Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 08/17/2019

1958 Chantels – Maybe

Five teenage girls in the Bronx were singing together for a few years in high school in the mid-fifties. Their lead singer, Arlene Smith, received classical music training and had enough talent to perform in Carnegie Hall at age 12. Richard Barrett (the lead singer of the Valentines) found the group and got them signed to End Records.

End Records released the group’s first single in 1957 and it reached #71. The next year Richard co-wrote their second singleMaybe. The single sold a million copies and reached #15 on the pop charts and #2 on the R&B charts. The Chantels were the second African-American female group to make the Hot 100 in the early Rock Era. They even appeared on American Bandstand.

The group’s record company initially released their first album in 1959 with an album cover that showed the five girls. Times being what they were, to sell the album in some stores, the record company decided it was also necessary to release the album with a cover that was a picture of two white teenagers standing by a jukebox.

Arlene left the group to begin a solo act in 1960 and a second member left to attend college. Annette Smith joined the group as their new lead singer.

The group signed with a new label and continued to release music into the middle sixties. They scored four more top forty singles before they split up. In 1995, several members of the reformed the Chantels, and they made appearances at shows and on PBS specials.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame added a new category in 2018 for important records by groups that were not inducted into the Hall. They inducted Maybe into the Singles Hall in 2019.


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