Posted by | Cyrena Rose

Stephanie Dorthea Mills was born in Brooklyn, New York on this day in 1957.  Mills is an American R&B, gospel and soul singer, and a former Broadway star.

Mills honed her rich vocals singing gospel music at Brooklyn’s Cornerstone Baptist Church as a small child.  At age 9, she began appearing in the Broadway play, Maggie Flynn.  She was presented with first prize after winning “The Amateur Hour” talent contest six weeks straight at New York’s famed Apollo Theater when she was nine.  That success led to her being chosen as the opening act for The Isley Brothers, eventually becoming good friends with lead singer Ronald Isley.

Mills’ career took a rise when she portrayed Dorothy in an African American adaptation of ‘ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ entitled The Wiz, where she began dating Michael Jackson.  Filled with a more urban style of music and scenery, The Wiz made Mills a star particularly because of her stellar performance of the song “Home.”  It would become her signature tune for years, and would be covered later by Diana Ross for the big-screen adaptation three years later and by Whitney Houston for her dramatic musical performance debut on TV in the early 1980s.

(Mills as Dorothy in The Wiz)

Musical success was elusive until 1979, when signed under the 20th Century Fox Records record label, Mills found her breakthrough in disco music, recording songs such as “Put Your Body In It,” “You Can Get Over,” and “What Cha’ Gonna Do With My Lovin’.” The resulting album, What Cha’ Gonna Do with My Lovin’, was Mills’ first gold record.

Mills’ success continued with 1989’s Home album. The hits from that album include “The Comfort of a Man,” the title track, a cover of her old standard from The Wiz and another song penned by Angela Winbush titled “Something in the Way You Make Me Feel.” It became another platinum record for Mills.

She has been nominated for numerous awards and has received a Grammy in 1980,  for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance – Female (“Never Knew Love Like This Before”) and an American Music award in 1981, for Favorite Female Artist – Soul / Rhythm & Blues.

Mills was married three times; she and her son Farad live in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Happy 55th Stephanie!