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Pearly Gates (singer)

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Birth name  Viola Billups
Years active  1960s - present
Genres  Dance-pop, Soul music
Instruments  Vocals
Associated acts  The Flirtations
Occupation(s)  Singer
Role  Singer
Origin  Alabama, United States
Name  Pearly Gates

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Born  July 4, 1946 (age 69) (1946-07-04)
Albums  The Best of Pearly Gates "Action"
Record labels  RCA Records, Polydor Records, Bronze Records
Similar People  The Flirtations, Sister Lucille Pope, Emile Berliner, Ian Levine, The Bacon Brothers

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Viola Billups (born July 4, 1946), better known by her stage name Pearly Gates, is an American soul singer and member of girl group The Flirtations.



Billups was born in Alabama in 1946. She joined The Flirtations with sisters Earnestine Pearce and Betty Pearce in 1964 and moved with the group to London, England in 1968 where their music was popular. Pearly left the group in 1973 and released her first single "Sad Old Shadow", written by Lynsey De Paul and Don Gould on Polydor Records under the name Vie. She did not adapt her artist name Pearly Gates before her second single "Johnny and the Jukebox" in 1974. Several more singles followed in the late 70s on RCA Records and Bronze Records and she remained a popular artist on TV, being a regular performer on the Cliff Richard show as well as featuring in all eight episodes of the TV variety show, Hi Summer. In 1979, she completed her first album Fading Into the Night with producer Ian Levine, although the album was supposed to have been released by American singer Cobie Jones who ultimately did not make it to the sessions. The album, however, became a victim of the disco backlash and was not released until 16 years later.

In 1985, she enjoyed a Hi-NRG hit with the song "Action" and also toured with Madeline Bell and Katie Kissoon, performing with James Last Orchestra. Two of her unreleased disco tracks were released on 12" singles in Levine's Nightmare Gold series in 1987. In 1995, Levine recorded six new tracks with her (including a remake of "Action" and released them along with her lost 1979 album on the CD The Best of Pearly Gates. Pearly continues to perform regularly with The Flirtations who remain popular on the Northern Soul scene. She also ran her own management company, Viemanagement, working with boy band Dyyce and singer Anousha. In 2007, she recorded four new tracks - two solo and two with The Flirtations - for Ian Levine's Centre City Records releases Northern Soul 2007 and Disco 2008. 2008 saw her record two retro-style tracks with Scandinavian label Night Dance Records, eventually evolving into a full album project On a Winning Streak, released March 11, 2010, a 20-track compilation of new recordings, including her 2009 single "Roulette" by The Flirtations; her 3 recordings for Centre City Records; 4 previously unreleased 1977 recordings, produced by H. B. Barnum; and a Barry Gibb song, "Broken Bottles", written by the Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb, the song was originally recorded as a demo for Dionne Warwick for her 1982 album Heartbreaker but was not used. The package also included a 12-track DVD. One of the tracks "Stop for Love" was premièred on YouTube, in October 2009, featuring straight icon Zeb Atlas and gay icon Dave 'Muscles' Jenkins as the singer's love interest - a video that attracted a 100,000 views over the next six months.


  • The Best of Pearly Gates (Hot Productions, 1995)
  • On a Winning Streak (Night Dance Records, 2010)
  • Singles

  • "Sad Old Shadow" / "Stay" (as Vie - Polydor, 1973)
  • "Johnny and the Jukebox" / "They Were Good Times" (Polydor, 1974)
  • "Make It My Business to Get You Boy" / You're the One for Me" (RCA, 1975)
  • "Burning Love" (Bronze, 1978)
  • "Fandango Dancing" / "Dancing on a Dream" (Bronze, 1979)
  • "Action" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1985)
  • "Sweet (Like Honey To a Bee)" / "Action" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1985)
  • "Third Time Lucky" (Funkin' Marvellous, 1986)
  • "No Two Ways About It" (Nightmare Gold, 1987)
  • "Fading Into the Night" (Nightmare Gold, 1987)
  • "One Less Bell to Answer" / "The Race Is On" (Nightmare Records, 1989)
  • "One Time Too Many" / "Stop for Love" (Night Dance Records, 2009)
  • References

    Pearly Gates (singer) Wikipedia

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