By Deardra Shuler
When I was a little girl my mother often sang the song, “I Wish You Love,” a hit that would become singer Gloria Lynne’s signature song. This song had special meaning for my mother and knowing how important the song was to her, it became important to me. I never thought when I became an adult I would meet and eventually befriend Gloria Lynne, but that is the way it turned out. Age can be taxing, and at 83 years old, Gloria Lynne’s body began to fail, even though her mind and spirit remained indomitable. Gloria fell ill. She was on the road to recovery when she was forced to return to Columbus Hospital, where Gloria Lynne, the great jazz, blues, soul and R&B vocalist and legend, succumbed to a heart attack on Tuesday, October 15th at 11:00 pm in Newark, NJ. Gloria’s funeral is to be held on Monday, October 28th at her favorite church in Harlem, Abyssinian Baptist, located at 132 Odell Park Place, (138th Street between Adam Clayton Powell and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvds). Church doors open at 12 noon and service starts at 1:00 p.m.
Over the years, I followed Gloria Lynne’s career, attending a few concerts, chatting on the phone and falling in love with the woman and her voice. What struck me about the glorious Miss Gloria was her strength, her charm and her ability to meet adversity with faith and each triumph with grace. Her talent was God given and Gloria knew it. Gloria worked her entire life, having last appeared at the “54 Below club” in August.
During her career, Ms. Lynne made nearly 400 recordings. She worked with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Mathias, Quincy Jones, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Burrell, the Delltones, Bobby Timmons, and Billy Eckstine, etc. She recorded songs like “The Jazz In You,” “The Folks Who Live On the Hill,” “I Am Glad There’s You,” “Joey Joey Joey,” “June Nights,” and of course her signature song, “I Wish You Love.” King Curtis wrote the blues song “Soul Serenade” just for Gloria’s voice and the song became a hit.
Gloria Lynne was a songwriter herself. She worked on Watermelon Man with Herbie Hancock, “All Day Long,” with Kenny Burrell and “Lend Me Yesterday,” with her friend and lyricist, Ann Rubino. She also sang the soundtrack for the movies “U-turn” and “Seven.”
Gloria Lynne was born Gloria Wilson in Harlem. She had 3 siblings. Her mother and father separated when Gloria was 3 years old. When she was 15, she won an Amateur Night contest at the Apollo Theatre by singing “Don’t Take Your Love From Me.” She recorded her first album to earn tuition for medical school. It was never her intention to have a musical career, but once the recording hit, her musical career was launched. She got into the record industry by doing demos for singers such as Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn. This enabled Gloria to get a recording contract with Everest. She was with Everest for 7 years. In the earlier days of her career, Lynne sang with an all girl group called the Delltones, later singing with the Enchanters. She performed with Harry Belafonte’s Strolling 20s TV special where she was in the company of artists like Sammy Davis, Jr., Nipsey Russell, Duke Ellington and Diahann Carroll.
So many artists of that era talk about the exploitation of artists by the record companies. Gloria was no exception. Most of her life, Gloria had trouble collecting royalties due her. In fact, as big as her hit I Wish You Love became, Gloria was never paid a dime. To make ends meet when living in California, she secretly worked at Bank of America, while keeping her recording career and night club appearances going.
Gloria married Harry Alleyne and from that union produced her sole heir and son, Richard P.J. Alleyne. She is presently survived by him.
An eclectic singer, Gloria Lynne had many fans from around the world enabling her to pack the house during most of her live performances. I will miss Gloria. She was a positive person in my life. She loved her fans and I know that on whatever other worldly plane her soul may now exist, she would say to us all, “I Wish You Love.” We wish you love too, Gloria.