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Issue 1084

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Feature

Joyce Vincent: A love Supreme

Joyce Vincent (Supremes) Photo: Eric Iversen
Joyce Vincent (Supremes) Photo: Eric Iversen Lynda Lawrence, Scherrie Payne, Joyce Vincent (F.L.O.S) Photo: Erik Iversen Lynda Lawrence, Joyce Vincent, Scherrie Payne (F.L.O.S) Photo: Erik Iversen Tony Orlando & Dawn (Photo: Erik Iversen) Sharon Davis & Joyce Vincent Scherrie Payne, Joyce Vincent, Lynda Lawrence (F.L.O.S) Photo: Erik Iversen Scherrie Payne, Joyce Vincent, Lynda Lawrence (F.L.O.S) Photo: Erik Iversen Joyce Vincent, Scherrie Payne & Lynda Lawrence (F.L.O.S) Photo: Erik Iversen Tony Orlando & Dawn

I first met this lady last November when she performed in London as the newest member of The Former Ladies Of The Supremes. Although she wasnât a member of Motownâs Supremes, she actually came very close when it was hinted sheâd join Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene to fill the vacancy left by Mary Wilson in 1977. Sadly, it wasnât to be then!

But in 2009, that all changed because she replaced Freddi Poole to became a member of the trio thatâs authentically keeping the legend alive. However, she doesnât claim to be an original Supreme and never has done - unlike others I could mention. In fact, she goes to great lengths to make this very clear when speaking to people. So, it was a great pleasure to meet her and now to bring you this interview with - Miss Joyce Vincent.

Stalwart Motown fans will know Joyce was, in fact, a member of the companyâs family back in 1964, and this is where we came in. âYes, I was in the Debonaires with two other friends, Dorothy Garland and Elsie Baker. Later on, down the line, the record executives felt we needed a lead singer, so they added a lady named Diane Hogan. We had local hits around town, and we recorded quite a few things. We stayed together until the other girls started getting married, and thatâs when Telma Hopkins and I began doing sessions. My first session with Telma was for Jack Ashford of the Funk Brothers! We always did sessions with three girls so eventually my mom suggested my younger sister Pam. She was fourteen years old when we took her into the studio. It was magic because it just worked! It went so well that Pam was giving us our notes and giving us directions!â Two Debonairesâ titles that spring to mind are âPlease Donât Say Weâre Throughâ and âEenie Meenie Gypsaleenieâ released on Golden World. This was, Joyce said, her first experience as a professional singer, and she still remains friendly with the group, usually seeing them every year when she returns to Detroit. From the group environment, Joyce became in demand as a session singer, as she further explained. âI did a few background sessions at Motownâs Studio A, and one of the artists I worked with was Barrett Strong. I didnât do a lot of sessions at Motown because we were in demand session singers, and worked for different labels all over the city of Detroit. We also travelled to New York, Memphis and Chicago!â

As Joyce has mentioned her sister Pam, letâs fill in a few gaps here. She was born in Detroit on 14 December to Laura and John Vincent Jr, and her siblings are (in birth order) â Melvin, (Joyce), Aaron, Pam and Rodney. The family was music orientated, she told me. âMy dad was a jazz bass player and I have been around music from the time I was conceived. We always had jazz and gospel playing in the house. I wasnât in a church choir, (but) I started singing in Jr high school in the glee club. From there I went on to do sessions, and have never stopped. As a matter of fact I did one last night!â

We then talked about her next musical adventure, that with the group Dawn with Tony Orlando. âWow! I have so many fond memories that really stick out. The way that we came together is one of them. Tony had hits as Dawn before we were a group, the first being âCandidaâ. The song became a big hit! And there was no group â only Tony Orlando. They did a follow-up called âKnock Three Timesâ, and this too was a massive hit. The record company approached Tony to promote the songs and tour, but he first had to put Dawn together. He met Telma Hopkins first. She was working with Isaac Hayes. When he approached Telma, she turned him down. So Tony asked her â âwhat would it take for you to agree to be in Dawn? . She responded â âa European tourâ. Tony then goes and books a tour, and tells her âI have a tour now, do you know anyone else for the group?â She suggested me! Tony sent for me to come to New York, and we became Dawn, and two weeks later we were in Europe and the rest is history!â As well as the runaway â and by the sounds of it, unexpected â hits, the group enjoyed a successful tv show in the US which, Joyce admitted was hard work, although the upside was she got to meet all the great artists who guested.

From Dawn, Joyce returned to full time session singing â âI have worked with so many people. And I never stopped performing on-stageâ. And it was during this time that she worked for Invictus Records, providing support vocals for Freda Payne, notably on âBand Of Goldâ. Joining Joyce were her sister Pam and Fredaâs sister Scherrie, while other tracks bearing her voice include several by The Chairmen Of The Board. They had so much fun in the studios, she admitted, but learned loads by watching in awe as Holland, Dozierand Holland, created one hit sound after another, in much the same manner as they did while flying the Motown flag. Scherrie Payne and Joyce became close pals, and it was she who was instrumental in Joyce joining the Former Ladies Of The Supremes. In actual fact, Joyce first stepped in for Freddi Poole in 2007, before slipping into a fabulous Michael Travis gown permanently two years later. But Iâll let her explain how it all came about. âYes, I had worked with the FLOS on numerous occasions as an additional background vocalist, and even filled in as a substitute when they needed a third member. I have also done back up for Scherrie when sheâs done solo work. Then I was honoured at being asked to join the group. My first performance was nerve racking. It came so fast! They called me to substitute on a Japanese tour. Within twenty-four hours I was on a plane headed for Japan! The saving grace was that I knew the songs â I grew up with them! When they called and asked me to officially join the group a few years later, I was flattered. And my response was yes!â Joyceâs first official performance was in Spain on 9 October 2009. âIt was wonderful. The audience was awesome, they love this group. Since joining we have been to so many wonderful places, like Italy, Monte Carlo, and of course, the UK. The Divas Of Motown tour was fantastic! Seeing Jack Ashford again brought back so many wonderful memories.â

As if this wasnât enough to keep a gal occupied, Joyce and Pam also perform with The Inspirational Voices Of Free choir, and theyâre members of the newly formed supergroup Tour de4Force, where they complete the membership with Jim Gilstrap, Theresa Davis and of course, Scherrie. Produced by Marcia Parks, the group released their stunning debut cd âQuiet Moonâ which also included (the late) Al Ollie Woodson. âIâm very proud of this projectâ Joyce smiled. âThe industry is so different today and I think the cd will have a chance if itâs pushed properly.â

With all these projects being balanced in her working life, does she ever have time to chill out, to recharge her batteries, and if so, how? âI chill by bakingâ she laughed. âI love to bake because it relaxes me. I also love to read, and Iâm never without a book.â Then she added there was one thing she very much looked forward to doing this year - meeting the FLOSâ fans. âIâve already met so many of them, and they have accepted me with open arms. Iâm also looking forward to travelling the world. They perform in so many exotic and wonderful places I have never been. Going to Monte Carlo was wonderful; they had the best perfume, and we stayed in fabulous hotel suites.â I also asked her if there was something she would have changed in her career or life? A resounding ânoâ. âIâve always done what I have a desire to do and that is to sing. And Iâve never stopped doing it!â

And this leads nicely into The Former Ladiesâ future recording plans. Theyâre currently in the studio with Lynda Laurenceâs son Trevor, whoâll be producing an album with them. Several tracks are completed but Iâm not able to elaborate on this now. However, when thereâs more to tell, youâll read it here first!

Thank you Joyce; it was great to meet you, and lovely to chinwag. I very much hope to catch up with you, Lynda and Scherrie real soon.

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Words SHARON DAVIS

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