Paulette McWilliams is best known for her deep sultry velvety tones and her wide vocal range.You’ve heard her voice! The iconic voice behind Michael Jackson on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” — Michael’s biggest hit; on Aretha Franklin’s No.1 hit “Jump To It,” Billy Idol’s No. 1 hit “Mony Mony,” Luther Vandross’s “Stop To Love” and “Wait For Love,” and her contagious laugh and vocals on “Bad Boy/Having A Party,” and so many others.
She also toured and sang live with Luther Vandross and sang all of the Tammi Terrell duets with Marvin Gaye on his last tour. She has worked with some of the best artists, performers and producers in the business, such as Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Bette Midler, Billy Idol, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Lauryn Hill, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Patty LaBelle, Deborah Cox, Michael Jackson, and many others.
Paulette’s Mom used to tell her that before she could utter “cohesive baby-talk”, Paulette was singing songs. Did it have something to do with the fact that her Mom sang all the time? More than likely it did. The “lyrical and vocal dye was cast” and singing was in her DNA.
At 11-years-old, Paulette was competing on the Amateur Hour TV show and their special guest star that evening, was the one-and-only Sammy Davis Jr. Sammy pulled little Paulette aside and said she should stay on the path and don’t be discouraged due to her second-place finish on the show. It inspired her.
Years later, Paulette became the lead singer with Ask Rufus and was solely responsible for introducing the group to a friend of hers, Chaka Khan. Paulette was leaving the group, and she felt Chaka had what it took to fill her lead spot. For a period of time, Paulette and Chaka both shared the lead in Ask Rufus, and when Paulette left, Chaka took over. To this day, they remain the best friends – one of those life-changing ties that bind.
Moving from gig to gig, Paulette worked feverishly and then, thanks to a sample recording, she was “introduced” to Quincy Jones. Phil Upchurch, the world-famous jazz guitarist, sent a home studio recording to Quincy. Shortly after that, Paulette became solo/lead singer with Quincy during his “Body Heat” tour and featured her on his Mellow Madness album – the title song co-written by Paulette. Next, they toured Japan to where one of Paulette’s dreams came true, singing a duet live with the legendary Sarah Vaughan while Quincy conducted the orchestra.
“I was young and foolish in hindsight. I left Quincy. I wished I had stayed, but I didn’t. I worked with everybody: Johnny Mathis, Noel Pointer. Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler (one of her “Harlettes” and Luther Vandross (for 20 years). I also toured and recorded with Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Celine Dion, Anastacia, Whitney Houston, Patty LaBelle, Deborah Cox, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, The Temptations’ Dennis Edwards to name a few more. There are journeywoman stories to be told – rest assured,” Paulette recalls.
At this point, it is important to credit Paulette’s numerous TV commercials (work) such as Folgers Coffee, McDonalds, Diet Pepsi (with Britney Spears), Cadillac, Cover Girl, American Express, Celebrex, MasterCard, United Airlines, Budweiser Beer and the memorable, “Love Jones” tune Mercedes used triumphantly.
Today, after 40 years of recording and touring, Paulette has hit her stride with Telling Stories saying, “I was destined to sing jazz, but it took me a long time to realize it. I’ve performed at jazz festivals in Japan, clubs in London, or The Blue Note in Tokyo and other festivals like Monterey, Trinidad, Milan, Moscow and Bern, Switzerland. These shows were topped recently when she performed at the International Jazz Festival in The Netherlands in May and this June, the 16th annual Jazz Journalists Association Awards in New York City.
“It was hot and if you have ever been in New York on a hot June summer day, you know what I am talking about. The JJA Awards was being held at The Blue Note downtown off 6th Avenue. I performed two songs with my band leader, Nat Adderley Jr. I could not figure if all of these noted jazz journalists attending were going to take to me. This was their awards show, and I was just entertaining.
Well, I have to tell you, since that June day, I have heard praise upon praise. Most singers are insecure, and your audience is your jury. If I could, I would thank everyone who was in that club, and I intend to do so the next time I perform in New York,” Paulette said.
And after performing in Russia for the 13th time within a six-year span, they’ve asked her to come back again.
Paulette has also signed a new distribution deal with Sugo Music, who announced the signing and spotlighted her this January after her triumphant return from Russia in December.
“Singing and sharing my heart with any audience large or small is my very favorite thing to do.” And recording is NO second…… I’m truly grateful!!