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performer, per se,” Murphy says. “I would sing in cabarets and end up doing a U2 song. Then I would sing Standards in rock clubs. My tastes were eclectic.” During all that time, Murphy says, the stories of her mother’s life as a doo-wop singer would always come back to her. Even though the play is called “Girl/Group...” her mother’s trio, The Carmelettes was really a pre-girl group. pre-Supremes, pre-Shirelles and pre-Shangri-Las. In the mid-1950s, The Carmelettes received their name from their parish priest at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church where they sang in the choir. They signed with Alpine, a subsidiary of Epic Records and recorded their first songs. That’s when Neil Sedaka chose them to sing back up for his song “Oh Carol,” a tune he wrote about singer/ songwriter Carole King. Although not much is written about The Carmelettes, according to Angela LaPrete Murphy, “We sang backup on ‘Oh Carol’ and then were asked to duplicate the sound on ‘Oh, Neil.’ At that time, Virginia had already left the group. Vicky and I did a great deal of backup with Carole King for other artists.” Beatrice Verdi, Virginia Verga’s sister wrote songs for them, arranged the vocals, and went on to become a successful songwriter, Susan Murphy says: “She was unbelievable. She was writing four-chord doo-wop stuff, the harmonies were insane and these little girls did them. One of their records is now up on eBay for 50 bucks.” The Carmelettes continued to do back up and record their own songs. When they recorded “Promise Me a Rose” at Columbia Studios in New York, singer Anita Bryant recorded the same song and the DJ pulled The Carmelettes version off the air. Similar to most girl groups like the Shangri-Las, The Carmelettes/Kittens disbanded and moved on with their lives. “It’s because of The Carmelettes that I discovered a personal love for all types of music,” Murphy says, “and a deep respect for the path my mother paved all those years ago so that other girl groups could follow.” And although her career as a doo-wop singer became a treasure trove of memories in a box of 45s, Angela LaPrete Murphy made sure the music never stopped playing in the Murphy household. “I always knew doo-wop because it was always playing in our house,” Murphy says. “And my mother always sang. In fact, everybody always sang in my house. Even though we weren’t music professionals – except for my mom – we would bust out in songs.” Girl/Group: A Daughter’s Tale June 17-26, Fri & Sat 10 pm; Sun 5:30 pm Tickets $18 LaMama’s The Club 74A East 4th Street (Btw Bowery & 2nd Ave) New York City 212-475-7710 Tickets can be purchased online at www.lamama.org/theclub To view a short video about the show on YouTube, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJfqW2Toh9A Page 3 – River View Observer
Published on Jun 16, 2011
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