Rick James At The Holiday Star Theater

Source: Paul Natkin / Getty

It’s time to remember the height of one of our favorite decades, the 1980s!

And what better way to celebrate the iconic decade than by honoring artists such as The Sugarhill Gang, Yarbrough & Peoples, Midnight Star, Angela Bolfill, Vesta Williams, Debarge, and last but certainly not least Rick James?

As we continue to celebrate Unsung’s 15th anniversary, we want to truly honor these artists and the culture as they share their trials and tribulations with us.

Here are some of our favorite songs as we jam out to the 1980s!

The Sugarhill Gang:

If you call yourself a true fan of hip-hop, then this Unsung episode is perfect to watch and enjoy Thanksgiving!

Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien joined forces with the legendary Sylvia Robinson, and her husband Joe Robinson, and formed the historical hip-hop group known as The Sugarhill Gang.

In 1979, the Sugarhill Gang released their smash-hit song, “Rapper’s Delight” and changed the music industry. They saw major success throughout the decade as they released singles such as “Apache,” and “8th Wonder” which also charted high on the charts.

There are so many great SugarHill Gang songs to label as our absolute favorite, but here is our top track from the iconic SugarHill Gang!

Yarbrough & Peoples:

Now this Dallas duo dropped major hits during the 1980s!

Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples both grew up in the Southern big city, and met each other during their childhoods as they attended the same church, and music lessons together.

During his time with The Grand Theft, Yarbrough was offered a keyboard/singer, background vocalist gig for the Wilson brothers, who went on as The Gap Band. Once the tour wrapped up, Yarbrough returned to Dallas, where he reconnected with the Gap band and played his demo tape for them.

After Charlie Wilson, and their manager, Lonnie Simmons were impressed with Yarbrough’s demo they then connected him to Jonah Ellis. According to All Music, Ellis and Yarbrough recorded 7 songs, however, after they re-recorded “When the Music Stops,” Peoples was brought in as the song’s co-writers.

They renamed the track “Don’t Stop the Music,” and it went straight to the Number One spot on the R&B charts in 1981.

Yarbrough and Peoples gained more success as they released tracks such as “Don’t Waste Your Time,” “Guilty,” “Heartbeats,” and “I Wouldn’t Lie” which also topped the charts.

To keep the Unsung celebration going, we are dancing the day away to none other than this Yarbrough and Peoples song!

Midnight Star:

Midnight Star definitely brought the funk to the 1980s! And that’s the very reason why we wanted to honor them during this Unsung marathon.

The Midnight Star was formed in 1976, and two years later the group gained SOLAR Records Dick Griffey’s attention at a New York City showcase which prompted him to sign the act to the record label.

They released their debut album, entitled The Beginning in 1980, and their sophomore album Standing Together the following year. However, it wasn’t until they released their breakout album No Parking on the Dance Floor that brought their career to new heights.

Singles such as “Freak-A-Zoid,” “Slow Jam,” and “Wet My Whistle,” definitely had fans dancing throughout the decade, and made them a household name for years to come.

Angela Bolfill:

Angela Bolfill always knew the formula to making a hit record!

The Brooklyn songbird took the R&B scene by surprise as she began her career singing for Ricardo Morrero & the Group and the Dance Theater of Harlem during her teenaged years. In 1978, she recorded and released her debut album entitled Angie and stole the fans of many R&B fans.

With her smooth, jazzy powerhouse voice, Bolfill saw immediate success with singles such as “Under the Moon and Over the Sky,” “Rough Times,” and “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter.”

Bolfill went on to have a glorious career as she had a nearly 40 year-fantastic career. To truly celebrate Angela Bolfill’s contributions to the R&B industry, here’s our favorite Angela Bolfill song!


Vesta Williams:

If you were around for the late Vesta Williams, then you know we have to show her powerful Unsung episode!

The late powerhouse singer spent her childhood singing as she began her famed career. As she dove into the acting world, she also found herself as a background singer for the greats such as Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Sting, Stephanie Mills, and Anita Baker.

In 1986, Williams recorded and released her debut album entitled Vesta and saw immediate success as the album’s single “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” reached the top of R&B charts. In 1988, her success doubled as she released her second album entitled Vesta 4 U.

Here’s our favorite Vesta Williams song:



Whew, DeBarge brings back great memories!

There a few family acts that were true household names, and the DeBarge family is one of them.  In 1979, El, Mark, Randy, and Bunny formed the group and much like their brothers Tommy and Bobby, they stole America’s hearts.

As they released smash-hit albums such as The DeBarges, All This Love, In a Special Way, and Rhythm of the Night, DeBarge continuously had singes topping the charts throughout the 80s.

Here’s our favorite DeBarge song:

Rick James:

Now this last artist is no joke!

The late Rick James was light years ahead of the game as he dropped hit after hit! After he started his musical career during his teenage years, he knew that with his rockstar mindset, creativity, and his provocative charisma he could reach new heights.

His brave artistry made him an innovator within the genres of Funk and Rock for years to come. We salute Rick James for his contributions to the music industry! Here’s our favorite Rick James song:

What are your favorite Unsung moments? Tell us your favorite moments in the comments below! You don’t want to miss the Unsung 15th Anniversary marathon coming up on Thursday, November 23 starting at 9 a.m. EST.

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