Caron Wheeler

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Caron Wheeler
Caron Wheeler at the 1990 Grammy Awards
Caron Melina Wheeler

(1963-01-19) 19 January 1963 (age 56)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
Years active1976–present
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • piano
Associated acts

Caron Melina Wheeler [1] (born 19 January 1963)[ citation needed ] is a British singer, songwriter, record producer and musician. Born and raised in London, she performed in various singing competitions as a teenager and began her recording career as one of the founding members of Brown Sugar. She was also one of the founding member of the female backing vocalist group Afrodiziak. She officially rose to fame in the late 1980s as lead singer of R&B group Soul II Soul. Managed by her bandmate, Jazzie B, the group became one of the London's best-selling groups in the 1990s. Their debut album, Club Classics Vol. One (1989), which established them as a global success worldwide, earned two Grammy Awards and featured the UK and Billboard number-one singles "Keep on Movin'" and "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)". [2]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Brown Sugar (group) British reggae girl group

Brown Sugar was a London-based British female vocal group who formed in 1976. The members were Pauline Catlin, Caron Wheeler and Carol Simms. Although short lived, the trio were influential and enjoyed unprecedented success topping the British Reggae charts on three occasions.


Following the exit from the group in 1990, she released her debut solo album, UK Blak (1990), which contained hits "Livin' in the Light", "UK Blak", and "Don't Quit". She continued her solo career with the release of her second album, Beach of the War Goddess (1993). Wheeler reunited with Soul II Soul in 1994, but left in 1995 due to creative differences. Throughout her career, she has performed on and off with Soul II Soul but officially rejoined them in 2013.

<i>UK Blak</i> 1990 studio album by Caron Wheeler

UK Blak is the debut studio album by British singer Caron Wheeler. It was released on 15 May 1990 by EMI Records. Recording sessions for the album took place from January 1990 to March 1990 at several studios, during the hiatus from her group Soul II Soul. As executive producer of the album, Wheeler took a wider role in its production, co-writing a majority of the songs, choosing which ones to produce and sharing ideas on the mixing and mastering of tracks. The album includes the single "Livin' in the Light", which reached the UK Top 20, plus three further singles, "UK Blak", "Blue " and "Don't Quit".

Livin in the Light 1990 song performed by Caron Wheeler

"Livin' in the Light" is a song from British singer Caron Wheeler's debut solo album UK Blak (1990). Wheeler wrote the song with N. P. Hail, and produced it with Afrika Baby Bam and Blacksmith. "Livin' in the Light" is a soul song that incorporates elements of neo soul, electronica, and 1970s-style funk music. Its lyrics describe people being dragged away from their culture and having to survive within a new surrounding. The song references slavery and reparations.

<i>Beach of the War Goddess</i> 1993 studio album by Caron Wheeler

Beach of the War Goddess is the second studio album by British recording artist Caron Wheeler. The album was released on February 23, 1993, by EMI Records in collaboration with RCA Records.

Described as a pioneer of the British soul scene, her musical repertoire is often characterized by themes of love, relationships, and empowerment, as well as black history. Her dynamic on-stage performances have led many critics to consider her one of the most effective singers in popular music. Throughout a career spanning 40 years, she has sold over 6 million records collectively as a solo artist and as a member of Soul II Soul. In June 2012, Wheeler was honored with the Heritage Award from Performing Right Society along with the members of Soul II Soul. [3]

British soul

British soul, Brit soul, or the British soul invasion, is soul music performed by British artists. Soul has been a major influence on British popular music since the 1960s, and American soul was extremely popular among some youth subcultures, such as mods, skinheads, and the northern soul movement. In the 1970s, soul gained more mainstream popularity in the UK during the disco era.

History of Africa aspect of history

The history of Africa begins with the emergence of hominids, archaic humans and—at least 200,000 years ago—anatomically modern humans, in East Africa, and continues unbroken into the present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states. The earliest known recorded history arose in the Kingdom of Kush, and later in Ancient Egypt, the Sahel, the Maghreb and the Horn of Africa.

Heritage Award

The PRS for MusicHeritage Award is a ceremonial plaque installed in a public place to commemorate a link between a famous musician or music band and the location they performed their first live gig. The UK-wide plaque is awarded and funded by PRS for Music.


1976–83: Brown Sugar

Carol Simms, Caron Wheeler, Pauline Catlin Brown Sugar 3.jpg
Carol Simms, Caron Wheeler, Pauline Catlin

Wheeler was born in England to Jamaican parents, and raised briefly in Jamaica. [4] When Caron was in high school, she and childhood friend Pauline Catlin began performing together for fun. Inspired by female groups The Shirelles and The Ronettes whom they hoped to emulate, they began performing together professionally. In 1976, Wheeler and Catlin eventually entered and won a singing competition at the Bali Hai nightclub in London. Catlin and Wheeler later added Carol Simms and the women began performing as Brown Sugar. [5]

The Shirelles African American girl group

The Shirelles were an American girl group notable for their rhythm and blues, doo-wop and soul music and gaining popularity in the early 1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Addie "Micki" Harris, and Beverly Lee.

The Ronettes American singing group

The Ronettes were an American girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York, consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett, her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes' most famous songs are "Be My Baby", "Baby, I Love You", "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up", and "Walking in the Rain", all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "Walking in the Rain" won a Grammy Award in 1965, and "Be My Baby" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Kofi (musician) British lovers rock singer

Carol Simms, better known as Kofi, is a British lovers rock singer who was a member of the group Brown Sugar prior to embarking on a solo career.

In 1977, Brown Sugar released their major label debut song "I'm in Love with a Dreadlocks". The song was a massive hit with sound system owners and reggae lovers and went on to reach the top spot in the British reggae charts. [5] Their self-titled album was scheduled to be released in 1977, but was shelved after the group disbanded due to the mistreatment by their recording label, Lover's Rock. In 1978, Caron reunited with Brown Sugar and embarked on a tour with Dennis Brown. Following the tour, the group released a series of singles: "Our Reggae Music", "Confession Hurts", "Dreaming of Zion", and "I am So Proud" in 1979. [5] After releasing their final single Go On Now in 1983, the group disbanded to further pursue solo careers.

In Jamaican popular culture, a sound system is a group of disc jockeys, engineers and MCs playing ska, rocksteady or reggae music. The sound system is an important part of Jamaican culture and history.

Dennis Brown Jamaican reggae singer

Dennis Emmanuel Brown CD was a Jamaican reggae singer. During his prolific career, which began in the late 1960s when he was aged eleven, he recorded more than 75 albums and was one of the major stars of lovers rock, a subgenre of reggae. Bob Marley cited Brown as his favourite singer, dubbing him "The Crown Prince of Reggae", and Brown would prove influential on future generations of reggae singers.

1982–88: Afrodiziak

In 1982, Wheeler met Claudia Fontaine, an English backing vocalist from Bethnal Green, London, England. They formed a duo known as Afrodiziak. [6] [7] The duo would only perform as session vocalists for other singers, most notably for Elvis Costello on his album Punch the Clock in 1983. Afrodiziak later toured as backing vocalists for Elvis Costello during his UK tour in 1983. After the tour, they became a group by adding singer Naomi Thompson. The group would go on to contribute background vocals for many artists including Heaven 17, Special AKA, Howard Jones, Japan, Aswad, Sam Brown, and Julia Fordham. [8] Wheeler would later withdraw from the group, in 1988.

Claudia Fontaine was an English backing vocalist from Peckham, London.

English people Nation and ethnic group native to England

The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.

Backing vocalist singer who provides vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists

Backing vocalists or backup singers are singers who provide vocal harmony with the lead vocalist or other backing vocalists. In some cases, a backing vocalist may sing alone as a lead-in to the main vocalist's entry or to sing a counter-melody. Backing vocalists are used in a broad range of popular music, traditional music and world music styles.

1988–90: Soul II Soul

In 1988, Wheeler met Jazzie B who asked her to become one of the founding members of Soul II Soul. At the time, the group consisted of Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Rose Windross, Doreen Waddell, Jazzie Q, Aitch Bee, and Nellee Hooper. The group began recording their first album in 1988. The following year, the group released their debut album, Club Classics Vol. One. The album spawned the major hits "Keep on Movin'" and "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)", which featured Wheeler as lead vocalist and sold over one million copies worldwide each. The album established the group as a viable act in the music industry, with huge sales and winning the group a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Album, Group, Band, or Duo, and two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Instrumental Performance for "African Dance", and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)".

In 1988, she sang backing vocals in the Erasure's song "Chains of Love".

In March 1989, Caron performed "Keep on Movin'" with Soul II Soul on Top of the Pops . She continued to tour with the group throughout the year but left Soul II Soul to begin recording her solo album.

1990-1993: UK Blak and Beach of the War Goddess

In early 1990, Wheeler secured a recording contract with EMI. Her first solo album UK Blak was released on May 15, 1990. The album sold 60,000 copies in the UK, debuted at number 14 the UK Albums chart, and has since sold 100 thousand copies worldwide. [9] The album's lead single, "Livin' in the Light", became Caron's first number-one single as a solo artist in the US. [10] The album also featured the singles "UK Blak", "Blue (Is the Colour of Pain)", and "Don't Quit", which also charted on UK Singles chart. [11]

In 1992, Wheeler returned to the studio and began recording her second album. She also recorded her lead vocals on a song entitled "Take Me Higher", which was featured on Soul II Soul's album Volume III Just Right. In October 1992, the album's lead single "I Adore You" was released with moderate success. The song was also featured on the soundtrack to the movie Mo' Money in July 1992. In February 1993, she released her second album Beach of the War Goddess . Wheeler's second album also spawn the singles: "In Our Love", "Soul Street", and "Beach of the War Goddess".

1994-1996: Return to Soul II Soul

In 1994, Wheeler was asked to rejoin Soul II Soul, for the recording of their fourth studio album Volume V: Believe. The lineup now consisted of Jazzie B, Charlotte Kelly, and Penny Ford. During the recording sessions, Wheeler and Jazzie B struggled with creative differences. Wheeler felt the group should have been producing more contemporary songs and not just replicating the old sound. However, the band retained the songs she had co-written but with other vocalists recording over her lead vocals. Wheeler was supposed to appear as the lead vocalist on the album's lead single "Love Enuff", but she opted not to finish the song. Fellow Soul II Soul member Penny Ford sang lead vocals with Wheeler only performing background vocals on the song. Wheeler ultimately left the group before the release of the album, but her lead vocals were still present on the songs "Ride On" and "Sunday". [12]

In 1995, Wheeler recorded "Just the Two of Us" as a duet with Japanese singer Toshinobu Kubota for his album Sunshine, Moonlight . The song peaked at number 30 on Japan's Oricon Singles Chart. [13] In 1996, a remix of "Keep On Movin'" was released and charted at number 31 on the UK Singles chart.

1997-2006: Music production

In 1997, Wheeler provided guest vocals on the song "You're Mine" for Eric Gadd's album The Right Way. [12] In 1999, Wheeler released a single "Star", which peaked at number 82 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs' chart. In 2001, Wheeler recorded the song "Open" with Pete Rock on the American hip hop production team Da Beatminerz's album Brace 4 Impak . In 2002, Wheeler was featured on Meshell Ndegeocello's Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape . [12]

In 2003, she performed the track "Another Star" to the Stevie Wonder tribute album Conception - An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder's Songs. She was featured on the song "Lonely" for Richard X's album, Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 . [12]

In 2006, Wheeler released her live album Live at Duo Music Exchange. The album was recorded in Japan and features live performances of her songs as well as songs Wheeler recorded during her time with Soul II Soul.

2007-present: Return to Soul II Soul

In 2007, Wheeler reunited with Soul II Soul, at the time consisting of Jazzie B, Aitch Bee, and MC Chickaboo. The group began performing at local nightclubs and music festivals. In February 2009, Wheeler toured with the group in Australia where they performed at the Playground Weekender Festival. In July 2009, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lovers Rock Gala Awards.

In 2010, Soul II Soul reunited for a reunion tour with the lineup consisting of: Jazzie B, Caron Wheeler, Rose Windross, Kym Mazelle, Charlotte Kelly, Aitch B, and MC Chickaboo. Following the conclusion of tour, Wheeler briefly departed from the group. In June 2012, Wheeler was present with the members of Soul II Soul when they received the honorary from PRS Heritage Plaque Award. [3] She also performed with the group during the ceremony.

In 2013, Wheeler officially returned to Soul II Soul and began touring again with the group as the lead vocalist. During her interview with Jools Holland, Wheeler stated that she will be recording new music with Soul II Soul.

In 2016, Soul II Soul released a single "A New Day", featuring Louie Vega, which is credited to Caron Wheeler and Jazzie B. [12] In November 2016, the group released a live album titled Origins: The Roots of Soul II Soul. [14] In 2017, Wheeler made an appearance on her former Soul II Soul colleague Simon Law's album Look to the Sky on the lead single "Morning Love".

Personal life

In 2004, Wheeler gave birth to her daughter Asha Star.


Awards and nominations


American Music Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Keep on Movin'"Favorite Soul/R&B SingleNominated
"Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"Favorite Dance SingleNominated
BRIT Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)"Best British SingleNominated
Grammy Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
"African Dance" Best R&B Instrumental Performance Won
Juno Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1991 "Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)" Best International Single of the Year Nominated
Soul Train Music Awards
YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 "Keep on Movin'" Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year Won
Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Single, Group, Band, or Duo Won


Lovers Rock Gala Awards
PRS for Music Heritage Awards

See also

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