The Chantells

Stationed in the Garfield Heights suburb, LaDonna Hudson, her sister Mattie Carol Hudson, and neighbor Janice Stover caught the girl group bug early, emulating Motown well before puberty. With LaDonna as Martha Reeves/Diana Ross, the trio tried on both Dontells and Don-Duets as appellations before settling on the Chestelets. Following a divorce, the Hudson girls relocated to Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, unpacking the last box just before LaDonna’s freshman year at Glenville High School. There she met Janice's urban counterpart, Barbara Bibbs. Between LaDonna’s charm and Bibbs’ lip, the Chantells soon found themselves performing in revues at the Red Carpet and Motor Inn. At 16, LaDonna Hudson cracked her Yellow Pages open to “R” for “Record companies.” She solicited the first listing in the book: Boddie Recording Company. Thomas Boddie had just been commissioned to write and record the theme song to Ken Hawkins’ World Of Soul, a local Cleveland take on American Bandstand. The Chantells were brought in to provide screams and a refrain over Thomas’s organ-driven workout. Although the show aired only for the 1967–68 season, soul music lovers Cleveland-wide were treated to the Chantells once a week, even though the group was never credited. In 1968, Soul Kitchen issued “World Of Soul” on 45 with LaDonna’s “Why Won’t You Say (What You Want)” on the flip. Despite airplay on Ken Hawkins’ WABQ radio show, the single failed to ignite either radio waves or retail registers.

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