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The Jones Girls

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Valerie, Shirley, and Brenda Jones, collectively known as the Jones Girls, spent more than ten years in the music business before they tasted success of their own. During that time, however, their voices graced the records and stage performances of dozens of established stars, including Diana Ross and Betty Everett. By the mid-'80s, the group had nine charting R&B singles, including the Top 10 hits "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else" and "I Just Love the Man," as well as the deep classics "Who Can I Run To" and "Nights Over Egypt."

The daughters of Detroit-based gospel singer Mary Francis Jones, Valerie, Shirley, and Brenda spent years singing on other artists' recording sessions in Detroit, and later in Los Angeles. The trio first tried making their own records for the tiny Fortune label in Detroit during the '60s with no success. They moved to Hot Wax-Invictus, the company formed by Holland-Dozier-Holland, during the latter part of the decade, but sales of those records weren't much more encouraging.

It was during this period that session work came to dominate their activities — the Jones Girls were in heavy demand to sing on other artists' singles. In 1973, they were signed to the Curtom Records subsidiary imprint Gemigo, a label that was originally organized as an outlet for Leroy Hutson's activities as a producer and arranger. "If You Don't Love Me No More," their debut single, wasn't especially popular, but it led to a follow-up record, "Will You Be There," that proved extremely important. The single never sold but its arranger, Gil Askey, who was working for Diana Ross, recommended the Jones Girls as backup singers for her on tour for a series of engagements that lasted two years and brought them some valuable exposure. Ironically enough, Curtom was sitting on an entire LP cut by the trio that never got released. One of the songs off the album, "Hey Lucinda," was issued as a single, but it did less well for the Jones Girls than it did for Betty Everett, who later recorded her vocals over their backing track for her version of the song, which did chart.

Their performances with Diana Ross opened up many doors, however, including a contract with Philadelphia International Records at the end of the '70s. The trio cut four LPs in their three years with the label, enjoying a string of hits around them including "You're Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else," "Better Things to Do," "Nights Over Egypt," and "I Just Love the Man." They later left Philadelphia International for an offer from RCA, but their sales at the new label were poor. The trio never recaptured the moment they had at the end of the '70s and the beginning of the '80s. Shirley Jones, who was the first of the trio to record singly, with an entire album for Philadelphia International, continued to carve out a separate career. Valerie died in 2001. ~ Bruce Eder & Andy Kellman, Rovi