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DeLeon Richards, generally known simply as DeLeon, is a gospel singer who experienced remarkable success as a child star in the 1980s, though her recording career was bumpy and occasionally scandalous thereafter. Born on September 18, 1976, in Chicago, IL, she began her singing career at a young age, making her performance debut at age five at the Chicago Gospel Festival. An international tour in support of the Mighty Clouds of Joy followed. A few years later the young singer made her commercial recording debut with the full-length album DeLeon (1984) on the label Myrrh, a division of the gospel label Word Records. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award, setting a record for the youngest-ever Grammy nominee to date (age nine). Fame came quickly for the child star, who became a media darling during the mid- to late '80s, appearing regularly in magazines such as People and Ebony as well as on television shows such as The 700 Club and the Oprah Winfrey drama series Brewster's Place. Meanwhile, DeLeon continued her recording career in association with Word Records, releasing the follow-up albums Don't Follow the Crowd (1987), We Need to Hear from You (1989), DeLeon (1990), and New Direction (1992). Following her departure from Word Records, DeLeon's output became sporadic, including the albums My Life (1996) on Intersound and Straight from the Heart (2001) on Tommy Boy. Eventually she returned in 2007 with the album Here in Me on the independent label Arrow Records. ~ Jason Birchmeier


September 18, 1976 in Chicago, IL

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s