Singer Nita Whitaker grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, the youngest of four children. Her father, Green Whitaker, was a singer with the Spiritual Jubilee vocal group. In her youth, she formed a gospel group with her two sisters, the Whitaker Sisters. She studied classical voice while attending Northeast Louisiana University, from which she graduated with a B.S. degree in nursing. She won the title of Miss Louisiana in 1984. Moving to Los Angeles, where she married session singer Don LaFontaine and became the mother of two daughters, she won Star Search TV amateur contest for 13 consecutive weeks, making her one of the show's grand champions. She was a member of the vocal group Next Millennium, which got as far as an Atlantic Records contract and an unreleased album before breaking up. Her performance on the demonstration recording of "I, Who Have Nothing" for Whitney Houston led to a brief appearance in the 1992 film The Bodyguard. She made other minor film and television appearances while enjoying more prominent roles in stage musicals such as touring companies of Sweeney Todd and Ragtime, as well as a Broadway-bound show based on the songs of Gamble & Huff, Me and Mrs. Jones, in which she starred as Mrs. Jones, and which premiered in Philadelphia in 2001. Whitaker recorded a self-titled debut album in 1994 and followed it with One Voice, released in 2001.
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