Miracle," and for her vocal duets with Johnny Mathis.

Williams attended Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland in the hopes of becoming a registered nurse and an anaesthetist but dropped out after a year and a half. She also performed on the side during that time at a club, Casino Royal. In the 1970s, she became a backup vocalist for Stevie Wonder as part of "Wonderlove."

She left Wonder in 1975 and teamed up with producer Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and after signing to Columbia Records, her 1976 debut album entitled This Is Niecy was released. The single "Free" reached #2 on the Black Singles chart, #25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the British Singles chart. The album also featured "Cause You Love Me Baby" and "That's What Friends Are For."

She also shared a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with pop singer Johnny Mathis in 1978 with the duet "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late." The duet also topped the Black Singles and Adult Contemporary charts. Williams also topped the dance charts with her disco single "I've Got the Next Dance." Mathis and Williams also recorded the popular theme to the 1980s sitcom Family Ties, "Without Us."

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Song Bird


Williams moved on to the American Recording Company (ARC) in the early 1980s where she scored the top ten R&B smash hit "Silly" in 1981.

The following year, she another #1 R&B chart-topper with her remake of The Royalettes' "It's Gonna Take a Miracle," which became a Top 10 pop hit as well, reaching #10. In 1984, Williams released the album Let's Hear It for the Boy, in which the title track reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured on the soundtrack to Footloose. She also contributed vocals, along with Maurice White, to the song "And Then" from Weather Report's album Mr. Gone released in 1982.

Williams continued releasing albums during the 1980s such as Hot On The Trail, Water Under The Bridge and As Good As It Gets, which featured her last Top Ten hit to date, "I Can't Wait ," written by Skylark. However, in part due to a lack of promotion from her record label, her mainstream popularity faded.

Although Williams had recorded one inspirational song on almost each of her secular albums, it was in 1980 that her musical career path began change favoring Gospel music. Williams joined with friends Phillip Bailey (Earth, Wind and Fire fame), Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo to present a gospel show at a popular Los Angeles club named The Roxy. After that, both Bailey and Williams decided to pursue careers in Christian music.

In 1983, Williams and Bailey recorded "They Say," an atmospheric, slow praise song that builds towards the end with rousing words of praise. The song was written by songwriters Skip Scarborough and Terri McFaddin and received airplay on both Urban and Gospel Black radio. Williams later recorded the song with Christian artist Sandi Patti and won a Grammy for it.

In 1984, Williams sang a Gospel song at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards instead of singing her #1 hit song "Let's Hear It For The Boy" much to her record company's dismay.

After more than a decade Williams' new R&B album, titled Love, Niecy Style, was released on April 24, 2007 on Shanachie Records. Williams returned to Gospel music, charting again in October 2007. The song, "Grateful-The Redication," recorded with Wanda Vaughn of The Emotions and Sherree Brown debuted at #40 debut on the Billboard Adult R&B Singles chart. This was Williams' first entry on the singles chart since 1989.

In 2010, she released her album, Songbird.