Cheryl Lynn is an American disco, R&B and soul singer known best for her 1978 disco song, “Got to Be Real”.
Lynn’s singing career began when she was a young girl with her church choir. However, her professional singing career started during 1976 when she obtained a job as a backing vocalist for the national touring company of the musical drama The Wiz. Eventually she would obtain the role of Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, during the six-month national tour. Prior to her appearance on The Wiz, Cheryl taped an episode of the Gong Show during the early part of 1976. She scored a perfect 30 singing Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”, a previous act (a singing juggler) had also scored 30 and in the audience applause tie-break the juggler was deemed the winner. After the episode was broadcast, during the autumn of 1976, record industry executives were calling to contract her.
After her performance on The Gong Show, Ahmed Ertegun of Atlantic Records company couldn’t come to an initial meeting with Lynn, with the result that she was contracted with Columbia Records company. Lynn released her first and best-known song, “Got to Be Real,” which was composed by keyboardist David Paich (of the band Toto), David Foster and Lynn. The song scored #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 record chart and #1 on the Rhythm & Blues chart. The success of the single album prompted a full scale debut album. Named Cheryl Lynn, it was produced by Paich. The album sold more than a million copies and scored #5 on Billboard magazine’s R&B albums chart and #23 on Billboards top 200 album charts. The next single off the album, written by Judy Wieder and John Footman, “Star Love”‘, also became a #1 success. Wieder and Footman joined songwriting forces with the artist for her second album, In Love (album) with “Got Just What You Need!” During this time, members of the rock music group Toto were producing their debut album. During the production Lynn was asked to provide the female backing vocal for the single album, “Georgy Porgy,”. The single scored #48 on Billboard’s popular music charts. Although Toto would go on to chart more than a dozen popular music successes throughout the years, it was Lynn’s vocal for “Georgy Porgy” that aided the group in charting their only R&B (#18) and Dance (#80) on the Billboard charts.
During 1981, Ray Parker, Jr. produced “Shake It Up Tonight”, a major dance & R&B success from Lynn’s third album, In the Night. The next year, Luther Vandross was asked to produce Lynn’s fourth album, Instant Love. The 2nd single from the album, “If This World Were Mine” – a 1982 duet with Luther Vandross that cover-versioned a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song, has become a classic. For her fifth album, Preppie, Lynn produced most of the tracks with the exception of the single “Encore” (#1 R&B ) – which was written and produced by the Minneapolis funk music duo, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. It became Lynn’s second #1 single . During 1989, Lynn released the top 10 single, “Every Time I Try To Say Goodbye”, from her eighth album, Whatever It Takes.
Lynn began the 1990s without a record contract. She did mostly session work for Richard Marx albums, Rush Street and Paid Vacation as well as Luther Vandross’ Your Secret Love album. But during 1995, after a six-year hiatus from recording her own material, Lynn teamed with producer/songwriter Teddy Riley, (formerly of the new jack swing music group Guy), to record her Ninth album, Good Time. It was released in Japan, the United Kingdom and later in the United States as an imported CD and featured the nightclub favorite single album “Guarantee for My Heart”. During 1996, Sony Records/Legacy released Got to Be Real – The Best of Cheryl Lynn, which included Lynn’s most successful recordings from her years with Columbia Records. This was followed soon by another compilation CD named, The Real Thing, which featured other recordings from Lynn’s first six albums. Two years later she performed on HBO’s Sinbad’s Summer Soul Jam 4 (1998), hosted by comedian Sinbad.
During the new millennium Lynn toured Japan and did an occasional gig in the U.S., performing at charity events in her hometown of Los Angeles. During 2000 she worked with hip-hop musician J Supreme on his single “Your Love (Encore)”, which was an update of her #1 1984 song “Encore.” She performed on ABC’s The Disco Ball…A 30-Year Celebration, which was broadcast during January 2003. During 2004 she recorded the song “Sweet Kind of Life,” which was also written and produced by Jam & Lewis, for the animated film and soundtrack to Shark Tale. On September 19, 2005, Lynn’s song “Got to Be Real” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. On May 23, 2006 Collectables Record Label re-released her 1981 album In The Night and 1982’s Instant Love, in twin CD package form. It was the first time ever that either album was released as a CD in the U.S.
Lynn is considered an influence on some of today’s R&B female singers, including Mary J. Blige, who, along with Will Smith, covered Lynn’s song (“Got to Be Real”), also for the soundtrack of the animated movie Shark Tale. Japanese popular music singer Kumi Koda cover-versioned the song for her July 2010 single album “Gossip Candy” as well. On April 11, 2010, “Got to Be Real” charted for the first time in the UK, peaking at number 70.
Columbia Records 1982
Tracks: Instant Love, Sleep Walkin´, Day After Day, Look Before You Lepa, Say You´ll Be Mine, I Just Wanna Be Your Fantasy, Believe In Me & If This World Were Mine.
Musicians on the Instant Love album: Cheryl Lynn, Yogi Horton, Steve Ferrone, Marcus Miller, Steve Love, Michael McGlory, Michael Sembello, Nat Adderley Jr., Ed Walsh, Steve Kroon, Paulinho Da Costa, Luther Vandross, Tawatha Agee, Phillip Ballou, Brenda White, Fonzi Thornton & Michelle Cobbs.
In The Night
Columbia Records 1981
Tracks: Shake It Up Tonight, Show You How, In The Night, Hurry Home, I´m On Fire, With Love On Your Side, If You´ll Be True To Me, What´s On Your Mind & Baby.
Musicians on the In The Night album: Cheryl Lynn, George Mitchell, James Gadson, Larry Tolbert, Marcus Miller, Ray Parker Jr., Scotty Edwards, Ray Parker Jr., Greg Moore, Wah-Wah Watson, David T. Walker, Michael Sutton, Greg Jackson, Sylvester Rivers, Darren Carmichael, John Barnes, George Dream, Michael Boddicker, Ollie Brown, Jimmy Brown, Arnell Carmichael, J.D. Nicholas & Sharon Jack.
Columbia Records 1979
Tracks: I´ve Got Faith In You, Hide It Away, Feel It, In Love, Keep It Hot, I´ve Got Just What You Need, Love Bomb, Chances & Don´t Let It Fade Away.
Musicians on the In Love album: Cheryl Lynn, Andy Newmark, Bernard Purdie, James Gadson, David Shields, Chuck Rainey, Jeff Lee, Cornell Dupree, Michael McGlory, Paul Jackson Jr., Bobby Caldwell, Paul Griffin, Richard Tee, David Foster, John Footman, Brian Becvar, Greg Phillinganes, John Cameron, Jean Roussell, Morris Pert, Chris Karan, Bobbye Hall, Michael Brecker, Delbert Langston & Sharon Jack.
Columbia Records 1978
Tracks: Got To Be Real, All My Lovin´, Star Love, Come In Form The Rain, You Saved My Day, Give My Love To You, Nothing To Say, You´re The One & Daybreak (Storybook Children).
Musicians on the Cheryl Lynn album: Cheryl Lynn, James Gadson, Bernard Purdie, David Shields, Chuck Rainey, Ray Parker Jr., David T. Walker, Steve Lukather, David Paich, Richard Tee, Marty Paich, Harvey Mason, Joe Porcaro, Bobbye Hall, Chuck Findley, Steve Madaio, Gary Grant, Lew McCreary & Dick Hyde.