Melba Moore

Melba Moore
Born Beatrice Melba Hill[1]
(1945-10-29) October 29, 1945
New York City, New York, United States
Residence New York City, New York, U.S.
Years active 1966–present
Spouse(s) Charles Huggins (m. 1975–91)
Website Official website

Musical career

Instruments vocalist
Associated acts

Beatrice Melba Hill[1] (born October 29, 1945), best known by her stage name, Melba Moore is an American singer, actress, voice actress, and entertainer.[2] Moore is the daughter of saxophonist Teddy Hill and R&B singer Bonnie Davis. She is best known for the voice of the Whippet Angel in All Dogs Go to Heaven, and Tibi the Take it Back Butterfly in Yakety Yak, Take it Back, and Trash Talk.

Early life

Moore was born on 1945 in New York City, New York, to Gertrude Melba Smith (known professionally as Bonnie Davis) and Teddy Hill, and raised in Harlem, New York, until she was 9 and her divorced mother remarried jazz pianist Clement Leroy Moorman. She attended Newark Arts High School in Newark, New Jersey,[5] Graduating in 1958.[6] Her mother, Bonnie Davis, had a No. 1 R&B hit with "Don't Stop Now", prior to Melba's birth. Although her biological father was Big Band leader and saxophonist Teddy Hill, it was her stepfather Moorman (who played on "Don't Stop Now") who became a prime influence and encouragement in Moore's musical pursuits, insisting that she learn to play the piano. When she graduated from college she worked as a music teacher, but she soon decided to pursue the spotlight.

Early career

Moore began her performing career in 1967 as Dionne in the original cast of the musical Hair along with Ronnie Dyson and Diane Keaton. Moore replaced Keaton in the role of Sheila. In 1970, she won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Lutiebelle in Purlie. She would not return to Broadway until 1978 when she appeared (as Marsinah) with Eartha Kitt in Timbuktu! but left the show after a few weeks and was replaced by Vanessa Shaw. Following the success of Purlie, Moore landed two big-screen film roles, released two successful albums, 1970's I Got Love and Look What You're Doing to the Man, and co-starred with actor Clifton Davis in the then-couple's own successful variety television series in 1972. Both Moore and Davis revealed that the show was canceled after its brief run when their relationship ended. When Moore's managers and accountants left her in 1973, she returned to Newark and began singing in benefit concerts. Her career picked up after she met record manager and business promoter Charles Huggins after a performance at the Apollo Theater in 1974. They married in 1975.

Music career

In 1975 Moore signed with Buddah Records and released the critically successful R&B album, Peach Melba, which included the minor hit, "I Am His Lady". The following year she scored her first significant hit with the Van McCoy-penned "This Is It", which reached the Billboard Hot 100, the top-20 position on the R&B chart, and top-10 in the UK, becoming her biggest success in that country. 'This is It' also became the number 1 disco track in the UK for that year. It would be 18 years later that Australian singer Dannii Minogue will cover this song and make it to number 10 on the ARIA charts. In 1976 she scored her third Grammy nomination with the R&B ballad "Lean on Me", which had been recorded originally by Vivian Reed and later by Moore's idol Aretha Franklin who recorded the song as a B-side to her 1971 hit "Spanish Harlem". The song is most notable for Moore's extended long note at the end. In 1983 she re-recorded the song as a tribute to McCoy, who had died four years earlier. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Moore struggled to match the success of "This Is It" with minor R&B/dance hits, gaining another hit with 1979's "You Stepped Into My Life", which was released on Epic Records and hit the top 20 on the R&B charts.

In 1981 Moore signed with Capitol Records and reached the top 5 on the R&B charts with the dance-pop/funk single "Love's Comin' At Ya", which also hit the top 20 in the UK and became a sizable hit in some European countries for its post-disco sound and followed by "Mind Up Tonight" , which was another top 40 hit in the UK. A string of R&B hits followed, including 1983's "Keepin' My Lover Satisfied" and "Love Me Right", 1984's "Livin' For Your Love", 1985's "Read My Lips"—which later won Moore a fourth Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, making her just the third black artist after Donna Summer and Michael Jackson to be nominated in the rock category—and 1985's "When You Love Me Like This". In 1986, she scored two number 1 R&B hits, including the duet "A Little Bit More" with Freddie Jackson and "Falling". She scored other popular R&B hits including "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)" and "It's Been So Long". In 1986, Moore also headlined the CBS television sitcom Melba; its debut aired the same night as the Challenger explosion and the show was abruptly cancelled, though five episodes aired that summer. Her success began to wane as the decade closed, although she managed two further Top 10 R&B hits, "Do You Really (Want My Love)" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing". Moore had a starring role in the 1990 horror film Def by Temptation.

Current work

Moore returned to Broadway in 1995 landing a part in Les Misérables. A year later, she started her long-running one-woman show, Sweet Songs of the Soul, later renamed I'm Still Standing. In 2003, Moore was featured in the film, The Fighting Temptations, which starred Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles. In 2007, she landed a role in the Broadway revival of Ain't Misbehavin'. In 2009 independent label Breaking Records released the EP Book of Dreams, in which Moore was featured. That same year Moore told her life story on TV-One's Unsung and later that year released her first R&B album in nearly 20 years, a duet with Phil Perry called The Gift of Love. Her song called "Love Is" debuted on the R&B charts in 2011 at #87.

Personal life

Moore, a born-again Christian, engaged in a four-year relationship with television star Clifton Davis.[7] Davis later admitted that the relationship didn't work due to his drug abuse and mistreatment of Moore.[8] In 1975 Moore married Charles Huggins and the two formed Hush Productions. After 15 years of marriage, in 1991, Huggins abruptly divorced Moore leaving the singer in financial ruins.[9] In 1999, Huggins filed suit against Moore claiming that she had defamed him in the public as she stated that he abused her economically.[10]


In addition to her Tony Award, her music career brought additional accolades. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1971 for 'Best New Artist'. Her 1975 second album, Peach Melba, saw her get a Grammy nomination. In 1976, she earned another Grammy nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Female for the song "Lean on Me",.[11] Moore was also nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal in 1986 for "Read My Lips". Moore is also the 2012 Recipient of the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival Theatre Legend Award. Moore was inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame on October 4, 2015, in Detroit. Moore received the prestigious 2015 Sandy Hosey Lifetime Achievement Award during the Artists Music Guild's 2015 AMG Heritage Awards broadcast held on November 14, 2015, in North Carolina.[12]

Stage work




Year Album Chart positions Certifications
1970 I Got Love
  • Released: June 9, 1970
  • Label: Mercury
1971 Look What You're Doing to the Man
  • Released: January 29, 1971
  • Label: Mercury
157 43
1972 Melba Moore Live!
  • Released: July 21, 1972
  • Label: Mercury
1975 Peach Melba
  • Released: June 10, 1975
  • Label: Buddah
176 49
1976 This Is It
  • Released: April 13, 1976
  • Label: Buddah
145 32
1976 Melba '76
  • Released: December 2, 1976
  • Label: Buddah
177 30
1977 A Portrait of Melba
  • Released: November 6, 1977
  • Label: Buddah
1978 Melba '78
  • Released: September 29, 1978
  • Label: Epic
114 35
1979 Burn
  • Released: September 21, 1979
  • Label: Epic
1980 Closer
  • Released: July 20, 1980
  • Label: Epic
1981 What a Woman Needs 201 46
1982 The Other Side of the Rainbow
  • Released: October 10, 1982
  • Label: Capitol
152 18
1983 Never Say Never
  • Released: November 14, 1983
  • Label: Capitol
147 9
1985 Read My Lips
  • Released: March 22, 1985
  • Label: Capitol
130 30
1986 A Lot of Love
  • Released: July 18, 1986
  • Label: Capitol
91 7
1988 I'm in Love
  • Released: June 1, 1988
  • Label: Capitol
1990 Soul Exposed
  • Released: March 26, 1990
  • Label: Orpheus / Capitol
1999 Solitary Journey
  • Released: February 23, 1999
  • Label: Encore Music Group
2001 A Very Special Christmas Gift
  • Released: October 23, 2001
  • Label: Believe Music Works / Lightyear
2002 A Night in St. Lucia
  • Released: June 25, 2002
  • Label: Image
2003 I'm Still Here
  • Released: February 25, 2003
  • Label: Shout Glory
2004 Nobody But Jesus
  • Released: August 31, 2004
  • Label: Believe Music Works / Lightyear
2009 The Gift Of Love (with Phil Perry)
  • Released: September 29, 2009
  • Label: Shanachie
"—" denotes release did not chart or was not released


Year Album Chart positions Certifications
1979 Dancin' With Melba
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Buddah
1995 This Is It: The Best of Melba Moore
1997 The Magic Of Melba Moore (A Little Bit Moore)
  • Released: January 28, 1997
  • Label: EMI
"—" denotes release did not chart or was not released


Year Single Chart positions
U.S. U.S. R&B U.S. Dance UK
1970 "Look What You're Doing To The Man"
"I Got Love" 111
1975 "I Am His Lady" 82
1976 "This Is It" 91 18 2 9
"Lean On Me" 17
"Free" 14
"Make Me Believe In You" 6
"Play Boy Scout" 14
1977 "Good Love Makes Everything Alright" 36
"The Long and Winding Road" 94
"The Way You Make Me Feel" 108 62
"The Greatest Feeling" (UK-only)
1978 "You Stepped Into My Life" 47 17 5
"Standing Right Here" 69 53
1979 "Miss Thing" 90 41
"Pick Me Up, I'll Dance" 103 85 22 48
1980 "Everything So Good About You" 47
1981 "Let's Stand Together" 1 44 12
"Take My Love" 1 15
1982 "Love's Comin' At Ya" 104 5 2 15
1983 "Keepin' My Lover Satisfied" 14 57
"Mind Up Tonight" 25 17 22
"Underlove" 35 42 60
1984 "Livin' for Your Love" 108 6
"Love Me Right" 15
1985 "I Can't Believe (It's Over)" 29
"Read My Lips" 104 12
"When You Love Me Like This" 106 14
1986 "A Little Bit More" (with Freddie Jackson) 1 96
"Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love)" 5
"Falling" 1
1987 "I'm Not Gonna Let You Go" 26
"It's Been So Long" 6
1988 "I Can't Complain" (with Freddie Jackson) 12
"I'm in Love" (with Kashif (musician)) 13
"Love & Kisses" 68
1990 "Do You Really (Want My Love?)" 10 39 93
"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" 9
2011 "Love Is" 87
"—" denotes release did not chart or was not released

See also


  1. 1 2 "The HistoryMakers". Retrieved 2010-07-24.
  2. 1 2 McCann, Bob (2010). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. p237. the University of California. ISBN 9780786437900
  3. Adam White, Fred Bronson (1993). The Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. Billboard Books 1993. ISBN 9780823082858
  4. Jet. 107: 36. 16 May 2005. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Archived April 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book. 1998.
  7. Moore, Melba. "Moore on being a born again Christian". The Show Biz Wizard. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  8. Moore, Melba. "Clifton Davis tells of his relationship with Moore". People Magazine. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  9. Moore, Melba. "Huggins divorces Moore". MTV. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  10. Huggins, Charles. "Huggins files suit against Moore for Defamation". Cornell. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  11. "The Envelope - Awards and Industry Insider - -". Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  12. Awards, 2015 AMG Heritage. "Melba Moore takes home honors at the 2015 AMG Heritage Awards". Artists Music Guild. Artists Music Guild. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  13. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 377. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

Further reading

External links

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