amantha Sang was born in Melbourne, Australia, where her father ran a singing school. She became hooked on music by the age of eight, and sang on the radio as "Cheryl Gray." Her father, a vocalist, was known as "Reg Gray" professionally, because he thought his real last name, Sang, sounded "too stagy."
When she was fifteen, Samantha began to tour with her parents, who were kind of the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme of Australia. She earned a reputation as "the little girl with big voice," because of her robust, dramatic singing style. Samantha started a recording career, and in 1969, had a European hit with "Love of a Woman." The same year, she met Barry Gibb, who suggested that she try a softer vocal approach. To demonstrate, he wrote and produced her on a single, "Don't Let It Happen Again." Unfortunately, that record bombed.
Samantha continued performing in Europe and Australia, cutting four albums, and playing clubs and outdoor concerts. At one show, a wasp flew into her open mouth and down her throat. She kept on singing, though, and the wasp was blown out.
Samantha's real dream was to crack the American market, but somehow, her plans always seemed to fall through. Then, in 1977, she heard that Barry was back in Paris.
"We were in the middle of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack," he recalled. "She flew in with her manager, not to my knowledge, confronted me, and said, 'Would you write me a song?' I said, 'Great, would love to, but that's as far as it can go.' Six months later, she rang up and said nobody would produce the song, because it was so Bee Gees influenced. We should produce it, and nobody else. So I said, 'Let's see if we can fit it in.' She came to Miami for a week, we cut it, and that was it."
"Emotion" was produced as a duet, with Barry and Samantha each singing eight harmonies. Their voices blended so well that critics called her "the female Bee Gee." At first, she was flattered, but later grew to resent that term. "We didn't set out to do it that way," she said. "Barry just thought that soft and very sensuous sound would work best on that record. It did, but it's only one of many styles I use."
"Emotion" wound up sounding just like another Bee Gees record, and for that reason, many labels eagerly bid for it, including those who had rejected Samantha in the past. She wanted to sign with RSO, but owner Robert Stigwood, her former manager, doubted Sang's ability to sell records without a Bee Gee connection. The master was finally placed with Private Stock, a company famed for its skill with singles.
It broke in America in mid-November 1977, and peaked on the charts in March 1978. In all, it spent more than six months on the best-seller list.
And Robert Stigwood was right. Samantha Sang never did have another major hit record in the United States.
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