Ava Cherry was born and raised in Chicago. Growing up here in the Windy City, Ava was heavily influenced by the soul and R&B artists of the 1960's. Naturally Motown and the
Detroit sound of Aretha were staples in her musical diet. Affectionately known as
"The Black Barbarella," perhaps for her often wild appearance, she began her career as a
background singer.
   In 1974 her life and career took a fortuitous turn when she was introduced to David Bowie by Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music). Ava was an aspiring singer and David took an immediate
interest in the svelte beauty. Wishing to help her out with promotions and encouragement he took an active role in her life, both professionally and personally. David and Ava
developed a relationship.
"Can You Hear Me" on the "Young Americans" album was written for Cherry. Ava lived with David in the mid-1970's, despite his marriage to Angela whom
he was often estranged from.
      From 1974 to 1978 she performed on stage and in the studio with Bowie, appearing on some his most acclaimed albums. She was one third of a backing trio comprised of Robin
Clark, and Luther Vandross. Lovers as well, Ava and Bowie have remained friends throughout the years. The experience spoiled Ava, she traveled all over the world, sung before
crowds of 50,000+ people, and mingled with superstars like John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, and others.
    During her years with Bowie, true to his word, he helped Ava along. Around 1975 he produced a rock album for his mistress.
"People From Bad Homes" was billed as Ava Cherry
and the Astronettes. Bowie also wrote the songs
"I Am Divine," "I Am A Laser" and "Things To Do" as well as the title track, for this her debut release. Bowie also contributed
background vocals as a favor in kind to his leading background vocalist. The album and it's twelve tracks are definitely a rock excursion. Perhaps it was timing or perhaps it's overall
tone caused the album to make minimal waves and quickly sink into the depths of the cutout bins. I imagine that most of the copies that sold during it's initial release were to David
Bowie fans and not because of the album's musical merits or Ava's own success. Still it's worth owning for a piece of musical history. Thanks to Griffin Music,
"People From Bad
saw daylight on compact disc in 1995 after over 20 years of neglect.
   After the Bowie split in 1979 she returned home to Chicago. There a friend introduced her to Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield at the time was riding the disco craze with his own
releases and those of Linda Clifford, all of which were recorded at his Curtom Studios on north Lincoln Ave. Curtom in conjunction with RSO Records released
"Ripe" by Ava. She had
some rock songs ready to go, but Curtom placed her in a snug disco/soul bag, and didn't use her hard rock compositions. The 1980 release was accepted in the disco circles mainly on
the strength of
"Where There's Smoke There's Fire" and "You Never Loved Me." The album came out at the height of the "death to disco" movement and both Curtom and RSO
were suffering major setbacks. Promotion was limited and a major guffaw was the release of a promotional-only 12" single of the album versions instead of some remixes. The album
is a highly sought after collector's item and the 12" single is an even more valued find. Both fetch staggering prices on Ebay and other auction sites.
      During her association with Curtom/RSO she recorded background vocals on Gavin Christopher's self-titled 1979 debut album. With her own career stagnating and dismal sales of
both hers and Gavin's albums she quickly fled back to the Bowie camp. The next few years brought another stab at a relationship with Bowie and yet another string of tours. Another
shot at solo stardom came with her 1983 Capitol Records release
"Streetcar Named Desire." The album produced two 12" singles "Awkward Situation" and the title track. Neither
achieved club or radio hit-status despite her association with Bowie and her previous club hits.
   She branched out during the mid 1980's recording backgrounds for a number of other artists. Most notably Patti Austin, Jon Butcher Axis, Kevin Owens and Paul Young. Her
friendship with Luther Vandross paid off when Vandross, also a struggling background vocalist who can be heard on numerous disco classics, launched his own successful solo career.
Cherry joined Vandross as a regular vocalist around 1986 and is heard from the
"Any Love" album onwards.        
   Along with Lisa Fischer & Kevin Owens, Ava contributed to making Luther Vandross a top draw on the urban music scene. The trio backed Luther in concert and the studio. They
didn't just sing behind Vandross, Cherry, Fischer, and Owens executed some rather classy stepping & dance routines that always wowed the patrons on the concert trail.
   Her next release was her second Capitol Records album "Picture Me" in 1987. The album was peppered with a list of "who's who" in music. Glen Ballard, who struck it big with Alanis Morrisette in 1995 with "Jagged Little
wrote three songs as well as played keyboards and co-produced. Jon Butcher returned the favor and did guitar, programming, vocals (background), and co-produced as well as writing four songs. Luther Vandross
arranged vocals and sang backups along with Alyson Williams and David Lasley. Still with all that talent sales were minimal. Stellar cuts include:
"Good Intentions," "Last Lover" and "Intimate Sin."
     It would take Ava a decade to record another album. By 1997 Ava looked more stunning than ever and sounded the best she ever had. J-Bird records released "Spend The Night," a six track compact disc to rave
reviews. The title track, co-written by Cherry, is a slow, vamping, romantic tune that's pleasant.
"If You Want My Lovin'" chugs along like a freight train carrying a chugging beat never changing once in nearly five minutes.
Another Cherry composition,
"You Are," has a little more going for it, with its eerie, floating feel and Cherry's feathery, sensual vocal. A remake of Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots" is more pleasing than Rushen's bouncy,
cutesy original; Cherry's rendition is slower, sexier, and more soulful, her husky vocal making the song a bona fide keeper.
"Say" has a dark, hypnotic bass line that makes it instantly likable; the lyrics are a romantic plea,
and the backing singers ooh and ahh in all the right places. The 12" hit was
"Gimme, Gimme," a mover co-written by Ava and Mauro Malavasi.
   Those of you in the
"know" may recognize Malavasi's name. He was the driving force behind the disco classics by The Peter Jacques Band, and Change. He is also noted for his work with Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford
and Luther Vandross. His legacy is rounded out with his enormous work with blind singer Andrea Bocelli. His friendship with Ava goes way back and he co-wrote two songs for this release. Ava proudly retained Executive
Producer status on this, her finest work since
Ava keeps busy today singing background vocals on various studio productions and has a new single, "Work That Body" and album, "Life Songs" out. Amazingly she looks more beautiful than ever and seems to just get
better, vocally, with time. Thank you to the
"Black Barbarella" for proving she's hot and that "Where There's Smoke....There's Fire!"