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Sandy Cleveland


Shelbyville, Tennessee, born and bred, Sandy Cleveland was the seventh of 14 children. She had so impressed her junior high music teacher that he invited her to join his club act, The Imperial Seven, with whom she cut her first recording at the age of 15. A full scholarship at Tennessee State was put on pause after two years when Cleveland discovered she was pregnant. To escape the scorn of her devout Baptist family, she fled to Chicago to live with an older sister. Following a brief phone interview, Brown invited her to audition for Bandit Records. Arrow played her his most recent creation, “Boogedy Boogedy,” and though not terribly impressed with the track, Cleveland was still eager to give her all to her two Brown-penned assignments: “My Heart Would Never Lie To Me” and “We Love Together.” As planned, Cleveland made a single live pass at each track, supported by the Soul Providers trio, with Herman Frazier on drums, Michael Morrison on bass, and Patrick Williams on guitar. During the months spent waiting for the release of her first single, Sandy Cleveland gave up on her dreams of being a Bandit recording artist. Brown continued to string her along, lamenting about distribution problems. Thereon, her recording career stalled out, and she found herself parked at the end of the decade in smoky lounges as a member of the Expressions.


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