Biography of The Emotions
In the 1950s
in Chicago, Illinois, Joe and Lillian Hutchinson began raising
a family filled with love, creativity and talent. Born in this
decade were three ladies considered by the rest of us as true
legends and national treasures collectively known as The Emotions.
Jeanette, Wanda and Sheila Hutchinson began singing at ages three,
four and five under the tutelage of their father. Joe Hutchinson,
Sr. had his little girls singing from sun up to sun down. This
is the foundation of the intricate harmonies and solid musicianship
that has given The Emotions their sound which is recognized by
so many today.
In the early
years, the Hutchinson girls sang gospel with their dad in churches
and on radio shows all around their native Chicago. Joe, Jeanette,
Wanda & Sheila even performed for the legendary Mahalia Jackson.
They also appeared on a local television show, The Jerry
Van Dyke Show, in Terre Haute, Indiana. In addition to this
appearance, The Hutchinsons recorded several commercials for Al
Abrams Pontiac. During this time the Hutchinson act appeared under
several names including, Three Ribbons and a Bow, The Heavenly
Sunbeams and The Hutchinson Sunbeams.
As the later
part of the 1960s rolled around, The Hutchinson Sunbeams
evolved into what we know today as The Emotions. Jeanette, Wanda
and Sheila recorded several singles for local labels giving the
group more notoriety in their region of the country. Pervis Staples
and The Staples Singers were very influential in the next step
that was taken by the act. The group appeared in a talent contest
at the Regal Theater in Chicago. That evening, The Emotions won
the contest and were signed to the Stax / Volt label.
Papa Joe packed
up the girls and they were off to record their first album for
a major record company, Stax / Volt Records. The Emotions released
the song So I Can Love You from the album of the same
name in 1969. This was an immediate success for The Emotions.
They were ecstatic to hear comments from their school friends
telling them that they heard their song on the radio. So
I Can Love You was not only a successful recording for the
group, but sister, Sheila Hutchinson, wrote it.
the successful So I Can Love You project, The Emotions
were on a hot streak and teamed up with producers Isaac Hayes
and David Porter for their next big hit single at Stax / Volt,
titled, Show Me How from the album Untouched
released in 1971. The Emotions were running up the charts consistently
with hit records. By this time, The Emotions had definitely proven
themselves as an asset at Stax / Volt and began recording a third
album for the label, Songs of Innocence and Experience.
Unfortunately, Stax / Volt was beginning to experience some financial
difficulties and the album was never released, however almost
all of the songs recorded for that album were released as singles,
many of which charted and kept The Emotions name out there.
Also at this time, oldest sister, Jeanette took some time off
to begin her family. Theresa Davis, who toured and performed with
Wanda and Sheila, replaced her for a few years. Later in the 1970s
Stax released a collection of previously recorded songs by The
Emotions. This released material that was recorded earlier at
Stax was put together and titled Sunshine which was
released by Stax at the height of The Emotions extremely
successful Columbia Records release Rejoice in 1977.
With the financial
problems at Stax / Volt, The Emotions found themselves getting
lost in the shuffle. It was at this time that family friend, Ron
Ellison told Joseph Hutchinson about Charles Stepney and Maurice
White. Ron wanted to get the girls over to Charles Stepney because
he knew that this combination was going to be explosive and spectacular.
Charles heard the girls sing several songs in which they had written
and he loved them. By this time, Jeanette had returned to the
group to continue performing with her sisters. In 1976, Charles
and Maurice signed The Emotions to Kalimba Productions and Columbia
Records where they went on to record their very successful album
Flowers, which contained three singles, Flowers,
I Dont Wanna Lose Your Love, and Youve
Got The Right To Know. The Emotions toured with Earth, Wind
& Fire to promote their new project, which re-introduced the
group and garnered gold certification for The Emotions.
momentum, The Emotions were back in the studio in early 1977 to
begin recording Rejoice. This time, Wanda and Sheila
were joined by baby sister Pamela, who stepped in while oldest
sister, Jeanette took some time off for maternity leave. This
project took The Emotions over the top with the release of their
first single, the million-plus selling single, Best Of My
Love. The Emotions had now become superstars, everyone was
singing their songs all around the world. The Rejoice
album was certified platinum and bore two singles. The second
single, Dont Ask My Neighbors completely solidified
the group as Pop / R&B divas. The Emotions had come a long
way and now they were getting the recognition that they deserved.
Although Rejoice only released two singles, most of
the album tracks received airplay. The Emotions went on an extensive
tour (including little brother Joe on guitar) with The Commodores.
They not only toured the United States, but Europe and Japan as
well. Many honors and awards were presented to the group in several
countries including Americas prestigious Grammy Award and
the American Music Award.
slowing down, The Emotions continued working and in August 1978,
they released the first single for their third Maurice White production
on Columbia Records. The single was Smile from the
album, Sunbeam. This song went to No. 6 on the R&B
charts and again put The Emotions back on top. This was a historical
album of sorts for The Emotions as it depicted their growth from
children, The Hutchinson Sunbeams to the ladies that
they had become. Jeanette also returned on this project to continue
where she left off after having a beautiful baby girl. Pamela
returned to her studies in college but remained active in the
group. Two additional singles were released from this album, Walking
The Line and Whole Lot Of Shakin. The
strength of these songs helped fuel this recording to gold certification.
At the same time, The Emotions geared up a tour with The Brothers
Johnson. The Emotions exciting and emotional performance
along with the elaborate set-design of a flowered themed background
and movable flowers in which each member sat during certain numbers
captivated audiences everywhere.
Not long after
The Emotions completed their Sunbeam tour, they were
right back in the studio teaming up with Earth, Wind & Fire
to work on what would become one of 1979s biggest hits,
Boogie Wonderland! This song was released on Maurice
Whites newly formed label, ARC (American Recording Company),
which was part of the Columbia family of labels. The success of
this tune catapulted The Emotions to new heights. So much so that
the newest project that the ladies were working on was their most
expensive record to date.
In the late
fall of 1979, The Emotions released the highly acclaimed album,
Come Into Our World. This recording contained a host
of prominent writers, arrangers and producers including The Emotions
themselves. The inner sleeve featured the lyrics to the songs
on one side and a picture of younger sister Pamela and brother
Joe on the other side indicating that, as always, Pamela and Joe
were still a part of the group. The first release from this album
was an up-tempo dance number called Whats The Name
Of Your Love? As with previous albums, many of the other
tracks on the record received airplay. The second single from
the album was the heart-wrenching ballad, Where Is Your
Love?, featuring the soft and breathy allure of Sheilas
lead vocal. The group toured to promote this album in the USA
and Europe. Sheila took a brief leave of absence during this tour
as Jeanette, Wanda and Pamela brought the house down, continuing
the long-standing tradition of outstanding performances that The
Emotions had become known for. Although this record did not achieve
all of the high accolades that its predecessors did, it still
cannot go un-noticed.
continued on preparing for their next release, which was New
Affair, also on Maurice Whites Columbia / ARC label.
This album was released in August of 1981. Although Jeanette,
Wanda and Sheila didnt tour with this project, it still
stands as a tribute to The Emotions, one of our nations most underrated
treasures. Turn It Out was the first single from this
record and that is exactly what they did --- they turned the joint
out. As always, Wanda sang the lead vocal with such conviction
that you knew she meant what she said. Now That I Know,
the groups second single from New Affair, followed
this tune. Unfortunately, this album was not really given the
proper edge to survive in an ever-competitive market. This was
The Emotions last album recorded for the Columbia / ARC
During a brief
hiatus from the business, The Emotions remained active with other
projects on an individual level. Wanda and Jeanette worked on
the Jennifer Holiday project Feel My Soul and Sheila
became involved with commercials back in Chicago. Pamela also
remained busy working with Wanda and Earth, Wind & Fire on
several projects. Wanda also collaborated extensively with husband
Wayne and Maurice White on many Earth, Wind & Fire tunes including
the hits: Lets Groove, Fall In Love With
Me, Side By Side, and Thinking Of You
to name a few.
In 1984, The
Emotions returned in a big way with their album Sincerely
on Red Label Records. This collection brought the group back to
the forefront with the first single, Youre The One.
This song crashed into the top 20 on the R&B charts. Once
again, fans were happy to see Wanda, Sheila & Pamela back
doing what they do best! Lee Young, Sr. who served as the Executive
Producer headed this record. Wanda and husband, Wayne also produced
several of the albums tracks along with several other well-known
producers including Billy Osborne and Zane Giles. The second single
from this project was Youre The Best, which
was released as a 7 single version and a 12 re-mixed
eight minute dance version that strongly forced its way up the
Billboard Dance / Club charts. Sincerely produced
one more single, Are You Through With My Heart, a
lovely and emotional ballad that was undeniably a trademark of
At this time,
The Emotions were again on a roll. They were disappointed with
the way Red Label handled their album and sought attention elsewhere.
The group signed with Motown and released If I Only Knew
in 1985, which featured the first single Miss Your Love.
This song was a funk / rock mix of soul and was a side of The
Emotions that we hadnt seen before. This tune was exciting
for Emotions fans everywhere, yet it received very little
airplay. Miss Your Love was followed up by If
I Only Knew (Then, What I Know Now), which was a beautiful
ballad. Although this record didnt receive the attention
that it deserved, several of the tracks on the record including
Supernatural and Good Times were played
in many markets.
In 1985 a
very traumatic event occurred in the lives of The Emotions. Their
father and mentor, Joseph Hutchinson, Sr. lost his battle with
cancer. Joe Hutchinson, Sr. was a wiz; not only did he manage
The Emotions, but he also maintained and recorded a diary of the
entire career of his girls. He truly was and is an inspiration,
not only to his children, but to the rest of us as well. From
him you can learn true endurance, dedication and commitment, all
of which shines through in all of his children.
by this time have become drained and needed a well deserved break.
Each of the ladies worked on several individual projects including
raising their families, recording, teaching, consulting, theater,
By the time
1990 rolled around, The Emotions were becoming restless and needed
to get back out there and begin performing again. In 1992, The
Emotions recorded I Want To Thank You For Your Love
for the motion picture soundtrack to BeBes Kids.
Before you knew it, our girls were back, performing at different
venues around the country. They continued this for several years
until Jeanette came up with an idea while attending an acting
class. She felt that the group should write a story about their
lives. The product of this brainstorm was the critically acclaimed
and hit musical, Bigger Than Bubblegum. The musical
was originally performed in 1995, but garnered so much praise
and attention that a full-on production was staged and went on
to play for over two consecutive months in 1997 at the famous
and historic Pasadena Playhouse. Bigger Than Bubblegum,
regularly played to sell-out houses. During 1996 between the original
production of Bigger Than Bubblegum and the full production
of the musical, The Emotions released The Emotions Live,
which is a must for any collector. This cd was pure and contained
live versions of the songs we have come to know and love. The
Emotions Live was released on Sunbeam Records, the groups
very own label. Also included on this recording are 4 new studio
tracks and the song, I Want To Thank You For Your Love
from the motion picture soundtrack to BeBes Kids.
In the late
1990s, the group continued to perform and was in demand
for many Ol Skool Shows. The Emotions made their presence
known and continue to do so up until today. Not only have The
Emotions been appearing, but also their songs are being picked
up and placed on many motion picture soundtracks such as Summer
Of Sam and Boogie Nights.
In March 2001,
The Emotions were honored by Prestige Entertainment / The Make
a Wish Foundation with the 2001 Prestige Award.
The Emotions are recording for their new release due out in the
fall of 2001 and they are making appearances at various cities
and venues around the nation.
to dance, be happy and love cause Wanda, Sheila and Pamela
by: Wally Hall of SE Entertainment Inc. (Copyright 2001)