2018 Honoree

Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills is an American Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and Broadway stage actress. Mills rose to notable success as "Dorothy" in the original Broadway run of the musical The Wiz from 1975 to 1977. The song “Home” from the show later became a number one R&B hit for Mills. During the 1980s, Mills scored five number one R&B hits, including "Home", “I Have Learned To Respect The Power of Love”, “I Feel Good All Over”, “You’re Puttin’ A Rush On Me”, and "Something In The Way (You Make Me Feel)”. Mills' won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song “Never Knew Love Like This Before” in 1981.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Mills sang gospel music as a child at Brooklyn's Cornerstone Baptist Church. Mills began her professional career at age nine, appearing in the Broadway Musical “Maggie Flynn”. After winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre six weeks straight at age eleven, Mills went on to become the opening act for The Isley Brothers In 1973. That same year, Mills was signed to Paramount records by Michael Barbiero and her first single "I Knew It Was Love" was released. Mills was later signed to Motown Records.

Mills career took a rise when she portrayed Dorothy in the Broadway Musical The Wiz, an African American adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Her song "Home" from the show would become her signature record for years, and would be covered later by Diana Ross for the movie production of The Wiz. In 1979, Mills signed to 20th Century Fox Records. There, Mills recorded some of her biggest hit records that include “Put Your Body In It” and “What Cha’ Gonna Do With My Lovin’” which reached gold status. She quickly followed this success with her 1980's project “Sweet Sensation” which featured her hit “Never Knew Love Like This Before”. The single became a Billboard hit while reaching number four on the Billboard UK Singles chart. In 1981, she featured a top hit for her and Teddy Pendergrass entitled "Two Hearts", while her 1983 project, Merciless, featured her hit cover of Prince’s "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore”.

On May 24, 1984, Mills returned to theater and later recorded the theme song for the Universal Pictures film “Fletch” starring Chevy Chase which debuted on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts. Mills success continued in 1986, when her version of “I Have Learned To Respect The Power of Love” written by singer/songwriter Angela Winbush, hit number one on the R&B Singles Chart. In 1987, her release of “If I Were Your Woman” was recorded with MCA Records. Her hits from the project include the title track, originally recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1971, "I Feel Good All Over" and "You're Puttin' A Rush On Me”. This project was certified platinum. Mills success continued in 1989 with the release of Home. Hits from that project include "The Comfort of a Man", the title track, a cover of her standard from The Wiz and another song penned by Angela Winbush titled "Something in the Way You Make Me Feel" which became another platinum record for Mills.

In 1995, Mills released a live gospel recording on GospoCentric Records entitled Personal Inspirations produced by Donald Lawrence and featured a spiritualized version of her hit "I Have Learned To Respect The Power Of Love". In 1997, Mills returned to theater and starred as the lead in a major production of Stephen Schwartz “Children of Eden” in New Jersey. More recently, Mills has been featured on singles recorded by BeBe Winans, hip/hop recording artist DMX, Fat Joe and Remy Ma to name a few.

Mills is currently touring, headlining concerts and continues to record amazing music. In addition, Mills is the founder of 444Love, a non-profit organization that serves the community in the Charlotte, NC metro area, mentoring young ladies, feeding those in need and providing empowerment workshops to young adults. Mills has a son and currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

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