The Chantels

Last updated
The Chantels
Origin The Bronx, New York, United States
Genres Pop, doo wop, rock and roll
Years active1957–1970, 1999–present
MembersSonia Goring Wilson
Renée Minus White
Lois Harris Powell
Ami Ortiz
Past membersArlene Smith
Jackie Landry Jackson
Annette Smith
Sandra Dawn
Helen Liebowitz Powell
Yvonne Fair

The Chantels are a pop music group and were the second African-American girl group to enjoy nationwide success in the United States, preceded by The Bobbettes. The group was established in the early 1950s by students attending St. Anthony of Padua School in The Bronx. The original five members consisted of Arlene Smith (lead) (October 5, 1941), Sonia Goring Wilson (born Millicent Goring) (1940), Renée Minus White (1943), Jackie Landry Jackson (May 22, 1941 – December 23, 1997) and Lois Harris (1940). They derived their name from that of school St. Frances de Chantal.



In 1957 the Chantels, then in high school, had been singing as a group for several years. Unlike some black groups whose influences were based in gospel, the quintet was influenced by classical music and Latin hymns. [1] Lead singer Arlene Smith had received classical training and performed at Carnegie Hall at age 12. [1] She provided both lyrics and music. [1] The girls were discovered by Richard Barrett, lead singer of The Valentines, and by the summer of 1957 they were signed to End Records, owned by George Goldner. [1] Their first single was "He's Gone" (Pop #71) in August 1957, written by Arlene Smith. [1] Released in December 1957, their second single, "Maybe," was a hit (#15 Billboard Hot 100; #2 R&B chart) in January 1958. It sold over a million copies and was awarded a gold disc. [2] The following releases were less successful but End did release an album originally titled We Are the Chantels. The original cover had a photo of the group. That album was soon withdrawn and repackaged with a picture of two white teenagers picking out a song; the title was shortened to The Chantels. [3]

The group was dropped by End in 1959, and Arlene Smith embarked upon a solo career. Harris left to pursue a college education. That year Chantels singles led by Richard Barrett were released on the End subsidiary label, Gone. [4] In 1960 Annette Smith (no relation to Arlene) replaced Arlene Smith. As a quartet the group moved to Carlton Records, where they had their second huge hit with "Look in My Eyes" (#14 pop, #6 R&B). Other releases on Carlton didn't do as well. One song was "Well I Told You," a response to the Ray Charles song "Hit the Road, Jack which stalled at #29 pop. [1] A Carlton album was released in 1962 titled The Chantels on Tour but featured no live recordings and only seven tracks were recorded by the actual group. The other three tracks were by Gus Backus, Chris Montez and Little Anthony & The Imperials. [5] [6] To cash in on "Look in My Eyes", End threw together an album titled There's Our Song Again, a compilation of previously recorded material. [3]

The Chantels switched record labels a few more times. Although personnel changed throughout the 1960s, the constants in the group were Jackie Landry, Sonia Goring and Renee Minus. This line-up, plus Arlene Smith, recorded a one-off single for RCA in 1970. Smith fronted a new group called Chantels in the 1970s which featured up-and-coming disco diva Carol Douglas and former Gems vocalist Louise Bethune (who would also become a 1970s performing member of The Crystals). Smith continued to perform solo. In 1995 the remaining original Chantels reformed as well and hired Noemi (Ami) Ortiz as their lead singer. On the PBS special Doo Wop 50, Smith reunited with the surviving original members of The Chantels and dedicated "Maybe" to Jackie Landry, who died in 1997.

The Chantels were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002. [7] In 2001 they made the final ballot for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, [8] but without enough votes for induction. Despite continued appearances since then on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballots by 1950s doo-wop groups, The Chantels did not get enough votes to reach any subsequent ballot until September 2009, when it was revealed that they were one of 12 nominees to be inducted to the Hall in 2010.




YearTitles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
1957"He's Gone"
b/w "The Plea"
71We Are The Chantels
b/w "Come My Little Baby"
"Every Night (I Pray)"
b/w "Whoever You Are"
"I Love You So"
b/w "How Could You Call It Off" (Non-album track)
"If You Try"
b/w "Congratulations"
b/w "Sure Of Love" (from We Are The Chantels)
Non-album tracks
1959"I Can't Take It"
b/w "Never Let Go" (from There's Our Song Again)
"Summer's Love"
b/w "All Is Forgiven"
"Goodbye To Love"
b/w "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)"
There's Our Song Again
1960"How Could You Call It Off"
b/w "Whoever You Are" (from We Are The Chantels)
Non-album track
1961"Look In My Eyes"
b/w "Glad To Be Back"
146On Tour
"I'm The Girl"
b/w "There's Our Song Again"
There's Our Song Again
"Well I Told You"
b/w "Still"
29On Tour
1962"Here It Comes Again"
b/w "Summertime"
b/w "Swamp Water"
77Non-album tracks
1966"There's No Forgetting You"
b/w "Take Me As I Am"
"You're Welcome To My Heart"
b/w "Soul Of A Soldier"
"Indian Giver"
b/w "It's Just Me"
b/w "He's Gone"
116We Are The Chantels
1970"Love Makes All The Difference In The World"
b/w "I'm Gonna Win Him Back"
Non-album tracks

Related Research Articles

Doo-wop Style of rhythm & blues

Doo-wop is a genre of rhythm and blues music that originated among African-American youth in the 1940s, mainly in the large cities of the United States, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, Detroit, and Washington, DC. It features vocal group harmony that carries an engaging melodic line to a simple beat with little or no instrumentation. Lyrics are simple, usually about love, sung by a lead vocal over background vocals, and often featuring, in the bridge, a melodramatically heartfelt recitative addressed to the beloved. Harmonic singing of nonsense syllables is a common characteristic of these songs. Gaining popularity in the 1950s, doo-wop was "artistically and commercially viable" until the early 1960s, but continued to influence performers in other genres.

The Isley Brothers American musical group

The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O'Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley in the 1950s. With a career spanning over seven decades, the group has enjoyed one of the "longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music".

The Shirelles African American girl group

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

The Flamingos

The Flamingos are a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted doo-wop group formed in United States. The band became popular in mid to late 1950s and are best known for their 1959 cover version of "I Only Have Eyes for You". They have since been hailed as one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop and doo wop music history.

Chess Records

Chess Records was an American record company established in 1950 in Chicago, specializing in blues and rhythm and blues. It was the successor to Aristocrat Records, founded in 1947. It expanded into soul music, gospel music, early rock and roll, and jazz and comedy recordings, released on the Chess and its subsidiary labels Checker and Argo/Cadet. The Chess catalogue is currently owned by Universal Music Group and managed by Geffen Records.

The Angels (American group) American girl band

The Angels are an American girl group that originated from New Jersey, best known for their 1963 No. 1 hit single, "My Boyfriend's Back".

Maybe (The Chantels song)

"Maybe" is a song with words and music originally credited to End Records owner George Goldner and "Casey". The co-writing credit was later transferred to Richard Barrett. Arlene Smith, lead singer of the Chantels, is believed to be an uncredited co-writer. It was first recorded by the Chantels on October 16, 1957, in a doo-wop style with Barrett playing piano, and released in December 1957. It climbed the charts in January 1958, reaching No. 15 in the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 in the Billboard R&B chart. It was subsequently described as "arguably, the first true glimmering of the girl group sound". Rolling Stone ranked it No. 199 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was also included in Robert Christgau's "Basic Record Library" of 1950s and 1960s recordings, published in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981).

The Marvelettes 1960s American girl group

The Marvelettes were an American girl group that achieved popularity in the early- to mid-1960s. They consisted of schoolmates Gladys Horton, Katherine Anderson, Georgeanna Tillman, Juanita Cowart, and Georgia Dobbins, who was replaced by Wanda Young prior to the group signing their first deal. They were the first successful act of Motown Records after the Miracles and its first significantly successful female group after the release of the 1961 number-one single, "Please Mr. Postman", one of the first number-one singles recorded by an all-female vocal group and the first by a Motown recording act.

Danny & the Juniors are an American doo-wop and rock and roll vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania originally consisting of Danny Rapp, Dave White, Frank Maffei and Joe Terranova. Formed in 1955, they are most widely recognized for their 1957 hit single "At the Hop".

Little Anthony and the Imperials

Little Anthony and the Imperials is an American rhythm and blues/soul vocal group from New York City founded by Clarence Collins in the 1950s and named in part for its lead singer, Jerome Anthony "Little Anthony" Gourdine, who was noted for his high-pitched voice. In addition to Collins and Gourdine, the original Imperials included Ernest Wright, Glouster "Nate" Rogers, and Tracey Lord, the last two of whom were subsequently replaced by Sammy Strain. The group was one of the very few doo-wop groups to enjoy sustained success on the R&B and pop charts throughout the 1960s. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009, 23 years after the group's first year of eligibility for induction.

Duke of Earl 1962 single by Gene Chandler

"Duke of Earl" is a 1962 US number-one song, originally by Gene Chandler. It is the best known of Chandler's songs, and he subsequently dubbed himself "The Duke of Earl". The song was penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards. This song was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Jackie Landry Jackson was a member of the Chantels, the second nationally successful black female pop music group. She died of breast cancer in 1997.

The Diamonds

The Diamonds are a Canadian vocal quartet that rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s with 16 Billboard hit records. The original members were Dave Somerville (lead), Ted Kowalski (tenor), Phil Levitt (baritone), and Bill Reed (bass). They were most noted for interpreting and introducing rhythm and blues vocal group music to the wider pop music audience. Contrary to a popular myth, the father of Tom Hanks was never a member of the group.

King Records (United States)

King Records was an American label founded in 1943 by Syd Nathan in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The label owned several divisions, including Federal Records, which launched the career of James Brown. It released original material until 1975.

The Midnighters were an American R&B group from Detroit, Michigan. They were an influential group in the 1950s and early 1960s, with many R&B hit records. They were also notable for launching the career of lead singer Hank Ballard and the worldwide dance craze the Twist. Between 1953 and 1962 the Midnighters had almost two dozen hits on the U.S. Pop & R&B charts. Their big hits included the million-selling Billboard Top 10 pop hits "Finger Poppin' Time", and "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go". The Midnighters also had 13 Top 10 R&B hits, including three that reached number 1. Their Top 10 R&B hits included "Work with Me, Annie", "It's Love Baby ", "Annie Had a Baby", "The Hoochi Coochi Coo", "Teardrops on Your Letter", "Get It", "The Float" and "Nothing but Good". They received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's prestigious Pioneer Award in 1992 and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. The Midnighters are also noted for achieving a music industry milestone in 1960, by becoming the first group in history to place 3 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. The group's lead singer, Hank Ballard, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. The Midnighters as a group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2012.

Apollo Records (1944)

Apollo Records was a record company and label founded in New York City by Hy Siegel and Ted Gottlieb in 1944. A years later it was sold to Ike and Bess Berman. Apollo was known for blues, doo-wop, gospel, jazz, and rock and roll.

Daddy Cool are an Australian rock band formed in Melbourne, Victoria in 1970 with the original line-up of Wayne Duncan, Ross Hannaford, Ross Wilson and Gary Young. Their debut single "Eagle Rock" was released in May 1971 and stayed at number 1 on the Australian singles chart for ten weeks. Their debut July 1971 LP Daddy Who? Daddy Cool also reached number 1 and became the first Australian album to sell more than 100,000 copies. The group's name came from the 1957 song "Daddy Cool" by US rock group The Rays. Daddy Cool included their version of this song on Daddy Who? Daddy Cool.

The Quin-Tones were an American doo wop group from York, Pennsylvania, United States. They had one hit record, "Down the Aisle of Love" (1958).

The Jackson 5 American pop music family group

The Jackson 5 is an American pop band composed of members of the Jackson family. The group was founded in 1965 in Gary, Indiana, by Joe Jackson, as well as by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine, with younger brothers Marlon and Michael joining soon after.

A girl group is a music act featuring several female singers who generally harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to denote the wave of American female pop music singing groups, many of whom were influenced by doo-wop and which flourished in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the decline of early rock and roll and start of the British Invasion. All-female bands, in which members also play instruments, are usually considered a separate phenomenon. These groups are sometimes called "girl bands" to differentiate, although this terminology is not universally followed.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "The Chantels". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  2. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p.  98. ISBN   0-214-20512-6.
  3. 1 2 "End Label Album Discography". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  4. Warner, Jay (2006). American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today . Hal Leonard Corporation. pp.  106-107. ISBN   9780634099786 . Retrieved 19 July 2017. The Chantels.
  5. "Carlton Album Discography". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  6. "Carlton Album Discography, Part 1". 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  7. "Inductees". The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Fojundation. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  8. Wiederhorn, Jon (2001-09-17). "Spirit Of '77: Ramones, Pistols Nominated For Hall Of Fame". MTV. Retrieved 2009-02-03.