Producer Spotlight: Angela Winbush

Angela Winbush is an American singer, songwriter, and dynamic producer from St. Louis, Missouri. If her name doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps, samples of her hits will. Winbush’s music has been sampled by some of today’s hottest artists, such as Notorious B.I.G. featuring Jay Z, who sampled her hit “I Love You More” for his song “I Love the Dough,” which was a 90’s banger. Singer Avant sampled her and Rene’s love ballad “My First Love” and featured singer Keke Wyatt in 2000, earning the song a second spot on the charts. Sound familiar now?

As an artist, Winbush has had over eleven singles chart the U.S. R&B charts, three #1 singles, and two Soul Train nominations for single of the year for the album Sharp, which featured, the chart topping single “Angel, ” where she showcased her four octave range. The album spent twenty-eight weeks on the Billboard 200 and an exhausting fifty-one weeks on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Winbush started singing in her church choir as a child, and had no real passion for music. While attending Howard University, as an Architecture major, she realized she could earn extra cash singing and later formed the group Hot Tea.

The group opened up for various performers and sung background vocals for recording artists. Winbush changed her major to music, created a demo, and started shopping it around to various labels. The demo landed her a meeting with Stevie Wonder which forever changed her life. After joining Stevie Wonder’s group as a background singer, she later became his protégé. Through late night studio sessions with Stevie Wonder, she learned how to produce and arrange music and a new love was developed.

While visiting Los Angeles with Stevie Wonder she met singer Rene Moore. The two bonded and formed the duo Rene and Angela and released three albums, along with the single “My First Love” which received satisfactory reviews. After moderate album sells, the duo realized they’d be more successful as songwriters and producers, and a new journey began. As producers, the duo ruled the ‘80s and ‘90s with consecutive hits before splitting up due to creative differences. The duo produced hits for artists such as Stephanie Mills and Janet Jackson, giving Ms. Jackson her first top ten R&B hit, which reached number six on the charts. The twosome worked closely with Stephanie Mills, producing her first ever #1 R&B single for the powerful song “I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love.”

Winbush continued producing and arranging music after her split with Rene. Mills and Winbush would work together again. This time with Winbush creating the sensual hit single “Something in the Way You Make Me Feel” giving Mills yet another number one hit. Before parting ways Rene and Angela released their breakthrough album, A Street Named Desire on Mercury, which went platinum.

The duo had their first number one hit “Save Your Love,” with rapper Curtis Blow, and is considered the first R&B song to feature a rapper, as a result, creating a fusion of music that has paved the way for today’s sound. Winbush sequentially started working with the Isley Brothers, after Ronald Isley requested her for the group’s upcoming album. With her signature sound, the group’s Smooth Sailin album landed top 10 on the R&B chart. The success of the album solidified Winbush as the producer with the golden touch. Angela Winbush has carved a place in our musical past, present, and I’m sure the future through her effortless sound and timeless musical creations.

By Tashanea Whitlow

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