Legendary Bronx girl group street naming
On Friday, April 5, at 4 p.m., the legendary
girl group of the 1950s, The Chantels,
will unveil a commemorative
street sign in honor of their 60-year
music career. The street sign entitled
“The Chantels - Hit Record “Maybe”
1958” will be posted at 166th Street and
Prospect Avenue across from St. Anthony
of Padua Catholic Church.
The unveiling will include the
members of The Chantels, Councilman
Rafael Salamanca, and others.
Immediately following the unveiling
ceremony, a musical program
will take place in the auditorium
of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic
Church, 832 East 166th Street. The
musical program will include guest
speakers Community Board 3 district
manager John Dudley, author
John Clemente (author of the book
“Girl Groups: Fabulous Females Who
Rocked the World”), and the reading
of a proclamation proclaiming April
5th as “The Chantels Day in the Borough
of The Bronx.”
A musical tribute from other New
York girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s
era will include The Cookies (“Don’t
Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby”)
and The Toys (“A Lover’s Concerto”).
The Cookies and The Toys will perform
songs by The Chantels.
The program will conclude with
The Chantels performing several of
their hit songs including their 1958
The Chantels original members
Arlene Smith, Sonia Goring (Wilson),
Lois Harris (Powell), Renee
Minus (White) and Jackie Landry
(Jackson) were raised in the Morrisania
section. As teenagers, they attended
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic
Church and Catholic School, where
they sang in the junior choir. The
girls were infl uenced by Rhythm &
Blues vocal group sounds of the era.
They came together to sing popular
music of the 1950s and named themselves
The Chantels (after their rival
school St. Frances de Chantal).
In 1957, the teens were discovered
by Richard Barrett, who is credited
for discovering Frankie Lymon and
the Teenagers and Little Anthony
and the Imperials.
While still attending St. Anthony
of Padua Catholic School in mid-1957,
The Chantels’ young voices recorded
their fi rst hit tunes “He’s Gone”
and “The Plea.” In 1958 Arlene led
what is now their signature hit song
The Chantels continued with hits
including “I Love You So,” “How
Could You Call It Off,” and many
more. Lead singer Arlene Smith departed
the group in 1960s to begin a
solo career. In 1997, Jackie Landry
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, M 16 ARCH 15-21, 2019 BTR
The original Chantels. Photo courtesy of Community Board 3
(Jackson) succumbed to breast cancer.
Today, The Chantels consist of
Lois Powell, Sonia Wilson, Renee Minus
White and Ami Ortiz. The Chantels
appeared with both Arlene
Smith and Ami Ortiz in the PBS Special
“DooWop 5,0” and the group was
inducted into the Vocal Group Hall
of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues
Foundation Hall of Fame.
Reverend Father Joseph A. Espaillat
II of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic
Church states, “I am very excited
and feel that the parish community
is privileged to host such a special
event for the south Bronx. It will be
a glorious day. Welcome home, Chantels.”
The program is organized by Beverly
Lindsay-Johnson of Kendall Research
and Entertainment, Clyde
Frazier, Sr. of the Frederick Samuel
Foundation in New York City, and
musical director Hal Keshner.
The unveiling and tribute program
are free and open to the public
(as seating permits).
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