Sharon Paige, 67, the Philly soul singer best known for her duet with Teddy Pendergrass on the enduring 1975 Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes hit “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon,” has died.
Ms. Paige died on Sunday at her home in Southwest Philadelphia, her son Giordani Jean-Baptiste said on Tuesday. The cause of death is not yet known.
“Sharon possessed one of the most unique female vocals that blended perfectly with the smooth singing and vocal prowess of Harold Melvin and Teddy Pendergrass,” Philadelphia International Records cofounders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff said in a joint statement.
“We really enjoyed recording Sharon with the group and felt she was a great asset,” they wrote, “both for the successful launch of the act and for being a great talent in her own right.” She went on to a solo career in the 1980s.
With their suave sophistication, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes had a sound of their own among Sound of Philadelphia vocal groups, which included the O’Jays, the Intruders, and the Delfonics. Melvin led the band in the 1950s and 1960s, and then for the most part turned lead vocals over to Pendergrass, who had joined the band as a drummer.
Ms. Paige also stepped to the mike. Hers is the first voice heard on the ballad “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon,” from the album To Be True, a song written by Gamble and Huff that topped the R&B chart in 1975. She sang it as a duet with Pendergrass on a Soul Train appearance that same year (introduced by guest host Richard Pryor).
The song was the first breakout hit for the native Philadelphian, who had previously paired with Pendergrass on “You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good” and “I’m Searching for a Love,” both also written by Gamble and Huff, on 1974′s classic Wake Up Everybody.
“Hope That We Can Be Together Soon” has stood the test of time, and has taken on new resonance among Philly soul music fans in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic prevents quarantined loved ones from seeing each other in the flesh.
Bob Pantano, who hosts the popular Saturday Night Dance Party on WOGL-FM (98.1), led a Facebook singalong of the song the first week of quarantine and has played it every Saturday since. He called it “one of the great underrated duets in R&B history.”
“It always gets an ‘Oh, wow’ kind of response every week, just like back in the day,” Pantano said. “Sharon has that ‘Oh, wow’ factor with the Blue Notes because she added that great female vocal touch to an already fabulous group.”
Ms. Paige was born Sharon McCord — she used Sharon Paige as a stage name — and raised in the West Philadelphia neighborhood then known as the “Black Bottom” that was largely razed in the 1960s and is now part of University City.
Her sister, Linda McCord, said that John Whitehead, the Philly soul songwriter who partnered with Gene McFadden, discovered Ms. Paige when she was a student at Overbrook High School and introduced her to Melvin, who brought her to the attention of Gamble and Huff.
Ms. Paige was featured more prominently with Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes after Pendergrass left the group in 1976, on releases like 1980′s The Blue Album that failed to match the group’s earlier success. In the early ’80s, she released a few memorable singles under her own name, including “You Don’t Even Know My Name.”
She appeared occasionally with the Blue Notes through the late 2000s, including on the 2008 PBS special Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia, where she sang “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon” with surviving members of the group.
Jean-Baptiste said that Ms. Paige had diabetes and had given up singing, “except around the house with her nephews.” Her sister said that along with her music, Ms. Paige took pride in her cooking. “She was known for her crabs and her mussels. She loved to laugh and sing and cook.”
In addition to Jean-Baptiste, Ms. Paige is survived by another son, Karneil Brightman, a sister, Linda, a brother, Charles McCord, her father, Charles Joseph McCord, and two granddaughters, Jerlene Rosy and Jerikah Rosy.
A viewing is planned at the Francis Funeral Home, 5201 Whitby Ave. at 10 a.m. on July 20. A virtual funeral service will follow at FrancisFuneralHome.com.