Norma Jean Wright e Luci Martin sono due cantanti eccezionali che costituivano l'anima sensuale e la nota distintiva del gruppo storico "Chic". Tra i successi più conosciuti del gruppo c'è il famoso singolo "Dance Dance Dance" che, oltre a meritarsi gli ambiti dischi di platino, ha segnato un epoca, l'epoca dello Studio54, quando la musica ed il ballo erano uno stile di vita all'insegna del "Good music, like good times".
Dopo il succeso con il gruppo Chic ed alcuni album insieme la coppia Martin & Wright ha colla borato con artisti del calibro di Madonna, i Rolling Stone, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson. Lauryn Hill, e Deborah Cox, che sono rimasti affascinati dalle caratteristiche vocali uniche di queste artiste, le cui interpretazioni toccano le corde più profonde dell'anima.
Le loro composizioni vocali sono state campionate dai più noti rapper, da Will Smith a Puff Daddy. Norma Jean Wright e Luci Martin hanno portato in tutto il mondo i pezzi “storici “ e le nuove composizioni in fortunate tournée che dalla Russia all' Asia , dall' Inghilterra alla Spagna , le ha fatte finalmente approdare in Italia. Gli Adika Pongo sono oramai una realtà musicale sin dal 1994, anno in cui leader e fondatore del gruppo era quel Niccolò Fabi che sarebbe poi divenuto cantautore affermato. Da allora la band, capitanata da Alessandro Benedetti e Costantino Ladisa, non si è mai arrestata.
Con una media di un centinaio di date l’anno si sono prefissati il compito di portare in giro per i migliori locali italiani, destinati alla musica dal vivo, quella che veniva chiamata un tempo "Disco Music" e che era suonata da band numerose come gli Earth Wind & Fire, gli Chic, Barry White, Kool & The Gang e tanti altri. E’ in pratica un tentativo di distaccare gli spettatori da un posticcio modo di divertirsi per arrivare a sposare la causa di un gioco fatto di buona musica dal vivo e tanta energia condivisa con il pubblico; cosa che alla band riesce particolarmente bene vista l’approvazione di un grande della musica dance come Lionel Richie che, alla fine di una performance con gli Adika Pongo, gli ha fatto esclamare dal palco "This band is absolutely amazing"!
Dopo aver partecipato alla colonna sonora del film prodotto da Anna Falchi “Nessun messaggio in segreteria” e dopo una tournee estiva al fianco delle voci originali degli Chic (Norma Jean Wright e Luci Martin) e di Mike Francis (ricordiamo hit degli anni ottanta come "Survivor” e “Friends"), gli Adika Pongo hanno voluto rilanciare e catapultarsi in una nuova dimensione, rafforzando la loro idea di Band. Dopo aver ideato e portato in giro per l’Italia per ben due anni, il “Big Party Live Show”, spettacolo sponsorizzato da Alleanza Assicurazioni, vero e proprio show al quale hanno partecipato un corpo di ballo formato da quattro ballerine e una sensazionale sezione d’archi, gli Adika Pongo hanno deciso di sviluppare un diverso concetto di Band che va anche al di là della compagine vera e propria. Il progetto è quello di creare una vera e propria "factory", un marchio di qualità sotto la quale egida possano convivere tutte le migliori produzioni italiane che pongono il gesto artistico al centro del loro interesse.
Infatti, ad oggi gli Adika Pongo possono contare su una variegata serie di situazioni musicali che vanno dall’acustico all’elettrico. La eriKart ha deciso di assecondare questo processo e di coordinare tutte quelle forze artistiche che si sentono “accese” da questo stesso ideale; ed è così che dall’unione di tutti questi artisti nasce la Adika Pongo Factory.
Norma Jean hails from the tiny town of Elyria, Ohio.
Not your standard place for the birth of a star. Singing came natural to beautiful Norma Wright and by 17 Norma, her sister and a friend had their own girl group, "The Topettes." Norma continued singing throughout high school and into her college years at Ohio State University.
After graduation she landed a job as a financial investigator, but soon became disenchanted with the 9 to 5 grind and her desire to sing won out. Her first taste of a professional career happened when she was asked to accompany The Spinners on tour. She sang backgrounds and did the lead vocal for "Then Came You," which The Spinners had recorded with Dionne Warwick.
After the tour Norma knew that in order to find any success she'd have to move to New York. Once in the Big Apple she landed a job co-fronting a top 40/rock band with Luci Martin. The girls quickly became friends and remain so today. She was introduced to Nile Rogers & Bernard Edwards through a mutual friend. This friend had worked with them on gigs and was aware that they were working on some music, and that they were looking for a female vocalist to join their band which consisted of (Nile, Bernard, and Tony Thompson). When she met them they were working on "Dance, Dance, Dance" as a demo. She auditioned for them and they were impressed enough to ask her to join their group as lead vocalist. She agreed and continued to work with them on other material. Meanwhile she got a job in Canada and went there with Luci Martin.
While in Canada, she was informed by Nile & Bernard that the songs they had been working on were picked up by Atlantic Records. Upon hearing this news she returned to New York. Back in N.Y. they set about recording material for a full album. The single "Dance, Dance, Dance" had been first released on Buddah Records and when Atlantic Records picked it up for distribution, and it took off, the demand for an album was inevitable. Norma added her stunning vocals to "Everybody Dance" and the ballad "Falling In Love With You."
Luther Vandross, who had been contracted for backgrounds, brought along one of the female singers from his group Luther. Alfa Anderson shared backgrounds with Norma and is given credit on the first album. Eventually it was suggested by Nile & Bernard that having another girl in the group would add sex appeal, plus they could do a lot more with 2 voices in their live show.
With this in mind, Norma introduced them to Luci and she became the 5th member of the group. After Norma left, a year or so later, Alfa was hired as a principle member to replace her. Norma relates a funny story from her beginnings with Chic: "My boyfriend at the time (several months before the songs hit) happened to be the national R&B promotion man at Atlantic Records. I let him hear "Dance, Dance, Dance" & "Everybody Dance" as demos, and asked him to let the A&R person at Atlantic hear the songs.
This is before we were signed to the label. Well his response after hearing the two songs was he didn't think the songs were strong enough so he refused to play them for the A&R guy. Well, as fate would have it we broke up, and within months the songs were heard and signed by someone else at Atlantic! My ex-boyfriend who was still working at Atlantic ended up having to promote the records but he didn't find out until months later to his dismay that these were the same songs that I had asked him to listen to, and he had turned them down. He had no idea that I was a member in the group.
So you can imagine how embarrassed he was to see me at a promotion party sponsored by Atlantic Records and to be reminded that these two hit songs, were the same songs that he had turned down." Once Chic's first album became successful, Norma was offered a solo deal with Bearsville Records. Everyone felt this was a good idea because Atlantic and Bearsville were both distributed under the same parent company, although they were different labels.
The initial plan was that she would continue to be Chic's lead vocalist and also be allowed to do solo projects, and that Nile & Bernard would produce her solo material. However it became legally complicated and she was not allowed to continue on with the group if she wished to record as a solo artist. This was very disheartening for her. "I have read several erroneous articles stating that it was MY decision to leave Chic.
For the record it was "the powers that be", that made that choice for me" stated Wright. So as it was Norma Jean only appears on the first Chic album but that didn't stop her voice. Norma's debut album, 1978's "Norma Jean" could have easily been the second Chic album. All of the same players, vocalists, arrangers and producers pulled together to launch her solo effort. The intial 12" single, "Saturday" became an instant smash with it's pounding beat and craftily layered Chic sound. Subsequent 12" tracks, "Having A Party," "Sorcerer" and "High Society" received heavy club play but could not equal the chart success of "Saturday."
Although the album was a smash there was a plan for a second album but Nile & Bernard's fee was much more than the label wished to pay for and the album never materialized. Norma rode the crest of her solo album into the end of the disco era. She did club tours and appeared on such television shows as "Soul Alive," "Soap Factory Disco" and "Soul Train." Then the bottom fell out of the disco market. Unfortunately Norma was viewed as a disco artist, although one listen and you know she's much more than that. In the 1980's she worked with, and did a lot of session singing for various artists.
She can be heard on albums by Luther Vandross, Stephanie Mills, The Spinners, Mtume & Lucas, D-Train, Freddie Jackson, Michael Jackson, Deborah Gibson, Madonna, C&C Music Factory, the list goes on and on. She also traveled on tour with the German group, Nena, who recorded "99 Luft Balloons. "She released three 12" singles under her own moniker during the 1980's. "Love Attack" (Mirage Records 1983). The song was produced by Skip Anderson, a keyboard player for Luther Vandross. "Shot In The Dark" (MCA Records 1984). Which was written and produced by Raymond Jones and "Every Bit Of This Love" (MCA Records 1985) produced by Hubert Eaves III of D-Train. When questioned about her session work and the highlight of singing on Madonna's debut album Norma said: "I met Madonna at a dance class we both took together, and after we met each other we would take the train home together.
She didn't know a lot of people in the music business, so I introduced her to some of the people I knew. On her first album, which was recorded by Reggie Lucas, I sang backgrounds on all of the songs. On some of them it's just me along with Madonna. Others included me, Brenda King and the late Gwen Guthrie in the background." By the 1990's the clamor for anything connected to retro-disco brought a Chic reunion in 1991. Neither Norma, Luci or Alfa were asked to participate much to the dismay of worldwide fans.
But Norma was fine with that decision for she was forging many new paths. She was under contract at the time with Sony/Forty Acres for the "State Of Art" project that she recorded with friend and ex-Chic keyboardist Raymond Jones. Her friendship and business association with him continues today. She also appears on his solo works "Acts Of Love" (1991) and "Intimate" (2002). She still continues her friendship with Luci and Alfa. Alfa Anderson is married and is presently the Principal of a school, she still lives in New York. Luci lives in Florida where she is raising her son. In fact Luci and Norma have something coming out in Germany on Peppermint Jam entitled "Just A Touch Of Love," also in Japan with GTS "Let's Bounce" and a remake of "I Want Your Love." They continue to perform together and write as well. Alfa, Norma and Luci have been discussing a trio outing that could materialize soon.
One of the many avenues that Norma has travelled is artist management. "I produced and co-wrote a song for Epic artist, Eric Gable and worked with and co-produced Maxz Volume, as well the State Of Art project with Raymond Jones. I started managing as an off shoot to writing and production work. After producing a project on Lori Gold I was asked if I would consider co-managing her with her mom Rene' Goldstein. That was several years ago. Lori Gold is presently known as Reina, and has had several big dance hits here in the States" recalled Norma. Presently Norma is doing writing and production and was featured on a song entitled "Get Up," by Maxz Volume. She co-wrote and arranged the song and it was released on Strictly Rhythm Records.
It was reissued in March (2002) with several new remixes. She also co-wrote & sang on another project with DJ's/producers Michael Lange and Boris Dlugosch out of Germany. The song is entitled "Louder Than Words" and it was released on Peppermint Jam Records in the fall of 2001. Also a song that she sang on with Byron Stingly, produced by The Basement Boys, was released in January 2002 on Nervous Records. The song is a remake of the old Change tune "Paradise." After over three decades it's wonderful to see Norma so active in the dance music industry. She is still as gorgeous as ever and that voice... well that voice goes down in disco history as one of the most prolific to be recorded.
Thank you Norma for keeping us dancing through the years!