Sandi Sheldon

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Best remembered for the Northern soul perennial "You're Gonna Make Me Love You," singer Sandi Sheldon was born Kendra Spotswood in Englewood, NJ. The product of a neighborhood that also laid claim to…
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Best remembered for the Northern soul perennial "You're Gonna Make Me Love You," singer Sandi Sheldon was born Kendra Spotswood in Englewood, NJ. The product of a neighborhood that also laid claim to the Isley Brothers, Clyde McPhatter, and Chuck Jackson, it was perhaps inevitable that she would pursue a career in music -- when she was 18, Scepter/Wand songwriter and producer Van McCoy moved in next door, and not only did they soon begin a romance, but in 1963 she made her professional debut singing backup on the Four Buddies' McCoy-helmed "Lonely Summer." Her solo debut, "Can't He Take a Hint?," followed on Philips later that same year, credited to Kenni Woods. Sheldon would record under several names over the years, long rendering her career trajectory a mystery to even the most ardent and resourceful musicologists.

After one more Kenni Woods effort, "Back With My Baby," she performed with the Shirelles, touring with the group for about two years but never entering the studio because she remained under contract with Philips; during that time, she and McCoy also collaborated on a series of pseudonymous singles, including the Pacettes' "You Don't Know Baby," Jack & Jill's "Two of a Kind," and the Fantastic Vantastics' "Gee What a Boy." In 1965, she cut "Stickin' With My Baby," credited to Kendra Spotswood -- the lone record attributed to her birth name. "Sandi Sheldon" was a name she fabricated with McCoy for 1967's "You're Gonna Make Me Love You." A surging stomper issued on OKeh, the single made virtually no impact on its initial release, and after the same fate met 1968's "Touch My Heart," credited to the Vonettes and released on the tiny Cobblestone label, she relocated to Atlanta and retired from the music business.

The circumstances surrounding the rediscovery of "You're Gonna Make Me Love You" remain muddy: one popular theory is that a copy was in a cache of singles sold by BBC Radio One DJ John Peel to record dealer Graham Stapleton, who in turn sold it to "Froggy" Taylor, then the DJ at the influential Northern soul nightspot the Twisted Wheel. When Taylor spun the record live, the crowd went wild, and the record remains a Northern favorite to this day. However, Sheldon's whereabouts and even her real name remained unknown for decades, until she finally learned of her latter-day fame and began appearing live in front of appreciative all-nighter audiences.