The Chantels are singing on the Pop and Rhythm & Blues circuit capturing audiences across the nation with their unique sound. Hear them on their new CD Eternally.
The Chantels began their journey to stardom in 1956 by a chance meeting with Richard Barrett; lead singer of the Valentines, on New York’s famed Broadway. The five girls, Arlene Smith, Renee Minus, Jacqulyn Landry, Sonia Goring and Lois Harris had attended St. Anthony of Padua Elementary School in the Bronx, New York, and were members of St. Anthony’s church choir. Their unique sound was rooted in the liturgical music of that church, and the sounds of the boy groups that sang on the street corners of the Bronx. Barrett recorded the Chantels on George Goldner’s End Record label. “He’s Gone” backed by the “Plea” were released in 1957. The next release “Maybe” became a major national hit and made the Chantels stars overnight. The Chantels are also credited with recording the first Extended Play 45 rpm record. The Chantels then began a series of nationwide tours with Alan Freed and “Murray the K” Kaufman. They also appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
In 1959 after George Goldner’s record company folded, original lead singer Arlene Smith struck out on her own. The Chantels didn’t miss a beat and in 1962, released what was to become the group’s highest charted record, “Look in My Eyes” on the Carlton label and Annette Smith on lead, under the direction of Richard Barrett. This was followed by the up-tempo “Well I told you” which was a top 20 hit, with Barrett on lead, and was the answer to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.”
In December 1997, Original group member Jackie Landry Jackson succumbed to breast cancer. Although this was a major loss The Chantels decided not to replace her. Jackie was the heart of the group and was the glue that held The Chantels together. She is sorely missed.
Today, The Chantels, Sonia Goring Wilson, Lois Harris Powell, Renee Minus White and Ami Ortiz who joined the group in 1996, are among the most popular and requested singing groups, performing their numerous great hits. They are among the nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2010 induction. The group’s live performance in 1999 for the PBS TV special, “Doo Wop ’50,” which featured the best vocal group stars of the 1950’s and 60’s received rave reviews nationwide.
The Chantels have in recent years appeared at the world famous Apollo Theater, Radio City Music Hall, The Beacon Theater, The Tarrytown Music Hall, Symphony Space and the Norfolk Music Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York; Three Rivers Stadium, White Oak American Legion and the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA and numerous other venues on the East and West Coast. The Chantels had the privilege of appearing in concert at the World Trade Center in July 2001; and also appearing in front of an audience of 125,000 Girl Scouts of America at the Washington Monument in 2002 and again in 2007 in celebration of their 90th and 95th anniversaries.
Most recently, The Chantels have appeared at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ, The State Theater in Easton, PA, The American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA, The Cannery Casino in Las Vegas, NV, Prairie Meadows Casino in Des Moines, IA, The DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, DE; and the White Oak American Legion in Pittsburgh, PA for a repeat performance of their solo show.
In January of 2011 The Chantels returned to their native Bronx, NY for a performance at the Lehman College Concert Hall. This appearance was a thrill for both the Chantels and the audience.
The Chantels are honored to have received recognition and several awards for their contribution to music.
The Chantels were nominated for induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and again in 2010.
In 1995, The Chantels were inducted into the United IN Group Harmony Association’s Hall of Fame at Symphony Space, in New York City.
In 1996, The Rhythm & Blues Foundation awarded The Chantels its “Pioneer Award” at The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, CA.
In 2002 The Chantels were inducted into The Bronx, NY “Walk of Fame” where their name was officially posted on a the Street Sign at the Bronx County Court House. That same year The Chantels were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, PA.
In 2004 The Atlanta Doo-Wop Association awarded The Chantels “The Pioneer Image Award” for their contribution to Rhythm and Blues and Vocal Group Harmony.
In 2007 The City of Wildwood, NJ honored The Chantels with a Plaque and a Star on Wildwood’s Pacific Avenue of the Stars, celebrating those who have performed in that city.
These extremely talented ladies are also featured in the celebrated “Doo Wop is Alive” photo unveiled on February 3, 2000 at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC as a salute to the pioneers of the Rhythm & Blues and Doo Wop. They were greeted as the “sweethearts of the era!”