Carol Williams

Carol Williams first achieved success in 1976 with her dance version of Kai Winding's 1963 hit "More" from the movie Mondo Cane. At a time when disco was still breaking into the mainstream, the Montclaire, NJ, native was one of few female vocalists in the genre to hold stake in other creative elements of her craft besides singing. Working with producer Vince Montana Jr., she not only selected a good share of material for her Salsoul debut album, 'Lectric Lady, but she also co-wrote three selections and acted as co-publisher. The input paid off, with "Come Back," the follow up to "More," which was co-written by Williams, becoming a club classic. Prior to scoring as a disco diva, the singer/songwriter had already paid her dues for over a decade as a live performer in her own Top 40 band and as a member of female soul trio the Geminis. The latter trio scored a small R&B hit in 1966 on RCA with "Get It on Home," and recorded further singles such as "I Hired the Girl" and "You Put a Hurting On" before moving to Brunswick. It was during a New Jersey hotel circuit stint, where she was performing six nights a week, that the opportunity for a solo deal arose. Williams' husband, Daverne, was Wilson Pickett's bandleader. His assistant received a call from Salsoul looking for a female vocalist in the vein of Gloria Gaynor, who was at the time hot on the success of disco hits "Honey Bee" and "Never Can Say Goodbye." Williams was chosen from all of the singers auditioning, and when the label learned of her history and reputation in the industry, they signed her to an album deal. With Salsoul pursuing disco full-blast via label acts such as Loleatta Holloway and Double Exposure, Williams felt stylistically pigeonholed. Desiring to diversify her repertoire to include more ballads and other genres, she parted company with the label shortly after the first album. Her first outside effort was appearing on producer Tony Valor's Love Has Come My Way album in 1978. A mellow disco album combining instrumentals with vocal tracks, Williams appeared on the title track, a significant success in Canada. This association led to a deal with the independent Roy-B Records for her second album, 1980's Reflections of Carol Williams. She finally got her wish to release a ballad as a single that same year with the plaintive pop number "One More Time" on Atlantic subsidiary Emerald. The single was backed by a tune originally intended for release by Phyllis Hyman, "Gotta Catch the Sun." Subsequently, she recorded a handful of successful dance singles for Vanguard, with "Can't Get Away (From Your Love)" becoming a quick crossover from clubs to airwaves and earning her a performance slot at New York's legendary Paradise Garage. That particular single was ultimately the result of a fluke. When the singer rejected producer Darryl Payne's idea to record a song called "Over Like a Fat Rat" as the follow-up to her successful "No One Can Do It (Like You)," he gave it instead to Fonda Rae -- who ended up having a smash hit with the song. When Payne came back with "Can't Get Away," Williams was quick to jump at the opportunity. In addition to her solo recordings in the early '80s, she performed as part of several studio groups, including Komiko on SAM and Lady Ritz on World Artists. The latter half of the decade afforded her a handful of other dance singles -- notably "What's the Deal" on New Image, which made considerable noise in Europe. In the late '90s, Williams began pursuing further her interest in jazz-oriented, easy listening styles, while continuing to actively perform live as part of numerous disco showcases and reunion events, such as a series promoted by Brooklyn's Arena Production: Music in Motion, hitting local spots like Casa Calamari. Hot Productions has reissued her Reflections album on CD, and many of her other singles can be found on compilation discs through Vanguard, Salsoul, and Castle. ~ Justin M. Kantor

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