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The Chantels were the second black girl group to have nationwide success in the United States. The group was established in the early 1950s at St. Anthony of Padua school in the Bronx. The group consisted of Arlene Smith (lead), Sonia Goring, Rene Minus, Jackie Landry Jackson and Lois Harris. They got their name from a rival school, St. Frances de Chantal.
They were discovered by Richard Barrett, lead singer of The Valentines and eventually signed to End Records. Their first single was "He's Gone" (Pop #71) in August 1957. In January 1958 they released their second single, "Maybe" (#15 Billboard Hot 100; #2 R & B chart). Several other singles were released on End, though none as successful as "Maybe."
The group was dropped by End in 1959, and Arlene Smith decided to go solo. Harris left to pursue a college education. In 1960, Annette Smith (no relation) replaced Arlene Smith, and the group went to Carlton Records, where they had their second huge hit with "Look in My Eyes" (#14 pop, #6 R&B). Several other singles followed and the group switched record labels several times. Personnel changed throughout the 1960s, with their final single released in 1970.
Arlene Smith fronted a new group of Chantels in the 1970s which featured up and coming Disco diva Carol Douglas for oldies shows and continues to perform. The remaining original Chantels reformed as well and hired Noemi (Ami) Ortiz as their new lead singer. On the PBS special Doo Wop 50, Smith reunited with the surviving original members of the Chantels and dedicated "Maybe" to Jackie Landry, who died in 1997.
The Chantels were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2001, they made the final ballot for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but did not get enough votes for induction. Despite continued appearances since then on Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballots by 1950s doo-wop groups, the Chantels have not got enough votes to reach any subsequent ballot.
1959: The Chantels EP
1961: The Chantels On Tour
1957: "He's Gone"
1958: "Every Night (I Pray)"
1958: "I Love You So"
1959: "Summer's Love"
1961: "Look in My Eyes"
1961: "Well I Told You"
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