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Born in November 1952 in the West London suburb of Wembley, England, Maxine Nightingale was just 16 years old when she began singing in her school band. Enjoying the spotlight so much, she swiftly made the transition to singing in a more professional capacity, appearing in a handful of local clubs and ultimately coming to the attention of Pye Records. Signing with the label, she recorded a handful of singles, including "Do Not Push Me Baby" and 1971's "Love on Borrowed Time." While neither song became a commercial hotshot, the experience only furthered the young singer's drive to succeed in her field.
Stepping out of the clubs, Nightingale spent the early '70s in theater, exploring her vocal development through roles in the era's hottest musical stage shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, and Godspell, as well as the well-received London play Savages, before pairing with the songwriter/production team J. Vincent Edwards and Pierre Tubbs in 1975. They proved to be the perfect pair to showcase her outstanding vocals, and after she signed to United Artists and debuted with their "Right Back Where We Started From," she found herself with a Top Ten U.K. hit in November 1975. The song was even more popular in the States, where it reached number two on the Hot 100 in early 1976.
Backed by an assortment of session musicians and continually partnered with songwriters who were able to best direct her voice, Nightingale's 1976 debut LP, Right Back Where We Started From, also proved to be a hit in the United States, although, oddly, it fell far short of expectations in England. With four singles, including the title track and fellow chartmate "Gotta Be the One," the album reached number 65 in the U.S. The following year brought the Denny Diante-produced Night Life album, which placed "Love Hit Me" (another U.K. hit) and a cover of the Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time" into heavy club rotation. Lead Me On followed in 1979, bringing her another U.S. chart appearance, this time at number five with the title single, released on Windsong. The Bittersweet LP followed the next year, leaving room for a fine compilation, It's a Beautiful Thing, to round up all the hits in 1982. That same year also saw Nightingale reach further peaks when she paired with R&B singer Jimmy Ruffin, best known for his 1966 standard "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," for the tender duet "Turn to Me." The song never registered on the pop charts, but in November gave Nightingale her first R&B Top 20 debut.
Nightingale subsequently ceased recording solo albums and focused on jazz-oriented performances. Throughout the early 2010s, she sporadically toured across the planet and occasionally recorded, as on Supertramp drummer Steve Reid's 2001 album Dream Scapes.