After earning a perfect 30 on The Gong Show for her rendition of "You are so Beautiful" she had the record companies come calling. But that doesn't mean that she was able to become the superstar that she deserved to become.
I'm gonna have to say she suffered from the big girl syndrome, like Patti Austin, Martha Wash, Randy Crawford and many other huge talents. Record companies did not know how to market them and ended up marginalizing the careers of many a full-bodied woman. Adele has had the last laugh by becoming the biggest female vocalist of our time, but back then when Cheryl was releasing super high quality singles it wasn't easy.
Though her only huge pop hit was her debut single "Got to be Real" immortalized in the film Paris is Burning. It rode up the U.S. pop charts peaking at #12 and was the first of two #1 hits on the R and B charts. It took until 1984 with Encore for her to hit the peak again. 1981's smash "Shake it Up Tonight" produced by Ray Parker Jr. was another of her most memorable hits. It also proved her best showing on the Billboard dance chart peaking at #5.
Star Love from her debut album went on to be a classic at The Saint. I think of that one as a real Robbie Leslie record. While You Saved my Day is a legendary gospel tinged disco record that didn't get much play and was brought to my attention on a wonderful Frankie Knuckles compilation. It went on to become my very favorite Cheryl Lynn song.
Great Zip of Cheryl
On her 9 albums she worked with a lot of talents including Jimmy Jam and Terry lewis, Ray Parker Jr. Teddy Riley and Luther Vandross to name a few. She also sang background vocals or duets with the likes of Luther Vandross, Richard Marx and Teddy Riley. If this World were Mine her duet with Luther Vandross peaked at #4 on the R
and B charts in 1982.
To me she's the quintessential underdog. 9 album releases and if you asked the typical person if they've ever heard of her they'd probably say they hadn't. She deserves so much more. She's a true songbird of legendary status like the Gwen Guthrie's, the Minnie Riperton's and the Patti Austin's. They may not have had the hits but they got the respect, at least in the industry.
By 1990 she no longer hit the charts again, but people like me remember her fondly and hold her in the highest esteem.