Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Ever Happened To: Angela Bofill

Raised in New York by a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, Angela Bofill was a student of many styles of music, from the latin sounds played regularly by her family to the soul and jazz sounds of her neighborhood in the Bronx. She began singing professionally as a teenager as a member of New York’s All City Voices and as featured lead soloist for the Dance Theater of Harlem.

After completing her studies in California, Bofill was introduced by her friend, jazz flutist Dave Valentin, to Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen of GRP records, and they signed her for her 1978 debut, "Angie" (produced by Ashford & Simpson). The album was a breakout smash on contemporary jazz radio and the tastefully arranged jazz vocal disc showed a gifted young artist with a rich voice beyond her years. Featuring a number of great cuts, including most notably a cover of “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter,” Angie became one of the year’s biggest jazz albums. She followed it in 1979 with the even better "Angel of the Night," a more muscular album that showed she had the chops to handle upbeat material like the title cut and the fantastic “What I Wouldn’t Do” as well as softer tracks such as “I Try” (later beautifully remade by Will Downing).

Sensing a star in the making, Clive Davis and Arista Records bought out Angela’s GRP contract and teamed her with hot writer/producer Narada Michael Walden for "Something About You," an attempt at a more straight-ahead pop/soul album. While some of Bofill’s jazz fans balked at the new album, it was undoubtedly a critical success, providing her with some of the best material of her career, including the stepper “Holding Out For Love” and the wonderful ballads “Break It To Me Gently” and Earl Klugh’s “You Should Know By Now.” It was one of 1982’s best albums and still sounds great today (it was reissued in expanded form in 2002). Unfortunately, Arista pulled a rare blunder in its choices of singles to be released from the album, and the disc never received the props it deserved.

She teamed up again with Walden in 1983 for "Too Tough," which was even more directly aimed at the urban market, with a funk-laded title cut and very little resembling her earlier jazz stylings. And while it became her highest charting album on the R&B charts, it was at the expense of her loyal jazz following, which never really came back. She again teamed with Walden for Teaser, which featured the nice ballad, “I’m On Your Side.”

Whether singing jazz, soul or funk, and regardless of the quality of material she worked with, Bofill always got the most out of her material and made even poorly produced work sound better than it should.
She recorded two more modestly successful albums for Arista (with the help of the System and George Duke) before moving to Capitol and producer extraordinaire Norman Connors for "Intuition," in 1988. It was her last notable chart success. She recorded three more albums over the next eight years of varying quality, and provided backing vocals on a number of other albums, most notably Connors’ excellent "Eternity" in 2000, where she sounded as wonderful as ever.

She’s appeared in a number of stage plays over the last few years, including “God Don’t Like Ugly” and “What A Man Wants, What A Man Needs.” She's also regularly toured the US and Europe in multi-artist jazz artist shows.

In January, 2006, Bofill suffered a massive stroke that left her paralyzed on her left side. It's doubtful she will ever perform or record again.

Bofill, 53, was eventually released from intensive care and will require speech and physical therapy. She was uninsured, so many of her friends organized benefit concerts to raise money for her medical treatment. She currently resides in Seattle, Washington.

Source: Soul
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass." - Maya Angelou


Milesigo said...

I know this is crazy but if I send you some footage do you think you can help me out. I'm a writer actor in Austin, texas and I just need someone to give me a look. I know i can put in the solid work. Im willing and ready to do whatever it takes. Let me know.

The Garlic said...

Say Hey Sharon

Nice post ... Angela Bofill has always been one of my favorites ...

When I lived in California, in the 1980's, both Jazz Stations - KKGO in LA, and KJAZ in SF regularly played her "Under The Moon and Over The Stars" ...

I did a post with it recently

Saturday, January 10, 2009
Under the Moon and Over the Stars