Friday, 27 June 2014

Three Degrees Fayette-Gone Too Soon

                                     

In Loving Memory of Fayette Regina Pinkney

(January 10, 1948 – June 27, 2009). She is best known as a member of the all girl group, The Three Degrees along with, Sheila Ferguson & Valerie Holiday in the classic line up.When Fayette Pinkney met Richard Barrett in the mid-1960s, she had no idea of the journey she would be taken on. Mr Barrett, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was looking for. A solo singer and member of the Valentines in the 1950s, he had himself enjoyed chart success. Moving on from that, he had managed and produced such acts as Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Little Antony and The Imperials and also the Chantels, who he had discovered in 1957 and worked with well into the 1960s. The Girl Group explosion was only just starting then. By the mid-60s, it had taken over - three, sexy black girls being the usual formula - one singing lead while the other two shimmied away in the background providing a few oohs and aahs. But Barrett wanted more - and knew he could get it. He wanted three soloists -each with their own talent and individuality, who together could harmonise and sing any tune he threw at them. This was his vision - this was The Three Degrees. With Fayette as the mainstay for couple of years and after a few other ladies came and went, by 1967 the Group was settled. To Faye's sweet soprano, Sheila Ferguson added her sexy velvet tones which were both complimented by Valerie Holiday's soulful earthiness. Three amazing singers who could hold their own as soloists, but whose amazing blend and harmony would eventually rock the World.


This line-up would remain together for 9 years, until Fayette decided to leave the Group, both for her own personal reasons and also to pursue her education. During that time and especially with the added help of legendary Philly Producers Gamble and Huff, Mr Barrett and the Ladies became a musical tour-de-force. From minor soul hits on the Roulette Label, notably their remake of the Chantels' "Maybe", to huge Worldwide smashes for Philadelphia International Records; Dirty Ol' Man, Year Of Decision, When Will I See You Again - the list goes on - more in England, Europe and Japan than in their native USA, they quickly became the most popular Girl Group of the era. Live Shows - with Barrett conducting and acting as Musical Director - sold out in minutes. Worldwide travel was the norm. But for Faye, enough was enough.



 
Fayette Pinkey Billie Holiday  solo  from Three Degrees - Live In Japan album

She left the group in the Summer of 1976, for her own reasons which right now, are really irrelevant. She missed her family, that was for sure. Her brother, Nathaniel has said that she had a much longer career once out of the spotlight .After leaving the group, Fayette was a project coordinator for Opportunities Industrialization Center in North Philadelphia from 1979 to 1983. Also, in early 1979, she recorded her only solo album, "One Degree" in London for Chopper Records. It is a collection of up-tempo numbers and ballads which perfectly showcased all her talents, from lead to harmony singing. It was produced by Keith Mansfield and Geoff Morrow and was a project that she and her many friends and fans were immensely proud of. In 1984, he said, she earned a master's degree in human services, which required no undergraduate degree, from Lincoln University. After working as a personnel coordinator, she was at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1989 to 1994, first as an administrative assistant, then an education coordinator.Most recently, her brother said, she was an intake counselor for United Healthcare Services in Philadelphia, from 2001 to last month. She also continued to sing with her Church's Inspirational Choir and also with a unique Group called the Intermezzo Choir Ministry which gave her great joy and in her spare time worked as a Vocal Coach. She gave birth to a daughter, Ayana Alexandria in January 1994, but tragically lost her a few days later due to the mystery of SIDS. Fayette passed away on Saturday 27th June 2009 in Lansdale PA of acute respiratory failure. She was surrounded by family and friends. Fayette was all about PEOPLE. She loved them - and people adored her. Her warmth and genuine nature endeared her to everyone, fans, friends and family alike. Her eyes shone, her smile sparkled and anyone who knew her was blessed to have her in their lives.I know I was. She was my friend for 35 years - and I miss her dreadfully and always will. This quote from the lovely Lady sums it up completely - may she rest in everlasting peace. Heaven now has another Angel. God rest her Sweet Soul. "Yes, I do still love people and I love to make them smile. So many have been a blessing to me and I try hard to b a blessing to others. I've enjoyed being home and wouldn't trade my family for the world. This is quality of life. I have been through a lot but I know I am blessed." - Fayette Pinkney By Jeremy Levinson Posted with thanks to  . Precious Moments of Fayette, Sheila and Valerie - The Three Degrees Group!
Gary


3 comments:

  1. "Good Morning Heartache".....that's the way I feel about the loss of Fayette. She does a masterful, soulful, heart tugging rendition of the Billie Holiday remake. RIP dear one and only Fayette. She's not one in a milllion for there is/was no one like her. We (The Precious Moments of Fayette, Sheila and Valerie---The Three Degrees Group on Facebook) have a love for you that "Lasts Forever"......and will be remembered forever.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Jeremy for the tribute to the one and only beloved Fayette, you bring her to life again every time with this tribute as you included her quote at the end.......I confess that I am "flipped54", aka Gerard Heck.

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