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Loving You Is Easy: Minnie Riperton

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A Growing trend in Hollywood is famous actresses and their daughters, who are becoming actresses themselves, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner, Rumer Willis and Demi Moore but there's also a list of famous mothers who have passed away and having a famous daughter later on, like Mariska Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield.

A rarely mentioned famous mother-daughter is Minnie Riperton and Maya Rudolph, who shot to fame on Saturday Night Live for her various characters and imitation, easily one of the most funniest women in comedy today. Maya's talent is clearly a genetic gift given her mother's musical ability

Minnie Riperton, whose voice was a combination of both Diana Ross and Donna Summer was a soulful singer whose one hit wonder has lasted nearly 30 years, her albums have long gone unnoticed and many won't remember her name aside from the articles about Maya Rudolph. Minnie Riperton's career as well as her life ended with her death at age 31 from advanced breast cancer.

Minnie Riperton's life began in the outskirts of Detroit where at age 15 began her singing career with a girl group, The Gems, who provided session vocals for the Fontella Bass song "Rescue me." After the Gems broke up, Minnie began singing under the pseudonym Andrea Davis and put a few records which went largely unnoticed.

After a brief musical hiatus, Minnie joined a funky psychedelically charged group called Rotary Connection, which infused '60s hippie chic with rhythm and blues, they were asked to perform at Woodstock at the last minute but declined saying it would be too far to go from Chicago to New York, they later played Texas Pop festival, Although popular mainly in the mid-west, Rotary Connection failed to gain national success and soon disband, re-banding together in the late '70s later on with new members.

Minnie soon met the man who would become Maya Rudolph's father, Richard, who become her co-writer, moving out of the music scene and into a home in Florida, Minnie soon gave up the music business to concentrate on her kids, Maya and Marc but eventually like anything else, the Music business called her back and she went back to worth on her most famous album Perfect Angel.

The song "Lovin You" is almost a lullaby because it's slow and breathy, telling the story of a love so amazing that nothing could interfere with it, and at the end, when she hits the high note "Maya, Maya, Maya," you literally feel chills going down your spine.

Unfortunately, by late 1976, Minnie has discovered she is an advanced stage of breast cancer, days later, she has a mastectomy and is told she has six months to live, but instead of keeping it private as advised by her doctors, she goes public becoming one of the first women to acknowledge and openly discuss breast cancer but didn't discuss her terminal status. She receives a courage award by Jimmy Carter for her efforts.

While batting breast cancer, Minnie makes one last attempt to revive her singing career but unfortunately she succumbs on July 12 1979 a few weeks before Maya's seventh birthday, dying in Richards arms. Her funeral drawing nearly 500 people including Stevie Wonder, who created a special recording for her just days before her death.

Although Minnie had limited music success, she is still considered an icon for her vocal ability and Mariah Carey, who in her glory days of music, once credited Minnie with giving her the inspiration on getting into the music business.

Minnie Riperton's legacy isn't about her music, her biggest legacy is the success of her children, who took themselves out of the Hollywood kid equation to rise up and become successful on their own merit.

So while we celebrated the past weekend's birthday of Maya Rudolph, we mourned the passing of someone who's musical talent helped shape some of the greatest singers of the 21st century.

What is your favorite Maya Rudolph Sketch, Your favorite Minnie Riperton song?