Sheila Ferguson

Biography

She is also an accomplished actress, writer and a world authority on Soul Food, African America's traditional cuisine.

Born in Phildelphia USA, Sheila's first ambition was to be a psychologist. However, a successful solo singing career put these ambitions on hold. By 1965 she was recording regularly for the Swan Record label under the tutelage of doo wop legend Richard Barrett, cutting a number of highly regarded singles including 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'How Did that Happen' and 'Heartbroken Memories'. As well as appearing at all the top music venues including the Apollo, (where she shared the bill with Marvin Gaye). Sheila was, most unusually for a female vocalist of that era, already writing her own songs.

While Richard Barrett was working with Sheila he was also developing a female vocal group called The Three Degrees. A strong friendship had developed between Sheila and the other group members who often sang back-up on her records, just as she provided extra harmonies on theirs, sometimes even standing in for missing Degrees at live dates. When one of the original members left, it was no surprise that Sheila was asked to join for good.

The Three Degrees with Sheila as lead became the most successful female group of the nineteen seventies, spearheading the rise of the Philadelphia International label and the Philly Sound, with a string of worldwide hits such as 'TSOP' (with MFSB), 'Dirty Ol' Man', 'Take Good Care of Yourself', 'Year of Decision' and the Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff classic 'When Will I See You Again'. Just as renowned for their dynamic stage act as for their glamour and vocal excellence, The Three Degrees toured all over the world attracting a huge and loyal fan base in countries ranging from Japan to Australia and, of course, the UK. The girls have appeared on most of the world's top TV shows ranging from cult American sitcom 'Sanford And Son' starring the late Redd Foxx to the primetime special on British TV broadcast from London's Royal Albert Hall. The group also made an explosive appearance in the Oscar-winning movie 'The French Connection'.

In the latter part of the1970's The Three Degrees were still topping the charts with discs such as 'My Simple Heart' working with Disco King Georgio Moroder. Hits like 'The Runner' and movie theme 'The Golden Lady' showed Sheila taking more of a hand in production and songwriting duties, but as the mother of twins it became less and less easy to balance family life with recording and touring, so in 1985 Sheila finally left the group.

Now living in Britain, Sheila felt that it was very important for her daughters to appreciate their African-American Heritage. Out of this desire came her bestselling book 'Soul Food' published in 1989. Much more than just a recipe book, 'Soul Food' has become one of the standard works on the food and culture of Black America and is found in kitchens across the USA and around the world. Sheila developed her acting career by becoming the first Black woman ever to have her own UK sitcom, 'Land of Hope and Gloria' which made its debut in 1991. Both as an actress and a singer she was constantly in demand throughout the nineties, appearing in several popular British TV shows both in dramatic roles and with popular entertainers such as Brian Conley. She also made her West End musical debut as Analise L'Avender in 'Always', a musical based on the romance between Britain's King Edward and Mrs Simpson. On a completely different type of stage, Sheila won new fans and a lot of respect when she performed for British Forces stationed in the Falklands and also for her role in the fight for performing artists rights on behalf of both Equity and PAMRA.

At the dawn of the twenty first century Sheila Ferguson's career and reputation moves from strength to strength not least with the launch of her own website. From early days to the height of international fame, Sheila has always valued her loyal fans around the world old and new and as with all her projects has taken a personal interest in its development. With several new projects underway, Sheila's energy, sass and style are as potent as ever.

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