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Alfa Anderson is a soul and dance music icon whose voice defines an entire era of popular music. As one of the original lead vocalists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominated group Chic, she helped producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards build a mountain of gold and platinum albums with hits like "Le Freak", "Good Times", and "I Want Your Love". To the delight of fans all around the world, Anderson's "soulful, sensitive delivery" (Billboard) takes center stage with the release of "Music From My Heart" (2017), her very first full-length solo effort. She premiered the album with a standing room-only concert at Joe's Pub (The Public Theater) in July 2017.
"Music From My Heart" spotlights an impressive range of songs that Anderson wrote and co-produced with the multi-talented Bert Price. The album's first single "When Luther Sings" features Anderson's rousing, heartfelt tribute to her longtime friend Luther Vandross, while powerful ballads like "Sending Love" and sizzling club tracks like "Dancing Is My Release" add the exclamation point to Anderson's long-awaited solo debut. In March 2018, Rammit Records (Canada) released two remixes of the album's second single "Perfectly Chic", with Indamixworldwide declaring, "Alfa Anderson is back with some serious material."
A celebrated New Yorker by way of Augusta, Georgia, Anderson began her professional singing career alongside some of the industry's most talented vocalists and musicians. She had a featured role in Cannonball Adderley's "Big Man" (1976), which premiered at Carnegie Hall, and also starred in Lincoln Center's production of Children of the Fire, a piece scored by legendary trumpeter Marvin "Hannibal" Peterson. Throughout the 1970s, she recorded background vocals for a variety of artists, including Nat Adderley, Ray Barretto, Odyssey, Major Harris, and Roy Buchanan. Anderson also sang on the Quincy Jones produced soundtrack to "The Wiz" (1978) and Atlantic Records' "Live at Montreux" (1978) album produced by Arif Mardin and Herbie Mann.
Anderson's life changed when Luther Vandross invited her to a vocal session for Chic. At the time, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards had just formed the group with Tony Thompson on drums and Norma Jean Wright on lead vocals. She sang background on one of Chic's first singles for Atlantic Records, "Everybody Dance", which both brought Chic to the top of the dance charts for seven consecutive weeks in 1977. After joining Chic on tour, Anderson was promoted to lead vocalist, a role she and Luci Martin shared from 1978 - 1983.
The group's second album, "C'est Chic" (1978), was a critical and commercial tour de force. It featured Anderson's two solo numbers, "At Last I Am Free" and the gold-selling single "I Want Your Love". Anderson and renowned session vocalist Diva Gray both sang lead on "Le Freak", Rodgers and Edwards' ode to Studio 54. The song not only became Chic's most successful single but, for more than 30 years, was the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Record's history. "Le Freak" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and went to number one on both the R&B and disco singles charts, quickly earning gold and platinum certifications. "C'est Chicc" was later named "1979 R&B Album of the Year" by Billboard, after it topped the R&B chart for eleven weeks.
"Risqué" (1979) continued Chic's influence across all genres of music and spawned another number one pop and R&B hit, "Good Times". The song brought hip-hop to the mainstream when it was sampled on "Rapper's Delight" by Sugar Hill Gang. Anderson maintained a lead role in Chic on "Real People" (1980), "Take It Off" (1981), "Tongue in Chic" (1982), the "Soup for One" soundtrack (1982), and "Believer" (1983). Between her many appearances with Chic on "Soul Train", "The Midnight Special", "Top of the Pops", and "New Year's Rockin' Eve", Anderson lent her vocals to Chic-produced sessions for Sister Sledge ("We Are Family" (1979)), Diana Ross ("Diana" (1980)), and Johnny Mathis ("I Love My Lady" (1981)).
After Chic dissolved, Anderson continued her singing career with a variety of solo artists, most notably Luther Vandross. From 1982 through 1987, she was a member of Vandross' touring band and performed at Wembley Stadium, among many other prestigious venues around the world. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Anderson sang on albums by Bryan Adams, Gregory Hines, Mick Jagger, Teddy Pendergrass, Jennifer Holliday, Billy Squier, Sheena Easton, Jody Watley, Bryan Ferry, and Jonathan Butler.
In the late 1990s, Anderson and her husband Tinkr Barfield formed and produced Voices of Shalom, a group who explored spiritual themes through uplifting original compositions. They released two full-length albums, "Messages" (1999) and "Daily Bread" (2002), as well as a single called "What A Spirit" (2005), which featured guest vocals by Lisa Fischer and Keith Anthony Fluitt. Meanwhile, Anderson's voice continued to introduce the music of Chic to younger listeners through feature films like "Shrek 2", "Toy Story 3", "Up in the Air", "54", "Roll Bounce", and Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam".
Anderson reunited with Chic vocalists Luci Martin and Norma Jean Wright in 2010, on "My Lover's Arms". The trio was also joined by Lisa Fischer, who had previously sung with Anderson in Vandross' band and Voices of Shalom. Produced by Tinkr Barfield, "My Lover's Arms" appeared on Tinkr B. & Lu-Fuki's "It Is What It Is" (2011). The album included Anderson's lead vocals and songwriting contributions on "Money, Power" and "The Song That Captures Your Heart", laying the groundwork for her first solo single, "Former Lady of Chic" (2013), written and produced by Eluriel (Tinkr) Barfield, Eluriah Barfield, and Taurie Barfield.
"Former Lady of Chic" sparked a surge of interest in Anderson's career. Author James Arena devoted an entire chapter to Alfa in his best-selling book "First Legends of Disco" (2014), which led to Anderson's acclaimed appearance with Norma Jean Wright and Luci Martin at the "First Ladies of Disco" concert in Palm Springs. That same year, Alfa performed at Central Park SummerStage (New York City), the Grand Opera House (Wilmington, Delaware), The Cutting Room (New York City), Joe's Pub (New York City), and the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel in Ibiza, where she was a surprise guest during the venue's inaugural concert by Nile Rodgers.
Ibiza-based production team Aristofreeks produced a series of songs for a trio that Anderson formed with Wright and Martin called Next Step. Featuring guest vocalist Kathy Sledge, "Get On Up" brought Next Step to #8 on Billboard's Dance Chart in May 2016 following the trio's headlining performance with Cirque du Soleil at Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas). Nile Rodgers also invited Anderson and Martin to sing on the first new Chic single in 23 years, "I'll Be There" (2015). Released on Warner Bros., the song topped the United Kingdom charts and bridged two generations of Chic organization vocalists.
In recent years, Anderson's work as both a solo artist and original member of Chic has been recognized by several prestigious organizations. A year after Anderson released "Music from My Heart", Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. awarded her an official proclamation that declared May 5, 2018 "Alfa Anderson Day" in Augusta, Georgia and gave her the keys to the city. She also received the G.E.M.A. Foundation's "Golden Mic Award" (2014), and a Citation from the City of Philadelphia that recognized her many contributions to music. Following an induction into the 2015 Grammy Hall of Fame, Chic's original recording of "Le Freak", which featured Anderson on lead vocals, was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress (2018).
Honoring a legacy of hits, and a fresh sound that melds the classic and contemporary, Anderson is poised to continue another exciting chapter in a career that's shaped by one musical benchmark after another. With every note she sings, Anderson's soulful, sophisticated style spellbinds listeners of every generation, all around the world — from her heart to yours.
Last Updated: September 16, 2018