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viola wills

Viola Wills

b. Viola Mae Wilkerson, a.k.a. Viola Wills, 30th December 1939, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

d. 6th May 2009, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.

Viola was born in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

She attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music.

Viola was discovered by Barry White in 1965, who initially used her as a session vocalist.

Viola Wills

It was at the suggestion of Barry that she changed her surname from 'Wilkerson' to 'Wills'.

In 1965, he signed her to the Bob Keane's Bronco/Mustang imprint where he was the head of A & R.

Together ForeverThe First Time

together forever / don't kiss me hello and mean goodbye - 1967 / the first time - 1969

She released several sides for the label, including 'Lost Without The Love Of My Guy' b/w 'I Got Love' (1966), 'Together Forever' b/w 'Don't Kiss Me Hello and Mean Goodbye' (1967), 'I've Got To Have All Of You' (1967), and 'You're Out Of My Mind' b/w 'Anytime' (1967), before relocating to the A Bem Sole imprint in 1969.

Here she released one single entitled 'The First Time'.

Viola was the enlisted to replace Claudia Lennear, who was on tour with Joe Cocker.

Soft CentersGet Along Without You Now

soft centers - 1974 / get along without you now - 1977

This took to her to Europe, where she signed for the Goodear label, in the U.K., in 1974.

In 1977, Viola joined Arista Records and in 1979 she recorded for their subsidiary, Ariola / Hansa.

At the label, Viola recorded her own take on the Patience And Prudence 1957 hit, 'Gonna Get Along Without You Now', which, subsequently, made the U.K. Top 10.

If You Could Read My MindIf You Could Read My Mind

if you could read my mind - 1980

Viola then began recording several Hi-Energy style sides, including 'If You Could Read My Mind' and 'Up On The Roof'.

A parent album to the former song was released in 1980, which featured the songs 'Get Along Without You Now', 'That Same Old Feeling', and the previous two tracks mentioned.

She then returned to America to work on a college degree in music therapy. 

At this time she wrote and produced her one-woman show 'Willspower'.

In 1982 her cover version of 'Stormy Weather' reached number 4 in the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart.

By now Viola had divorced her first husband, and married Robert Ashmun (around 1982) with whom, (in 1983), she formed the record label RVA (Robert Viola Ashmun)

The label released the songs 'Wall', 'Space' and 'If These Walls Could Speak'.

SpaceDare To Dream

space - 1983 / dare to dream - 1986

After Viola had returned to the U.K., she reached the Top 40 in 1986 with the double a-side 'Both Sides Now / Dare To Dream', which she produced for the Wide Angle label.

'Dare To Dream' is a favourite amongst U.K. Soul fans.

Viola appeared on many labels since 1979, including Island Records in 1987.

Various songs were released as singles, including including 'No News Is News', 'A House Is Not A Home', 'If You Could Read My Mind', 'Love Pains', 'Let's Love Now', 'Take One Step Forward' (by Viola Wills and Noel McCalla), and 'Always Something There to Remind Me'.

Some of the U.K. venues Viola has appeared on were Top of The Pops, Pebble Mill, Soul Train, Jules Holland, Ronnie Scott's and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Viola Wills passed away peacefully in hospital in Arizona, following a long illness, on the 6th of May 2009.

Viola has six children: Vincent, Christopher, Regina, Madonna, David and Rejal, 21 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Viola WillsViola WillsViola Wills

Real Player


Soft Centers (Goodear Records 1974)

Without You (Ariola Records 1979)

If You Could Read My Mind (Ariola Records 1980)

Space (RVA Records 1983)

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