Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Connection Between Betty Wright and Margo Thunder (Who’s Headlining at Catalina Bar & Grill Wed. Night)

*Listen up folks!  I have a show you may want to attend this Wednesday, July 24, at the Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood, California … that is if you like listening to people who can sing.

Her name is Margo Thunder and although her name is not a household name and she is not new to the music business, she is a hidden gem, with a dynamic voice to be reckoned with.

In fact, this diamond has been around for decades, both as a member of the 80s female trio 9.9 (“All of Me for All of You”) and as a solo artist.  Margo has been linked to some heavy hitters in the music industry.  I had a telephone interview with her, where she shared her path to the music business, as well as her upcoming performance at the Catalina Bar and Grill.

When asked if Margo’s roots were in gospel music, she shared they were not.  According to her:

“My singing started by accident. My mother noticed that I could sing anything that I heard.  I was three years old and she noticed that anything that came on the radio, if I heard it, I would just start singing along with it.  For me, I didn’t even really want to be a singer.”

margo thunder - catalina flyer


Her mother eventually tricked her into entering a talent contest by goading her, saying she was afraid the other little kids would beat her.  That egging on was all that was needed.  The nine-year-old not only entered the contest, but also won.  After three wins, Margo’s prize was being able to perform at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.   She won first place, singing her idol, the late Aretha Franklin’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and was thrilled when the Queen of Soul, who coincidentally was headlining at The Apollo that evening, personally gave her words of approval.  According to Margo: “They snuck me up there so I could get a chance to see her.  She gave me some words of encouragement.  After that, I never looked back.  I said this is what I’m going to do.  I signed with Capitol records.  I was 11 years old.”

She recorded a song called, “Soul of a Woman” when she was just 13 years old.  She later formed the trio 9.9, with two former schoolmates.  She admitted she never wanted to be in a group, but shared …

“After hearing these ladies sing, I was like, Oh My God!  We were meant to be a group, so we signed with RCA.”

They recorded a couple of albums, but eventually broke up.

Margo has been a solo artist for decades now and is still enjoying herself.  Recall I mentioned she was linked to some heavy hitters in the music industry?  How about an unknown Luther Vandross performed some of the background vocals on her first album.  How about she considers Betty Wright her mentor, saying, “She just encouraged me so much.  She kind of took me under her wing at a time when I was 13 and I think Betty might have been 18.”  How about Richard “Dimples” Fields produced 9.9’s song, “All of Me for All of You.”  She has also worked with mega-producers Gamble & Huff as well as shared the stage with Patti Labelle, The Whispers, Peabo Bryson, Eric Benet and The Bar-Kays, among others.


It has been eight years since Margo last released an album, but the last one she released, R&B 101, has some songs on it you want to hear.  There is a song on the album titled, “One of Nine” in reference to being one of nine children her single mom raised.  There is also a song, an Aretha Franklin tribute on the same line as Aretha’s, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.”  I absolutely loved “Mistreated,” a song that touched a woman in Austin, TX so much that she abandoned her suicide attempt.  According to Margo, “A DJ from Austin, TX called when that song came out.  She said, ‘I had to call you.  I usually play a song once on my show and that it is it.”  She played “Mistreated” and towards the end of the song, she got a phone called and this woman asked who the artist was and what was the name of the song.  She told her the name, the woman asked her to play it again, and when the DJ explained they don’t play songs back-to-back, the woman explained the song inspired her to not commit suicide.  The song lyrics gave her the courage to do what she needed to do.  Since Margo’s goal is to touch people, I would say that was a major win for her and it would seem that Margo agrees, saying, “If that song touched someone like that, then I did my job.”

Margo has a very strong and powerful voice and is a cover specialist; sometimes covering the songs better than the original.  Don’t take my word for it.  YouTube her and see for yourself.  Margo shared:

“Music has been my life; it has been a great gift that God gave me.  And, so when you come Wednesday, you’ll see that I do this because I just want to make people feel good.”

She wants people to, “Get lost in the music, even if it’s just for a little while.”

Come to Catalina Bar and Grill on Wednesday, July 24 and get lost in the music, including a performance of, “Love, Peace and Hair Grease,” a song she wrote earlier this year, in tribute to our soul legends, some of them who are no longer with us.  I hope you will come and enjoy the show with us.

marilyn smith
Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer.  Contact her via [email protected].

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