Way way back from era long ago forgotten, in palaces (and, ummm, bathhouses) swept away by the sands of time, we danced the nights away to Viola Will’s disco cover of Stormy Weather, and her other big disco cover hit If You Could Read My Mind. I’ve un-earthed, via YouTube, the rare, ultra-difinitive, ultra long, ultra-maxi, ultra-uber versions.
She sang back up for Barry White, Joe Cocker, and Smokey Robinson before trying her luck in the UK, where she had a string of hits. Although she never achieved mainstream success in the US, her singles were popular at dance clubs, and had a loyal following in the gay community.
I was fortunate to see Viola Wills perform at two Gay Prides in San Francisco, where she held church and brought the house down.
This is what Viola Wills looked like, after having six children by the time she was 21! Amazeballz. She died in 2009 of cancer, but she left behind a beautiful musical legacy, and six shildren, 21 grandchildren, and 8 greatgrandchildren.
Long live Viola Wills!