Margo Thunder began singing back any song she heard on the radio, on television etc. at the age of 10 Margo was qualified to perform at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y. She thought nothing of it though. It was something to do. It made her mom proud. Then, she learned that she would be performing on the same night as her idol, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Margo won that night singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and received words of approval from the queen. From that night on, Margo Thunder proclaimed that she wants to sing.
Luckily, the manager of the R&B/funk group Tavares was having surgery done in Boston and happened to catch little Margo’s talent show performance on local access television. He later got Margo her very first record deal with Capitol Records alongside greats like the Four Tops and the Righteous Brothers. Soul of a Woman was the title of the debut album from this pre-teen phenomenon spanning two international hits – “Expressway to Your Heart” and “Soul of a Woman”. A then-unknown crooner, Luther Vandross, also sang backup on the album. However, Capitol Records struggled to find success for Margo here in the U.S. With bad management and a mom focused on raising nine kids instead of being a typical stage mom, Margo was eventually dropped from the label.
The next chapter in Margo’s life began in high school where she met Wanda Perry and Leslie Jones. From day one, it was perfect harmony and chemistry. Their first gig as a trio was for the incomparable boxer, Joe Frazier who had a very brief musical stint in the 1970’s. Then the girls were contacted by ‘80s soul singer Richard ‘Dimples’ Fields who was searching for background singers to take out on tour. The tour led them to their first record deal as a group with RCA Records. They went by the name of 9.9, which was a tenth of a point away from pure perfection. 9.9 soon disbanded though because Wanda and Leslie turned over their voices to God. Margo still never gave up on her dream. She recorded the platinum-selling “If My Sister’s In Trouble” with the group Lady Soul for the soundtrack to the movie Sister Act. All the while, Margo was giving vocal lessons and writing/producing for a number of acts including teen-pop sensation JoJo.
Through all of her trials, Margo has returned to recording music with her latest offering entitled R&B 101. It’s back to the basics. The album highlights rhythm-and-blues with some gospel influences. “Mistreated” is the sassy lead single setting the stage for the ultimate comeback. The song features background vocals from her friends/former 9.9 members, Wanda Perry & Leslie Jones. “One of Nine”is an ode to her hero of a mom who passed on five years ago. It was recorded before her demise and attests to the fact that a single African-American mother can raise nine healthy/criminal-free children in the ghetto. “Make Me Say Oooh” is a spin on the classic Aretha cut “(Giving Him) Something He Can Feel”. Margo wants R&B 101 to embody the true essence of rhythm-and-blues music.
“R&B was born during slavery. This music they’re calling R&B nowadays is not R&B.”
- Margo Thunder
A few years ago Margo was admitted to the hospital for a simple two-hour procedure. She didn’t wake up until 10 hours later. Right before the surgery, music was the last thing on Margo’s mind. The industry had taken its toll. Singing was a thing of the past…that is until the life-altering surgery. “I knew I was dead,” says Margo. Miraculously, she was temporarily unable to walk or speak, but she could sing! It was a message from God that she was granted an everlasting gift. The message was received and R&B 101 is born.
Ironically, Margo also got a chance to meet another soul legend, Cissy Houston (who sang backup for Aretha), on that fateful day years ago at the Apollo Theater. Cissy declared, “I wish I had a little girl who could sing like that.” Some things in life are just meant to be. Margo Thunder was born to sing.Awesome!