TIR 44: Roberts and Dunning Sisters Tell How They Soared SKYY High



Brought to you by FUNKNSTUFF.NET and hosted by Scott Goldfine — musicologist and author of “Everything Is on THE ONE: The First Guide of Funk” ― “TRUTH IN RHYTHM” is the interview show that gets DEEP into the pocket with contemporary music’s foremost masters of the groove.

Featured in TIR Episode 44 (three segments): The Dunning sisters, Denise, Bonnie and Delores, and Solomon Roberts Jr., all of whom fronted one of the best known funk-R&B-dance music groups of the 1980s — the fabulous SKYY. Formed in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1973, when the singing Dunnings first met drummer-guitarist-vocalist Solomon, they then filled out the SKYY band roster and spent several years working to perfect their unique sound and craft. Along the way they teamed with record producer/keyboardist Randy Muller, famous for his leadership of Brass Construction and arranging for B.T. Express, were signed to Salsoul Records, and in 1979 released their self-titled debut album.

After releasing several albums packed full of some of the most infectious groove-heavy tracks from the period and finding moderate success in the R&B market, SKYY crossed over to the mainstream in a big way with the release of its fourth album, Skyy Line, in late 1981. That record featured the super-tight funky smash “Call Me,” which topped the R&B singles chart and led the album to the pinnacle of that chart as well. The rest of the 1980s, though, saw SKYY struggling to repeat that success, and when its label Salsoul went out of business midway through the decade, it left the group bouncing around to labels and recording less frequently. However, after signing to Atlantic Records, they launched a major comeback in 1989 with the release of their Start of a Romance album. It spun off two No. 1 R&B singles, the title track and the Quiet Storm classic, “Real Love.” Unfortunately, SKYY’s next album in 1992, Nearer to You, failed to catch fire and proved to be its last. Although the group never released another new studio album, since 1998 the Dunning sisters have continued to perform to backing tracks as the Ladies of SKYY, and they continue to do so today with dates coming up in 2018.

With its Brooklyn funk sound that augmented Brass Construction’s heavy rhythms, driving horns and inventive arrangements, SKYY enhanced that mix with a feminine flair and pop-R&B sensibility to leave behind a 13-year treasure trove of recordings for all to enjoy.

Originally, it was tremendous to land the Ladies of SKYY for this episode of TRUTH IN RHYTHM, but what was most unexpected and additionally fantastic news was getting the opportunity to also interview the man who was so instrumental in the whole SKYY thang in what was to be a rare reunion.

From Mr. Roberts’ neighborhood, his kitchen actually, is a special and wonderful time getting the full SKYY story with Denise, Bonnie, Delores and Solomon. To reference one of their great hits — Here’s to you!

Recorded February 2018