Barbara Randolph

~ Person


Barbara Randolph (5 May 1942 – 15 July 2002), also known as Barbara Ann Sanders, was an African American singer and actress who recorded for Motown Records in the 1960s.

She was born in Detroit, Michigan, and was adopted by the actress Lillian Randolph, who appeared in It's a Wonderful Life and many other movies. Barbara's show business career began – under the name Barbara Ann Sanders, having taken the name of Lillian's second husband - when she was eight years old, playing the part of Tanya in Bright Road with Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge. In 1957, both she and her mother Lillian briefly joined Steve Gibson's, vocal group, The Red Caps, as singers. However, regardless of common belief, Lillian Randolph and Steve Gibson were not sister and brother and he is, therefore, not Barbara's uncle (although she may have affectionately referred to him as such). James "Jay" Price, a member of the Red Caps from 1952-8, says that, while Steve and Lillian jokingly called each other "sister" and "brother," they weren't related at all. The story apparently started with a 31 December 1953 article in Jet Magazine that referred to Steve as Lillian's brother. It appeared in Major Robinson's gossip column, which carried the most outrageous (and unverified) claims from press agents. Most telling is that, in the 1910 United States Census, Lillian's mother was about 50, far too old to have given birth to Steve Gibson on October 12, 1914. She also appeared in her mother's and Gibson's nightclub acts, using her mother's maiden (and stage) name of Randolph in 1957 (and would appear with the Red Caps on many occasions in the 1960s).

Barbara Randolph first recorded as a solo singer for RCA Records in 1960. In 1964 she joined The Platters, replacing singer Zola Taylor, but left after a year and an album (The New Soul of the Platters). She also continued to work as an actress, taking the part of Dorothy in the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn. In the same year, she signed with Motown Records, but only released two singles for the company on its subsidiary Soul label - "I Got a Feeling" / "You Got Me Huntin' All Over" (Soul 35038), followed a year later by a version of "Can I Get a Witness" (Soul 35050), using the same B-side. Neither record was commercially successful, but Randolph was sufficiently highly regarded to tour with Marvin Gaye as a replacement for Tammi Terrell after Tammi became ill. Randolph also toured with The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Hugh Masekela as part of the "Motown Sound" show in 1968. She was reportedly also considered as a replacement for Florence Ballard in 1967 for the Supremes, and Diana Ross in The Supremes in 1969. Randolph used the year 1970 for entertaining US forces in Vietnam, returning to paid performances the next year.

She married Eddie Singleton, who had previously been married to Berry Gordy's ex-wife, Raynoma Liles Gordy. They opened a production company together, and Barbara Randolph retired from singing, except to re-record a version of "I Got A Feeling" for the Nightmare label in the UK in 1989. By that time, the track - and other recordings by Randolph during her brief recording career - had achieved considerable popularity in Britain on the Northern soul dance scene, and since the 1980s has been reissued on several compilation albums. A collection of her recordings, most of which dated from 1969 but had not been issued previously, was released by Spectrum Records in 2003.

Barbara Randolph died from cancer in South Africa in 2002, at the age of 60.

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Album + Compilation

Year Title RatingReleases
2003 The Collection 1


Year Title RatingReleases
1967 I Got a Feeling / You Got Me Hurtin' All Over 1

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