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From 1965 to 1972, Cassandra Ann Wooten and Gwen Oliver, who met in their school glee club, were part of a group called "Honey & The Bees," a rhythm and blues quartet with Nadine Felder and Jean Davis based in Philadelphia, a city which nurtured an abundance of musical activity and talent.

Both women recalled with amusement some of their earliest experiences and memories of the boys out on the corner fighting over who was going to sing bass or tenor, while the girls were singing in each other's living rooms or on the front steps, getting each "doo-wa-doo" down pat. "While we used to practice," recalled Gwen, "our parents used to say: 'Oh no, not tonight; you can quit early tonight, you poor girls.'" All that practice paid off though, when "Honey & The Bees" gained minor success with regional hits like: "That's What Boys Are Made For," "Better Come Get It," and "It's Gonna Take A Miracle." Did Cassandra and Gwen get swelled heads? Not exactly when you consider they were too busy putting up with a few unexpected surprises they came up against in the cruel, heartless world.

"One time in Bristol, Pennsylvania" reflected Cassandra, "we worked this rinky-dink club and weren't really getting paid much money. The club owner, for some odd reason, thought he was paying us grand-theft cash. We hadn't brought a public address system since we were accustomed to working in clubs which had one, but the owner thought we had come unprepared. He started fussing and saying things like "Yeah, everytime I hire you professional groups and pay you all this money I get all these problems." He started ranting and raving to the point where he wanted to fight us four girls, but we didn't want to 'cause he was around 70 years old! Though his wife tried to calm him down, he said he was going to get a gun and blow us away! So we got up on stage, of course, and started singing without microphones. We were glad to do it; man, were we scared!" They also remembered the good times, particularly the days that they appeared at the Uptown Theatre, the Philadelphia equivalent of New York's Apollo Theatre which broke in so many contemporary artists. "It was the best place to be in the whole world" exclaimed Cassandra.

Peanut Vendor
Dance With Me
Life Is Fascination
Lady Champagne
Let's Pool

Produced by: Jacques Morali for Can't Stop Productions
Arrangements & Assistant Production: Ritchie Rome
General Supervisor: Henri Belolo

After the group "Honey & the Bees" disbanded, the disillusioned Gwen and Cassandra joined the Philadelphia School Of Performing Arts where they met Cheryl. The three girls, Gwendolyn Oliver, Cheryl Mason Jacks, and Cassandra Ann Wooten were brought in to do session work for Ritchie Rome who created The Ritchie Family.

The Ritchie Family surfaced in 1975 with the album "Brazil" which contained the title song, "Brazil" and impressive remakes of "Peanut Vendor" and "Frenesi."

Gwendolyn Oliver, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Cassandra Ann Wooten

Vocals: Gwendolyn Oliver, Cassandra Ann Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks

The Best Disco In Town
Baby I'm On Fire
Romantic Love
Arabian Nights (Medley):
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
- Lawrence Of Arabia (More Than Yesterday, Less Than Tomorrow)
- In A Persian Market Place (Show Me How You Dance)

Produced by: Jacques Morali and Ritchie Rome for Can't Stop Productions
General Supervisor: Henri Belolo


The second album was "Arabian Nights" which included the hit medley "The Best Disco In Town." This was a concept album on side 2 with a 14:26 minute "Arabian Nights" medley which included "Istanbul (Not Constantinople,) Lawrence of Arabia (More than yesterday, less than tomorrow,) and In a Persian Market (Show me how you dance.) Ritchie Rome and Jacques Morali arranged, co-wrote and produced the album.

Vocals: Cassandra Ann Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Gwendolyn Oliver

Life Is Music
Lady Luck
Long Distance Romance
Super Lover
Disco Blues

Produced and Arranged by: Jacques Morali and Ritchie Rome for Can't Stop Productions
General Supervisor: Henri Belolo


The third album was "Life Is Music" which featured the album title song "Life Is Music" and a song popular in discos called "Lady Luck."

Vocals: Cheryl Mason Jacks, Cassandra Ann Wooten, Gwendolyn Oliver

African Queens
Theme Of Nefertiti
Theme Of Cleopatra
Theme Of Queen Of Sheba
African Queens (Reprise)
Summer Dance
Quiet Village

Produced by: Jacques Morali for Can't Stop Productions
Executive Producer: Henri Belolo


In 1977 producer Jacques Morali took total control of The Ritchie Family with his new partners: Henri Belolo, Phil Hurtt, and Horace Ott. The Ritchie Family's fourth album "African Queens" was released. Many consider "African Queens" to be their consumate album. This concept album contained the excellent song "Quiet Village." This concept album had a 12:45 minute "African Queens" medley on side one with "African Queens," "Theme of Nefertiti," "Theme of Cleopatra," "Theme of the Queen of Sheba" and "African Queens (reprise."

The albums "Brazil," "Arabian Nights," "Life Is Music," and "African Queens" defined The Ritchie Family sound. Changes had only begun though: 20th Century Records out, T.K.-Marlin Records in, Richie Rome out, Henri Belolo in. Sadly it seems the changes were more than any of the parties involved could handle. Consequently, "African Queens" was to be the final album for Cheryl, Cassandra, and Gwendolyn. This was the end of an era for the Ritchie Family sound, and a new group of girls with a completely new sound were to begin.

Vocals: Ednah Holt, Dodie Draher, Jacqui Smith-Lee

Big Spender
Good In Love
Music Man
American Generation
I Feel Disco Good

Composed and Produced by: Jacques Morali for Can't Stop Productions
Executive Producer: Henri Belolo

1978 brought a new set of girls to The Ritchie Family: Ednah Holt, Dodie Draher, and Jacqui Smith-Lee. This line-up released "American Generation" for T.K.-Marlin Records.

Ednah left "The Ritchie Family" and formed a new group with 3 other girls called "Ednah Holt & Starluv," and they released the single "People Come Dance."

Vocals: Vera Brown, Dodie Draher, Jacqui Smith-Lee

Put Your Feet To The Beat
Bad Reputation
- It's A Man's World
- Where Are the Men
Sexy Man

Produced by: Jacques Morali for Can't Stop Productions
Executive Producer: Henri Belolo


Ednah Holt was replaced by Vera Brown, who became the group's lead singer from then on. The Ritchie family released the album "Bad Reputation" for Casablanca Records. The single release was "Put Your Feet to the Beat."

In 1979 the soundtrack of a French film by Jean Yanne called “Je Te Tiens, Tu Me Tiens Par La Barbichette” was released. The Ritchie Family performed the song "La Barbichette" in the movie but it was not included in a Ritchie Family album.

Vocals: Vera Brown, Dodie Draher, Jacqui Smith-Lee

Give Me A Break
I'll Never Be Able To Set You Free
All My Love
Not As Bad As It Seems
Single Man

Produced by: Jacques Morali for Can't Stop Productions
Executive Producer: Henri Belolo


In 1980 "The Ritchie Family" released "Give Me A Break" for Casablanca Records with a single of the same title, after they appeared and performed it in the movie "Can't Stop The Music."

Vocals: Vera Brown, Jacqui Smith-Lee, Dodie Draher

I'll Do My Best (For You Baby)
This Love's On Me
One And Only
You Can Always Count On Me
Walk With Me
Alright On The Night
Tonight I need To Have Your Love
You've Got Me Dancin'

Produced by: Fred Petrus / Little Macho Music Co. for Can't Stop Productions


In 1982 the Ritchie Family's eighth album "I'll Do My Best" was released on RCA Records. Jacques Morali out, Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi in. Casablanca out, RCA Records in. "I'll Do My Best (For You Baby)" was the first time The Ritchie Family enjoyed radio play and club play simultaneously in several years. Yet another series of changes were in the air.

Vocals: Linda James, Jacqui Smith-Lee, Vera Brown

Real Love
Stop And Think
All Night All Right
I Wanna Be Yours (duet with Miles J. Davis)
Live It Up
Cold Winds
Lost In Your Love

Produced by: Gavin Christopher & Jimmy Douglas for Can't Stop Productions
Executive Producer: Henri Belolo

Linda James, Jacqui Smith-Lee, Vera Brown

In 1983 "All Night, All Right" was the last album released by The Ritchie Family on RCA Records. Dodie Draher was replaced by Linda James. Over the years The Ritchie Family had 9 albums, 8 talented women, 5 production teams, and 4 record labels. The group has since performed in Europe.

The Ritchie Family with Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo.
This website is dedicated to Jacques Morali who died of AIDS complications in 1991.



Brazil (20th Century 2218, 1975)
I Want To Dance With You (Dance With Me) (20th Century 7" 2252, 12" TCD-51, 1975)
The Best Disco In Town (Part 1 & 2) (Marlin 3306, 1976)
Life Is Music (Marlin 3309, 1977) / Lady Luck (TK Disco 12" TKD-26, 1977)
Quiet Village (Marlin 3316, 1977)
American Generation (TK Disco 12" TKD-97, 1978)
La Barbichette / Forever Dancing (Able 1794 (Canada) 1978)
It's A Man's World (Casablanca, 1979)
Put Your Feet To The Beat / Bad Reputation (Casablanca 12" NBD 20192, 1979)
Give Me A Break (Casablanca 12" NBD 20213, 1980)
All My Love (Casablanca 2292, 1980)
I'll Do My Best (RCA 12" JD 13092, 1982)
Walk With Me (RCA JD 13281, 1982)
Alright On The Night (RCA 12" JD 13344, 1982)
All Night, All Right (RCA 12" JD 13551, 1983)


Brazil (20th Century LP T-498, 1975)
Arabian Nights (Marlin LP 2201, 1976)
Life Is Music (Marlin LP 2203, 1977)
African Queens (Marlin LP 2206, 1977)
American Generation (Marlin LP 2215, 1978)
Bad Reputation (Casablanca LP NBLP-7166, 1979)
Give Me A Break (Casablanca LP NBLP-7223, 1980)
I'll Do My Best (RCA LP AFL1-4323, 1982)
All Night, All Right (RCA LP AFL1-4601, 1983)


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