Loleatta Holloway passed away last night at the age of 64, and it’s just not possible to overstate how devastating this loss is. If Loleatta was the First Lady of Disco, it was by such a wide margin that she lapped whoever came in second place.
What “Apache” and the “Amen Break” were for Hip-Hop, Loleatta’s voice was for House Music – sampled, re-sampled, sampled over and over again, so many times and in so many different ways.
Loleatta was sometimes referred to as “The Most Sampled Woman on the Planet”.
But in a very real, very tangible way, House Music is infused with Loleatta’s voice; in many ways, Loleatta Holloway is House Music’s voice.
Just by way of example – how many tracks have a piece of “Love Sensation” in them? I mean not just in influence or inspiration – that’s a whole book – but actual hats, diva screams, basslines?
If we judge an artist by impact, by the meaning they’ve had in the lives of strangers and the hearts of people who have carried their creations forward, Loleatta was second to none.
And of course there are the original recordings, too. And not just “Love Sensation”, but even some of her work from the 1980s and 1990s which showed that Loleatta could not just move with the times, but make the times move with her.
The electro classic Crash Goes Love (1984):
Or her 1992 release with Francois K, Strong Enough:
Few singers from the Disco era had longer, more prolific careers, with as many twists and turns. Few made records that were so enduring, too, whether resurfacing as the hook of the title track of Moby’s Move EP back in ’93, or something as different as Audio Soul Project’s “Good Inside”, released just a few months ago. For so as long as there are records, turntables to play and a pair of feet to dance to them, every new generation seems to rediscover Loleatta Holloway.
Here is that voice, one last time, all by itself. Rest in Peace, Loleatta. Not only will we never forget you; I don’t think we could forget you if we tried.