Hi, my name is Viola, and I’m a Dancing with the Stars addict. I first started watching the show in 2006, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. I love everything about it – the celebrities, the professional dancers, the costumes, the band, and the singers. Host Tom Bergeron isn’t kidding when he calls the Harold Wheeler Band and its singers the best in the land. They’ve had to play styles of music including country, pop, hip-hop, and world music. This week alone, they performed “Underneath Your Clothes” by Shakira, “Love Is in the Air” by John Paul Young, “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, and “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. All of the singers are fantastic, and I’ve been curious for a long time to know more about them. After doing some research, I’ve discovered that each of them have a wealth of experience and an impressive body of work. Since the singers never get featured on the show, I wanted to shine the spotlight on them in this post. Check out these four incredible artists- Carmen Carter, Darryl Phinnessee, Antonio Sol, and Beverley Staunton.
Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Inglewood, California, singer/songwriter Carmen Carter has an impressive resume. She’s sung in over 50 movies including Dreamgirls, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The 40-year-old Virgin, and Speed. She’s sung television theme songs for Sister Sister, Strong Medicine, Chocolate News and Touched by an Angel; she’s also sung in Mad TV, Family Guy, Married with Children, and The King of Queens just to name a few. Commercial work includes Toyota, Mountain Dew, and State Farm. She has done live performances with artists such as Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, John legend; she has done background vocals for Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, and John Tesh. She’ll be singing in the upcoming Disney film The Frog and the Princess. Carmen released her solo album, Snapshot in 2009. Carmen is also known for her unique headpieces that she wears on Dancing with the Stars. Here’s a video of her singing “Night in Tunisia” with the Big Phat Band.
Originally from East St. Louis, Darryl Phinnessee is a singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. He’s toured with artists including Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart, and Lionel Richie. He’s been a vocalist and songwriter on albums with artists such as Little Richard, Whitney Houston, Don Henley, Ray Charles, and Evanescence. Phinnessee received a Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance with Clare Fischer’s “2+2+” for their album, Free Fall. He has sung in and/or written songs for numerous movies. He also wrote the lyrics for the theme song to the television show, Frasier, called “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs,” which was nominated for an Emmy award. Recently, Phinnessee sang at Michael Jackson’s funeral in a performance of “We Are the World”. Here is Phinnessee singing several Michael Jackson songs in a recent tribute on Dancing with the Stars.
Antonio Sol is a classically trained singer and songwriter. The son of a missionary, Sol began singing at the age of two in church. He’s written songs, and toured with artists including Michael Buble, Enrique Iglesias, Rick James, and Ernie Smith. He was a finalist on American Idol in 2006, and has appeared on television shows including Arrested Development, the Latin Grammy Awards ceremonies in 2003, and the Wayne Brady Hour. Sol released his debut pop music CD Push the Play in 2003 and a latin soul album, Love’s Biggest Fan in 2007. He also has taken on an apprenticeship with Grammy nominee Jonathan Butler. Here is Sol’s artist profile.
Originally from Montréal, Canada, Beverley Staunton began performing at an early age. As a young adult, she had become one of Canada’s top live and session singers. She has sung vocals on recordings with artists including Bette Midler, Michael Crawford, and Barry Manilow. She has appeared on television shows including The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and Grease: You’re the One That I Want; and on animated shows including The Emperor’s New School and Robot Chicken. She has also done commercials for Chevy, McDonald’s, and Subway. Beverly released a jazz solo album, Here’s to You, in 2001. Here’s a song off of her solo album, “Never Give Up”.
As you can tell, each of these singers is an accomplished performer. Even though Dancing with the Stars focuses on the celebrities and professional dancers, I think it would be fantastic if we could get one performance that highlights the band and singers.