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Cheryl Pepsii Riley

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Cheryl Pepsii Riley topped the R&B charts with the heart-stirring ballad "Thanks for My Child," a tune that connected with and seemed to speak for single mothers the world over. Because of the poignant lyrics, some believed that Riley wrote the song. Actually, "Thanks for My Child" was written by Full Force, the six-man performing/songwriting/production team from East Flatbush/Brooklyn, NY, who had a long run of hits for themselves, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, UTFO, Jasmine Guy, Lala, Samantha Fox, and the Weather Girls. Though Riley's interpretation was no doubt enhanced by her ten years as a nurse who worked with handicapped children. The genesis of "Thanks for My Child" began with Full Force member Bowlegged Lou's experience with the complications of his wife's first pregnancy. As pivotal as "Thanks for My Child" was for the singer's career, it wasn't the first song Lou offered to her. She refused his offer to record "I Wonder If I Take You Home" because she didn't want to spread herself too thin, but after it became a million-selling hit for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam in 1985, she thought she'd missed her big break. Then Lou offered her "Thanks for My Child." Riley still had her nurse's job when it single went to number one during fall 1988. The title track single to her debut LP Me Myself and I made it to number 18 R&B in early 1989. Another single, "Every Little Thing About You," peaked at number 55 R&B in later that year. Her second LP Chapters was issued and yielded the singles "How Can You Hurt the One You Love" and a cover of Aretha Franklin's 1968 hit "Ain't No Way" (with backing vocals by another FF-produced act, Ex-Girlfriend). Her third album All That! was released by Reprise, and featured the singles "Gimme" and "Guess I'm in Love." During the '90s, Riley appeared in nationally touring gospel plays. ~ Ed Hogan

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October 18, 1968 in Brooklyn, NY

Years Active:

'80s, '90s