Monday, December 22, 2014

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NY1's Dean Meminger profiles some of soul and R&B's greatest performers as part of his ongoing series.

Soul's Survivors: Stephanie Mills Aims To Bring R&B Back To The Forefront

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With a petite body and a huge voice, Stephanie Mills starred as Dorothy in The Wiz on Broadway and then hit R&B stardom. Today, she says wants to keep on performing and making music. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report as part of his Soul's Survivors series.

Stephanie Mills says she knows what she wants to do with her career, and that's keep on making great music after 40 years of performing.

"I have some new music coming out," she says. "My dream, and what I hope to do, is bring R&B music back to the forefront, the way it should be."

Mills hit the amateur night Apollo stage as a child, then went on Broadway. As a teenager, she starred in the award-winning musical "The Wiz" as Dorothy for five years.

"I grew up in theater, and I think if you can do theater, it disciplines you to be able to do anything," she says. "So I love theater. I would love to do another show. Not staying it for five years, maybe staying it for a year. But I would love to go back to Broadway to do something."

Mills had some major hits in the '80s and early '90s, at the same time other big stars were on the scene.

"With so many have passed, my friend Michael and Whitney, and I'm still here. I'm still here," she says. "And I've had my own trials and tribulations, but I'm still here and enjoying my life. That's, to me, is triumphant."

Mills says she and Michael dated for while in the '80s.

"What young girl wasn't in love with the Jackson 5?" she says. "I just knew I was going to be Mrs. Michael Jackson. And then, they would come to see the Wiz all the time, and that's how I met them. And that's one of the reasons why I signed with Motown, because I wanted to be closer to him."

They're fond memories for the Grammy Award winner. Just as fond are memories of being born in Queens and growing up in Brooklyn.

"We lived on President Street. My mother owned a beauty salon on Utica Avenue, Eastern Parkway," she said. "I would always go to the beauty salon because my mom would take me home. But I was always singing in school, and I was a part of the glee club and singing the national anthem in school. Always."

She's still proud to be singing now.

"Sometimes, they like to throw us away," she says. "I'm not going to allow them to throw me away. I love singing music. I love performing. So I'm not going to allow them to throw me away."

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