Riperton as a child, studied music, ballet, and drama at Lincoln Center in Chicago and was a trained to become an opera singer. In preparation for a career in operettas and show tunes, she studied under Marion Jeffery. Emphasis was given in diction, breathing, and phrasing. At age 15, Riperton sang lead vocals with the girl group, the Gems. On the night of December 26, , she was presented by Ramsey Lewis as a solo artist at the famed London House in Chicago at which time she performed several selections from the album. Although the album did not achieve much commercial success, it is considered by music critics as a masterpiece. Riperton worked with Stevie Wonder as a member of his backing band Wonderlove. The song topped the Billboard pop chart in the spring of Minnie Riperton possessed an innate coloratura soprano vocal range giving her the ability to sing in a whistle register, producing a sound almost mechanical.
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Her No. As part of the group Rotary Connection, Ripperton graduated from being the front-of-house girl at Chess to a becoming a member of one of the first black psych groups, whose ranks included the great Blue Thumb artist and guitarist Phil Upchurch. That grounding made her a natural for the solo life. With a post-Motown atmosphere and a much slicker emphasis on musicianship, Ripperton was one of the first female soul singers to utilise synths and early programming. There was a posthumous album, Love Lives Forever , and but a few choice compilations, but they are not enough.
Her talent shines through on the compilation album Minnie Riperton: Her Chess Years , which features 16 songs recorded over the period , covering her work with girl band The Gems through to Chicago-based psychedelic soul group Rotary Connection. The Chicago-born Riperton was a trained opera singer who possessed a rare five-octave range, and few singers of her generation could match her vocal skills. After signing to Chess Records as a teenager, she served an apprenticeship as a backing vocalist before eventually achieving solo success, with one album produced by Wonder. Both feature her glittering falsetto high-notes. Riperton recorded six albums with Rotary Connection, including one that blended psychedelia, soul and Christmas. Many great artists have been taken far too young, but the death of Minnie Riperton — whose daughter is actress and comedian Maya Rudolph — from breast cancer at the cruelly early age of 31 cut short a career that had burned brightly in the 60s and 70s, and would undoubtedly have led to many more decades of great music.