Best known for her work as founder/CEO of the hip-hop label Sugar Hill Records, Robinson is credited as the driving force behind the classic landmark hip-hop singles “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugar Hill Gang, and “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.
Prior to founding Sugar Hill, Robinson was an established singer as part of Mickey & Sylvia. The duo’s songs included 1957 R&B hit “Love Is Strange,” and “There Oughta Be a Law.” In addition, Mickey & Sylvia sang background on Ike and Tina Turner‘s hit single, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”
As a solo artist, Robinson recorded four albums. Her hits were “Pillow Talk,” “Sweet Stuff” and “Pussy Cat.”
In addition to Sugar Hill Records, Robinson and her husband Joe formed All Platinum Records back in 1966. Acts that recorded on the Sugar Hill label included The Sugar Hill Gang as well as the all female rap/funk group The Sequence. During its heyday, Sugar Hill Records put out “Rapper’s Delight” and “The Message,” in addition to the hit song “Funk U Up.”
After Sugar Hill Records folded in 1985, Robinson went on to form Bon Ami Records in 1991. In 2011, she died at the age of 75.
For those not familiar with the great Sylvia Robinson, here’s some background on her via Wikipedia:
She was born as Sylvia Vanderpool (aka Vanterpool) in 1936 in New York City. She attended Washington Irving High School until she was 14,and began recording music in 1950 for Columbia Records under the billing, Little Sylvia.
In 1954, she began teaming up with Kentucky guitarist Mickey Baker, who then taught her how to play guitar. In 1956, the duo now known as Mickey & Sylvia, recorded the Bo Diddley and Jody Williams-penned rock single, “Love Is Strange,” which topped the R&B charts and reached number eleven on the Billboard pop charts in early 1957.
After several more releases including the modestly successful “There Oughta Be a Law,” Mickey & Sylvia split up in 1959 with Sylvia later marrying Joe Robinson that same year. Sylvia restarted her solo career shortly after her initial split from Baker, first under the name Sylvia Robbins.
In 1961, the duo reunited and recorded more songs together for various labels. They are most noted during this period for singing background on Ike & Tina Turner‘s hit single, “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine“. In 1964, frustrated with the music business, Baker moved to Paris.
In 1966, the Robinsons moved to New Jersey where they formed a soul music label, All Platinum Records, the following year, with artist Lezli Valentine, formerly of the Jaynettes, bringing the label its first hit with “I Won’t Do Anything.” In 1968, the duo signed a Washington, D.C. act named The Moments, who immediately found success with “Not on the Outside.”
Within a couple of years and with a new lineup, the group scored their biggest hit with “Love on a Two-Way Street,” which Sylvia co-wrote and produced with Bert Keyes and (uncredited) lyrics by Lezli Valentine. Other hits on the label and its subsidiaries, including Stang and Vibration, included Shirley & Company‘s “Shame, Shame, Shame,” the Moments’ “Sexy Mama” and “Look at Me I’m in Love” and the Whatnauts/Moments collaboration, “Girls.” Robinson co-wrote and produced many of the tracks, although later she was supported by members of The Moments, Al Goodman and Harry Ray, as well as locally based producers, George Kerr and Nate Edmonds.
In 1972, Robinson sent a demo of a song she had written called “Pillow Talk” to Al Green. When Green passed on it due to his religious beliefs, Robinson decided to record it herself, returning to her own musical career.
Billed simply as Sylvia, the record became a major hit, reaching number-one on the R&B chart and crossing over to reach Billboard Hot 100 (#3), while also reaching #14 in the UK at the beginning of 1973. She was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May 1973.
Robinson recorded four solo albums on the Vibration subsidiary and had other R&B hits including “Sweet Stuff” and “Pussy Cat.” “Pillow Talk” has been called an early example of prototypical disco music and went on to sell two million copies. The vocals are replete with moaning and heavy breathing, predating Donna Summer‘s orgasmic moans on “Love to Love You Baby.”
You can get MORE about Sylvia Robinson at Wikipedia.