By Michael P Coleman

Beginning with her initial smash, the gorgeous, ethereal “Free” from her 1976 debut album, This Is Niecy,  Deniece Williams’ girlish, multi-octave voice enchanted R & B and pop music fans.  More often than not, she casted that spell from the very top of the charts, filling the gap between Minnie Ripperton and Mariah Carey.

Williams’ piercing, rafter-raising voice almost defied description.  She started her professional career singing background for Stevie Wonder.  She had gone to an audition in Detroit, and showed up along with a few dozen other singers…but with no sheet music, and not having rehearsed anything to perform for the Motown legend.

“Well, I will tell you: ‘green’ is the word to describe me that day,” Williams recalled during our EXCLUSIVE chat, with that trademark, still youthful giggle.  “I had no idea what the audition would be about, or details about what I should bring or anything.  I just felt so bad. There were a couple of people who actually showed up with their keyboard players, and their music, and I showed up with just me.”

Click here to read MPC’s full feature and how Williams ultimately got that first gig with Stevie Wonder.  Williams tells how her biggest hits, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” almost never happened, talks about her upcoming shows in Oakland, and gives us the scoop on her upcoming album: her first ever jazz project!  The legend also shares how she’s always put God first, even when that decision threatened to end her recording career. 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.


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