The Chantels, the early all-girl doo-wop group whose "Maybe" and "Look in My Eyes" are rock 'n' roll classics, headlined the Southern California Doo-Wop Society's Show #34 at the Petroleum Club on October 28, 2000.
We associate the Girl Group Sound with the early 1960s, but The Chantels were making great records as early as 1957, including a number of hits. The five original members--lead soprano Arlene Smith, top soprano Lois Harris, lower alto and bass Rene Minus, second soprano Sonia Goring and second alto Jackie Landry--got together at St. Anthony of Padua School in the Bronx, where they were trained to sing Gregorian chants, and named themselves The Chantels after a neighboring Catholic school, St. Francis de Chantelle. An impromptu audition for producer Richard Barrett on 54th Street in Manhattan led to their first recording session in April 1957 for George Goldner's new End label.
Their first single, "He's Gone," became a regional hit, thanks to steady airplay by Alan Freed, Dr. Jive and Jocko Henderson, and from the first note it was obvious that this was a vocal group with an ethereal sound unlike anything that had ever been recorded before. Then came their follow-up, a poignant number called "Maybe" that climbed to #15 on the national pop charts and stayed in the Top 40 for three months in early 1958. Their third and fourth singles, "Every Night" and "I Love You So," reached #39 and #42, respectively.
Dissention within the group led to the departure of lead singer Arlene Smith in 1959, but when Richard Barrett replaced her with Annette Smith (no relation), the group continued to have big sellers with "Look in My Eyes" (#14 in 1961) and "Well, I Told You" (#29).
Though the original Chantels reunited for a special one-song appearance at the 1996 R&B Foundation Awards in Hollywood, then again regrouped last year to sing "Maybe" at a PBS-Television show in Pittsburgh, Arlene Smith has remained separate from her fellow original Chantels for 40 years and now sings exclusively in a contemporary diva-gospel style reminiscent of Whitney Houston and Patti LaBelle (and frankly, who wants to hear that?). Luckily, The Chantels were able to find a new lead singer, Ami Ortiz, who sounds exactly like the old Arlene Smith of the '50s.
Sadly, Jackie Landry is no longer with us, but Rene, Sonia and Lois (along with Ami) have kept their old sound alive and can still create those wondrous harmonies, which rang through the Petroleum Club in Long Beach, California, on the night of October 28, 2000.
For more information on today's Chantels, go to
Also see: Show #34 (10/28/2000) Show #46 (7/30/2005)
Chantels Singles End 1001 He's Gone/The Plea 1957 End 1005 Maybe/Come My Little Baby 1958 End 1015 Every Night/Whoever You Are 1958 End 1020 I Love You So/How Could You Call It Off 1958 End 1026 Prayee/Sure of Love 1958 End 1030 If You Try/Ific 1958 End 1030 If You Try/Congradulations [sic] 1958 End 1037 I Can't Take It/Never Let Go 1959 End 1048 I'm Confessin'/Goodbye to Love 1959 End 1069 Whoever You Are/How Could You Call It Off 1960 End 1103* I/Believe Me (My Angel) 1961 End 1105 There's Our Song Again/I'm the Girl 1961 End 1120** Mon Cherie Au Revoir/To Live My Life Again 1962 Carlton 555 Look in My Eyes/Glad to Be Back 1961 Carlton 564 Well, I Told You/Still 1961 Carlton 569 Here It Comes Again/Summertime 1962 Ludix 101 Eternally/Swamp Water 1963 Ludix 106 That's Why You're Happy/Some Tears Fall Dry 1963 20th Century Fox 123 There's No Forgetting You/Take Me As I Am 1965 Verve 10387 You're Welcome to My Heart/Soul of a Soldier 1966 Verve 10435 Indian Giver/It's Just Me 1966 Roul 7064 Maybe/There's No Forgetting You 1969 RCA 7A-0347 I'm Gonna Win Him Back/
Love Makes All the Difference in the World
1970 Richard Barrett & The Chantels Singles Gone 5056 Come Softly to Me/Walking Through Dreamland 1959 Gone 5060 Summer's Love/All Is Forgiven 1959 EPs End 201 I Love You So 1958 End 202 C'est Si Bon 1958 LPs End 301 We Are the Chantels (with group on the cover) 1958 End 301 The Chantels (jukebox cover) 1959 End 312 There's Our Song Again 1961 Carlton 144 The Chantels on Tour (Look in My Eyes) 1962 Forum 9104*** The Chantels Sing Their Favorites 1964 EMUS 12034 The Chantels (jukebox cover; electronic stereo) ? Murray Hill 385 Arlene Smith & The Chantels (3-disc box set) 1987 Collectables 5423 The Chantels (jukebox cover) 1991 CDs Rhino 70954 The Best of The Chantels 1990 Westside 564 We Are The Chantels/There's Our Song Again 1998 Lead singers were Arlene Smith (End), Annette Smith (Carlton) and Sandra Dawn (Ludix). Arlene Smith recorded as a solo artist for Big Top, End and Spectorious.
End 1103* was a reissue of a 1959 recording by The Veneers, with Annette Smith on lead, on Princeton 102. Both sides were included on the second Chantels LP (End 312) even though none of the original Chantels were present on the recordings.
End 1120 was Arlene Smith without The Chantels.
Forum 9104*** was a reissue of "There's Our Song Again," but with two songs deleted.
Members Arlene Smith 1957-59 (left for solo career), 1973-1980s (with her own Chantels group) Lois Harris 1957-59 (left for college), 1996-2000 Sonia Goring 1957-70, 1996-2000 Rene Minus 1957-70, 1996-2000 Jackie Landry 1957-61, 1962-70, 1996-97, died December 23, 1997 Annette Smith 1961 Yvonne Fair 1961, 1965-70 Sandra Dawn 1962-63 Ami Ortiz 1996-2000
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