The Chantels (PR photo)


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 1001He's Gone/The Plea1957
End 1005Maybe/Come My Little Baby1958
End 1015Every Night/Whoever You Are1958
End 1020I Love You So/How Could You Call It Off1958
End 1026Prayee/Sure of Love1958
End 1030If You Try/Ific1958
End 1030If You Try/Congradulations [sic]1958
End 1037I Can't Take It/Never Let Go1959
End 1048I'm Confessin'/Goodbye to Love1959
End 1069Whoever You Are/How Could You Call It Off1960
End 1103*I/Believe Me (My Angel)1961
End 1105There's Our Song Again/I'm the Girl1961
End 1120**Mon Cherie Au Revoir/To Live My Life Again1962
Carlton 555Look in My Eyes/Glad to Be Back1961
Carlton 564Well, I Told You/Still1961
Carlton 569Here It Comes Again/Summertime1962
Ludix 101Eternally/Swamp Water1963
Ludix 106That's Why You're Happy/Some Tears Fall Dry1963
20th Century Fox 123There's No Forgetting You/Take Me As I Am1965
Verve 10387You're Welcome to My Heart/Soul of a Soldier1966
Verve 10435Indian Giver/It's Just Me1966
Roul 7064Maybe/There's No Forgetting You1969
RCA 7A-0347I'm Gonna Win Him Back/
Love Makes All the Difference in the World
Richard Barrett & The Chantels Singles
Gone 5056Come Softly to Me/Walking Through Dreamland1959
Gone 5060Summer's Love/All Is Forgiven1959
End 201I Love You So1958
End 202C'est Si Bon1958
End 301We Are the Chantels (with group on the cover)1958
End 301The Chantels (jukebox cover)1959
End 312There's Our Song Again1961
Carlton 144The Chantels on Tour (Look in My Eyes)1962
Forum 9104***The Chantels Sing Their Favorites1964
EMUS 12034The Chantels (jukebox cover; electronic stereo)?
Murray Hill 385Arlene Smith & The Chantels (3-disc box set)1987
Collectables 5423The Chantels (jukebox cover)1991
Rhino 70954The Best of The Chantels1990
Westside 564We Are The Chantels/There's Our Song Again1998
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.

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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