For Stone and many house singers, the success of the major labels proved creatively restrictive, as the corporate world expected them to repeat the same hit formula (“when I wanted to spread my wings, I was locked in a box,” she says). The umbrella term “diva” also seemed to overshadow the distinct splendor of individual performers. “I never identified with the term ‘diva,'” Stone says. “I had three small children at home when Show Me Love came out; after I went on stage, I came back to feed my children and change nappies.” She remains humble, adding that she is now in her element as an independent artist: “Standing in front of the public at 60 is truly a blessing.”
While the industry’s lack of credit for club singers remains an issue (as noted by Jumi Akinfenwa in a Guardian 2021 feature), the digital age makes it easier to spotlight innovators and share inspirations. “It’s a hugely positive thing, because it shows record companies that you don’t have to just put a grating young voice on a house track,” says Paulette. “It’s really thanks to people being as open-minded as possible with the music.”
Voice of club culture
Incredibly expansive Mancunian singer-songwriter Rowetta Satchell has brought her powerful voice to multi-genre projects, including her work with Happy Mondays since 1990. She’s emphatically not a backing vocalist. She also remains a prominent voice in club culture; a 2008 version of Robin S’s Show Me Love (mixed by Steve Angello and Laidback Luke) opens with Satchell’s vocals (and lyrics) from his 1990 track with Sweet Mercy, Reach Out. It’s a sample she’s now rightly recognized and paid for.
Satchell also remembers clubbing at the Hacienda in the early 90s and being surprised to hear her vocals on new dance tracks (which turned out to be Eterna from Slam and Baby Can You Reach). from Limelife). “At the time, I didn’t know you could sample people, or that there was an a capella version of Reach Out floating around,” Satchell says. “At the time, you couldn’t search Google. I later told Todd Terry [the superstar DJ/producer behind Limelife] off, and I’ve done a few tracks with him now. I will say what I think; you can be impressed with someone, but never lose your true self. I like my job; I don’t care about the famous thing, but I want to be respected for my voice. The people I’ve always wanted to work with are approaching me now.” Satchell has proven that she can sing just about any style, but she retains an emotional connection to house music, because “You can sing in as a woman with an attitude, whether you shout it or sing it softly”.