1968 The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration

1968 The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration

Emily “Cissy” Houston (who was also known as Cissy Drinkard) formed the family gospel group The Drinkard Singers in 1938. Emily was the mother of Whitney Houston. Another member was her sister, Lee Warwick, who became the mother of Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. The group started recording as The Gospelaires. By 1960, the group included Dee Dee, Dionne, and Doris Troy and was billed as the Sweet Inspirations. They sang backup vocals for recordings by Aretha Franklin and other R&B artists.

Burt Bacharach discovered Dionne in 1962, and she sang on demos for him before releasing her own singles. Doris Troy left the group in 1963 and her career as a solo artist kicked into gear with the top ten single Just One Look. Cissy Houston took her place in the group. The initial hits for Doris and Dionne used the Sweet Inspirations for background vocals.

Dee Dee signed with Mercury Records in 1965 and left for her own solo career.

Three new members joined Cissy in the group after those departures: Sylvia Shemwell, Estelle Brown, and Myrna Smith. They were constantly in demand as background singers for recordings by other artists, and not just for R&B records. In 1967, they sang on Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and the Jimi Hendrix single Burning of the Midnight Lamp.

In 1967, the group also recorded their first album and released two top forty R&B singles. The group also recorded their first gospel album that year. Their record company released the album as Songs Of Faith & Inspiration by Cissy Drinkard & The Sweet Inspirations.

In 1968, the group released the single that successfully got them into the top forty on the pop charts. Sweet Inspiration reached #18 on the Hot 100 in 1968 and peaked at #5 on the R&B chart.

The group toured with Elvis Presley as an opening act and also sang background vocals for his performances.

The group had a few more minor R&B hits before Cissy left the group for her own solo career in 1969. The group’s lineup changed periodically, but they continued to release new albums through the mid-seventies. One last album came out in 2005 as part of a brief reunion by most of the original members.

A current group still makes appearances and maintains a website at http://sweetinspirations.org/index_files/page0003.html


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