of the week

Cheri - thumb

If I were to ask you to guess how many Canadian one-hit-wonder duos made the UK singles chart, you’d probably wouldn’t guess that many. Well, to date, there have been around 45. The first was Gisele McKenzie in 1953 with her hit Seven Lonely Nights and the most recent is Ryandan in 2007 with the quickly forgotten Like the Sun in 2007. This week’s choice is from 1982 and two ladies who record under the name Cheri.

In 1980, Geraldine Hunt, another one-hit-wonder Canadian, just missed the top 40 with her hit Can’t Fake the Feeling. Hunt was born in St. Louis, Missouri but the family moved to Chicago when she was a baby. It was in her blood to sing as her grandmother sung in the South, and her Dad made extra money doing a one-man band hustle. She caught the bug at Hydeith Park High school where Minnie Riperton was one of her classmates. She began recording in the sixties with songs like I Let Myself Go which received some play on R&B stations but never became a hit. She went on tour around the R&B spots and did studio work on other people’s sessions. Then all of sudden, she disappeared from the scene. She had a son called Freddie (who used the professional name Freddie James) and who had one minor hit in 1979 with Get Up and Boogie.

Three years later both Freddie and Geraldine had their biggest success with a song they produced and wrote respectively for a duo called Cheri, who was Lyn Cullerier and, Geraldine’s daughter and Freddie’s brother Rosalind Hunt.

The song was called Murphy’s Law which, as the lyric describe, the old belief that anything that can possibly go wrong will. The song is basically telling a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend that his luck had totally run out. It will also be remembered for the speeded up synth line ‘Got it all together, don’t you, baby.’ Rosalind was actually born in the US, but the duo was formed in Montreal.

Geraldine didn’t have a lot of money. She’d signed to Prism records in the seventies and they ripped her off. She was still in litigation with them at the time she was writing songs for Cheri. “I had to take them to court,” Geraldine explained. “The case came about because too many people were involved that had to be paid. So when it was time to renew my contract I refuse to sign with Prism again. In turn they suspended my contract, which meant I could not record or work and I had no money. I won the case but never got paid. However, I have to say that the A&R director Dee Joseph was the best promotion woman in the world. She made Can’t Fake the Feeling happen and where ever she is God bless her. The president of Prism at the time also promised me more control over my projects but when the time came for me to record he started talking down to me saying stuff like ‘Why are you choosing this or that song, studio or musicians.’ It was hell especially when you consider the fact that I wrote, produced, published, and released two major records on my own label 6 A.M records. Anyhow, I had no money and my son, Freddie, insisted I take money from him to produce Murphy’s Law for his sister. It sold almost two million copies. All of the money was later stolen by that record company, Venture Records. But boy did it feel good to have been able to prove to myself that although I was going through this ugly court thing I could always count on my talent in the end.”

Murphy’s Law reached number 13 in the UK. After that hit, it was revealed in the music press that Lyn wasn’t the real singer and was swiftly replaced with New Jersey-born Amy Roslyn. Lyn was later reported to have said that she was too ugly to be seen upfront and they replaced her with a bimbo.

The duo continued and released three further singles, Working Girl, Give It to Me Baby and Small Town Lover although none had the impact of Murphy’s Law. The album went gold and charted in the States but because of yet more legal wrangling the group never released another album.

Geraldine is still busy writing, singing and performing. She recently spent four years in Japan before returning to her beloved Montreal. She has performed at Montreal’s top clubs with a local act called The Arnold Ludvig Trio. She can often be seen at Jazz’s or the Wax Lounge and is currently seeking a new manager/booking agent and is eager to tour the world again. Rosalind does the occasional PA and was last seen performing in Montreal on New Year’s Eve 2011.