The Ritchie Family

Profile:
Female vocal trio, formed in the mid-1970s which records and performs into the 2020s.

The original line-up would reform years later. With this line-up they had a top 40 dance hit in 2016. In late 2020, they announced that they were going to record a new song. After some changes in release date, the original line up of Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason-Jacks (now Cheryl Mason-Dorman) with Renee Guillory-Wearing would have a hit with "Ice" in 2016.Then In 2021, the group announced the release their new single "Whatcha Got?". The release dates were changed. It was then postponed to June 28, 2021."

------------------------ GROUP HISTORY ------------------------

------------------- _ 1970s - 1990s _ -------------------

Two of the original line up members were in Honey And The Bees which disbanded around 1972. They were Gwen Oliver (July 21, 1949 - November 27, 2020) and Cassandra Wooten . Later they joined the Philadelphia School Of Performing Arts where they met Cheryl Mason Jacks. The trio later met Richie Rome who would create the Ritchie Family, lending his name but adding a "T" to the name Richie.

The Ritchie Family's first album Brazil used session singers, The Sweethearts and musicians, tracks and vocals were recorded before a group was formed. Oliver, Wooten and Mason-Jacks were not present on the album's recordings. When the album produced a hit, a line up was needed to go on the road and become a visual and live-vocal part of it. Wooten, Oliver and Mason-Jacks auditioned singing "Brazil" and got the part. This is where this trio's involvement began. The second album credited to The Ritchie Family, Arabian Nights was co-written & produced by Ritchie Rome and Jacques Morali and established Gwen Oliver, Cassandra Wooten & Cheryl Mason Jacks as its first official members. There would be more hits as The Ritchie Family in years to come but with different line ups.

In 1977 Richie Rome left and producer Jacques Morali took 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. Richie Rome was no longer involved with the project. They left 20th Century Records and moved to Marlin Records. African Queens was to be the final album for Cheryl, Cassandra, and Gwendolyn, who were replaced by the label. Cheryl and Cassandra would later team up with Michelle Simpson to form Cas Mijac who sang background on John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy album.

Ednah Holt, Theodosia "Dodie" Draher & Jacqui Smith-Lee were to become the first line up in the second generation of revolving Ritchie Family members. Ednah left in 1978 and was replaced by Vera Brown, who became the group's lead singer. In 1979 The Ritchie Family left Marlin Records for Casablanca Records.

In 1980 they joined Village People for the movie Can't Stop the Music and appeared on the soundtrack album. Later, Dodie Draher would be replaced in 1982 by Linda James when the group moved to RCA Records.

After deciding to split, when group owner Jacques Morali discovered he had AIDS, the group continued as "Vera Brown and the The Rich Girls" for one song called "Too Much Too Fast."

------------------------- _ 2000s _ -------------------------

In the 2010s the Ritchie Family was reformed with original members Cassandra Wooten and Cheryl Mason-Dorman (formerly Cheryl Mason-Jacks) . An interview in 2019 with Lenny Fontana on his "True House Stories" show revealed that in the early stages of reformation, Michelle Simpson from Cas Mijac had been part of the venture. After a stop and a re-start, they settled with Renee Guillory-Wearing replacing Gwen Oliver (aka Gwen Wesley). It was with this line up that the group had a top 40 hit in 2016 on the Billboard dance chart with "Ice". The Ritchie Family Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/orignalritchiefamily/) has pictures of her with Wooten, Mason-Dorman and Guillory-Wearing. One photo shows the four of them on stage suggesting a possibility that Gwen Oliver may have joined them on stage to perform.

Gwen Oliver aka Gwen Wesley was married to trombonist Fred Wesley and they had two sons. In her later years, having left music, she lived life as a committed Christian, she was active in her church, involved in Bible study.
Gwen Wesley died on November 27, 2020 at age 71.

An entry on the Ritchie Family Facebook page dated 17 December 2020, mentioned a new single, “Whatcha Got”, scheduled for release Late January or early February 2021. The release was delayed until May 19, 2021, and then June 28, 2021.

------------------------ Interviews ------------------------

* Live it Up with Donna Drake The Ritchie Family now represented by Martha Wash (Aug. 2016)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ISAAzAjg_E

* The Ritchie Family interviewed by Lenny Fontana for True House Stories # 017 (Nov. 2019)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olDOj-76sJ8

------------------------ Release ------------------------

New 2021 single “Whatcha Got” details
https://www.facebook.com/orignalritchiefamily/photos/a.923924864405957/2116113408520424/?type=3&theater
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Albums

1106 The Ritchie Family - Brazil album art The Ritchie Family Brazil (Album) 20th Century Records 1106 US 1975 Sell This Version
C 26 701 The Ritchie Family - Arabian Nights album art The Ritchie Family Arabian Nights (Album) Marlin C 26 701 France 1976 Sell This Version
ABL-17016, ABL. 17016 The Ritchie Family - Life Is Music album art The Ritchie Family Life Is Music (Album) Marlin, Marlin ABL-17016, ABL. 17016 Canada 1976 Sell This Version
SPL1-7111 The Ritchie Family - African Queens album art The Ritchie Family African Queens (Album) Marlin SPL1-7111 Spain 1977 Sell This Version
SCD499-039 The Ritchie Family - American Generation album art The Ritchie Family American Generation (Album) Marlin, Marlin SCD499-039 Australia 1978 Sell This Version
400.300 The Ritchie Family - American Generation album art The Ritchie Family American Generation(Cass, Album) Ariola 400.300 Netherlands 1978 Sell This Version
9109 627 The Ritchie Family - Bad Reputation album art The Ritchie Family Bad Reputation (Album) Casablanca 9109 627 UK 1979 Sell This Version
25S-7 The Ritchie Family - Give Me A Break album art The Ritchie Family Give Me A Break (Album) Casablanca 25S-7 Japan 1980 Sell This Version
LPS-99540 The Ritchie Family - I'll Do My Best album art Ritchie Family* I'll Do My Best (Album) RCA Victor LPS-99540 Venezuela 1982 Sell This Version
VPL1-6656 The Ritchie Family - All Night All Right album art Ritchie Family* All Night All Right (Album) RCA Victor VPL1-6656 Australia & New Zealand 1983 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

102723 The Ritchie Family - I Want To Dance With You (Dance With Me) / Lady Champagne album art The Ritchie Family I Want To Dance With You (Dance With Me) / Lady Champagne (Single) 20th Century Records 102723 New Zealand 1975 Sell This Version
TC-2218 The Ritchie Family - Brazil album art The Ritchie Family Brazil (Single, Maxi) 20th Century Records TC-2218 US 1975 Sell This Version
TPJB 1148 The Ritchie Family - L'Alba / Brazil album art Riccardo Cocciante / The Ritchie Family Riccardo Cocciante / The Ritchie Family - L'Alba / Brazil(7", Promo) RCA TPJB 1148 Italy 1975 Sell This Version
TCD-2 The Ritchie Family - Alvin Stone (The Birth & Death Of A Gangster) / Brazil album art Fantastic Four / The Ritchie Family Fantastic Four / The Ritchie Family - Alvin Stone (The Birth & Death Of A Gangster) / Brazil(7", Promo) Westbound Records, 20th Century Records TCD-2 US 1975 Sell This Version
SPBO-7100 The Ritchie Family - El Manisero album art The Ritchie Family El Manisero RCA SPBO-7100 Spain 1976 Sell This Version
SFL-2465 The Ritchie Family - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / In A Persian Market album art The Ritchie Family Istanbul (Not Constantinople) / In A Persian Market (Single) Philips SFL-2465 Japan 1976 Sell This Version
DCS-1105 The Ritchie Family - The Best Disco In Town album art The Ritchie Family The Best Disco In Town (Single, Maxi) Marlin DCS-1105 Guatemala 1976 Sell This Version
MI 30343 The Ritchie Family - Discoteca / Traga Monedas = Pin Ball album art The Ritchie Family Discoteca / Traga Monedas = Pin Ball(7", Single, Promo) Musart MI 30343 Mexico 1976 Sell This Version
ESP-556 The Ritchie Family - The Best Disco In Town / Turn The Beat Around album art The Ritchie Family / Vicki Sue Robinson The Ritchie Family / Vicki Sue Robinson - The Best Disco In Town / Turn The Beat Around(12", Promo) RCA ESP-556 Spain 1976 Sell This Version
MI 30287 The Ritchie Family - Life Is Fascination  = La Vida Es Fascinacion album art The Ritchie Family Life Is Fascination = La Vida Es Fascinacion(7", Single, Promo) Musart MI 30287 Mexico 1976 Sell This Version
AB.828 The Ritchie Family - Istanbul (Chéri Je T'aime, Chéri Je T'adore) album art The Ritchie Family Istanbul (Chéri Je T'aime, Chéri Je T'adore)(7", Single) Able AB.828 Canada 1976 Sell This Version
YD 470 The Ritchie Family - The Best Disco In Town / You Belong To My Heart  album art The Ritchie Family / El Diablo (4) The Ritchie Family / El Diablo (4) - The Best Disco In Town / You Belong To My Heart (7", Jukebox) Derby, VIP (2) YD 470 Italy 1976 Sell This Version
DBR 10002 The Ritchie Family - African Queens (Part 1/Part 2) album art The Ritchie Family African Queens (Part 1/Part 2) (Single, Maxi) Philips DBR 10002 Italy 1977 Sell This Version
3316 The Ritchie Family - The Quiet Village / Voodoo album art The Ritchie Family The Quiet Village / Voodoo (Single, Maxi) Marlin 3316 US 1977 Sell This Version
ABE. 1740 The Ritchie Family - Life Is Music / Lady Luck album art The Ritchie Family Life Is Music / Lady Luck (Single) T.K. Disco ABE. 1740 Canada 1976 Sell This Version