Classics: Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mightly Real) (Fantasy)
In a falsetto style which has most definitely influenced singers like Byron Stingily and Kenny Bobien… Sylvester came to fame when signing under his own name on Fantasy Records in the second half of the 70’s.
The follow-up to his self-titled debut album released back in 1977 featuring his sought after cover version of Ashford & Simpson‘s ‘Over & Over’, ‘Step II’ marked a major step for him. Including the memorable ‘You Make Me Feel’ with Patrick Cowley on synths and production work by the likes of Harvey Fuqua.
‘You Make Me Feel’ remains arguably one of the top Disco anthems establishing him as “The Queen” of the genre. This in addition to other gems such as ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’, ‘I Who Have Nothing’, ‘Stars’ and ‘Menergy’ among others…
Born in Watts, Los Angeles, Sylvester James, Jr. first established himself as a child Gospel star through the choir of his Pentecostal church. He would leave the church after the congregation expressed disapproval of his homosexuality. And from then, he found friendship among a group of Black cross-dressers and transgender women who called themselves The Disquotays. Movin’ to San Francisco, he fronted avant-garde drag troupe The Cockettes. And while touring in New York, he set up his own group (Sylvester & The Hot Band). He soon after met Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes who became his background singers (also known as Two Tons Of Fun) in addition to Jeanie Tracy.
After two albums on Blue Thumb which went unsuccessful, he therefore went solo, signing a deal with producer Harvey Fuqua of Fantasy Records. He released 6 albums for the label between 1977 and 1981. There, he rose to fame with classics such as ‘You Make Me Feel’, ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’ which Louie Vega recently remixed, and ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’. But also ‘I Need You’ and ‘Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait)’, a Paradise Garage anthem, along with Jeanie Tracy. Not to mention his vibrant version of ‘Over And Over’. He then switched to Megatone Records, working with producer Patrick Cowley. This giving birth to the memorable ‘Do You Wanna Funk’.
The flamboyant singer, also known as The Queen Of Disco, sadly died on Dec. 16, 1988, aged 41, after a long battle against AIDS. (*) In 2005, he was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, while his life has been recorded in a biography and made the subject of both a documentary and a musical. (* Wikipedia)