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Robin S Charting a Song for a Whole Different Future

June 02, 1993|DENNIS HUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Meet Robin S, secretary to Mayor James Garner of Hempstead, N.Y., and Top 10 artist.

Yes, the voice behind the hard-driving No. 8 "Show Me Love" is holding on to her full-time job in Long Island--for now. But she's on a leave of absence to promote her debut single--a leave that could become permanent if her career continues on the upswing.

The casual observer might call Robin S an overnight success.

Nonsense, she scoffs, tiring of the tag routinely applied to her these days.

"That's one long, long overnight--about 16 years," she says while stopping at a downtown Los Angeles hotel as part of a whirlwind national tour of dance clubs.

After clearing up the mystery of her initial--it stands for Stone--the gregarious singer talked about performing R&B and jazz in clubs in the New York area for all those years, waiting for a break that never seemed to come.

"I'm very religious, so I was praying hard that something would happen," says Stone, a New Yorker who started out singing in church choirs.

"But if it didn't I was prepared for that too, to just go on singing where I could, in clubs or wherever. I just love singing in front of people. Gather some people in a basement and I'd sing for them."

So Stone must be in heaven now that dance clubs around the country are clamoring for her.

"I love the chance to sing in all these places, but I'm taking it all in stride," Stone says matter-of-factly. "I'm too old to be hanging out and celebrating. I've got responsibilities."

Just how old she wouldn't say, but probably thirtysomething. Those responsibilities she was talking about are three children--ranging from 12 years to 15 months.

Like Stone's career, the single "Show Me Love," on Big Beat/Atlantic Records, has a long history.

Heidi Jo Spiegel, vice president and general manager of Big Beat Records, described the record's colorful history in a separate interview.

Stone recorded "Show Me Love" in 1991 for the independent label Champion Records, which promoted various mixes of it in European dance clubs. The most successful was the Stonebridge mix, which was done in Sweden. The version that scored on American pop radio is an edit of that punchy, bass-heavy mix.

Never a hit in Europe, "Show Me Love" might not have ever scored in this country either if not for Big Beat President Craig Kallman, who was impressed enough to acquire the American rights.

"There was a void in clubs at the time for a good melodic tune, with a house (music) beat, something like CeCe Peniston's 'Finally' or the songs that C+C Music Factory did," Spiegel explains.

Released to the clubs in December, "Show Me" filled that void, topping the dance charts a few months later. "This is single that started in the clubs and made it to the top, which doesn't happen that often," Spiegel says. "It was so big in clubs that pop radio wanted it. All we did was make a change--repeating the chorus more often, to make it more radio-friendly."

Unlike the typical single, "Show Me Love" isn't a tool to sell albums--not yet anyway. At the moment, it's not on any album. But one is due in mid-July.

"I didn't start it until the beginning of April," Stone says. "We could see the single was doing well enough that I'd get a chance to do an album. We started putting material together early in the year just in case."

Although it will include dance music, this won't be a dance album.

"I grew up singing gospel and R&B and jazz--and I want a chance to show that I am a versatile singer," Robin S says. "As a singer I can travel down different avenues, not just one. I don't want to be limited to dance--which could be a dead-end street. I've waited my whole life for a chance like this, and it's important for me to showcase everything I can do."

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