Pauline Matthews was born in 1947, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. She left school at 16 and worked at Boots in Bradford but in the evenings sang songs by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald with a dance band in Leeds. When a record company scout saw her perform one night he invited her to London to do an audition and she was promptly signed as a solo artist to Fontana Records in 1963. Her first single was a poppy Mitch Murray song called Early Night.
Later her version of Aretha Franklin’s “Runnin' Out Of Fools" brought her critical acclaim and when she recorded Why Don't I Run Away From You? and On A Magic Carpet Ride these became evergreens on the Northern soul circuit.
Kiki soon found herself as a professional session singer very much in demand. She worked with Dusty Springfield, among many others. Despite her obvious talent her solo career failed to launch but she regularly performed other people's hits on BBC radio and TV. Kiki was a very good friend of Dusty Springfield, who introduced her to the US where her powerful and soulful voice soon caught the attention of Tamla Motown in 1969. Kiki Dee became the first British artist to be sign for the record company in 1970.
Despite modest success and a lot of appreciation it was only after she signed with Rocket Records that she became a household name in the UK. Her first major hits came with Amaoureuse (1973) and a year later, I Got The Music In Me (1974).
In 1975 she fronted the Kiki Dee Band which consisted of Jo Partridge (guitar), Bias Boshell (piano), Phil Curtis (bass) and Roger Pope (drums). In 1981 she was back in too charts with Star which became her best known solo commercial hit.
Kiki continued as a successful session singer and appeared in musical theatre including Pump Boys and Dinettes and the lead role in the West End musical Blood Brothers.
She also reprised "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" with Elton John, at the Live Aid Concert and Madison Square Gardens.
In 1993, another duet with Elton John, this time a Cole Porter song "True Love" gave Kiki her last chart entry.
The singer continues to work and tour and is without question one of the best female, white soul singers that Britain has ever produced.
Worth a listen:
Early Night (1963)
Why don’t I run away from you?
On a Magic Carpet Ride (1968)
I Got The Music In Me (1974)
Angel Eyes (1987)
With Elton John
Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1967)
True Love ( )
Kiki Dee Band
(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am (1975)