Andrea Tafuri

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Long Island-native Andrea Tafuri has had music in her blood since early childhood. As a second grader, she would leave for school early each morning to sit on the swing set and sing songs like the Carpenters'…
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Long Island-native Andrea Tafuri has had music in her blood since early childhood. As a second grader, she would leave for school early each morning to sit on the swing set and sing songs like the Carpenters' "Yesterday Once More." This was much to the chagrin of her mother, who was concerned for her young daughter's safety in the dawning hours of the day. Years later in high school, the budding singer was putting her vocal talent to use in her high school's theater department. By the time she was 19, Tafuri moved to Manhattan and pursued a record deal. At an audition, she met members of R&B vocal group Vertical Hold and began learning the ropes of recording studios. By way of ex-Chic member Luci Martin, she found her way in early 1989 to Sleeping Bag Records, then one of the most successful independent labels in dance music.

Signed on the strength of a self-penned ballad, she released the Vertical Hold-penned "What Am I Gonna Do About Your Love," a soulful, mid-tempo pop/dance number which became her first single. On the suggestion of Vertical Hold member Angie B, she adapted Tafuri as her stage name -- also her nickname since childhood. Sensing a downhill streak at Sleeping Bag -- which proved to happen -- Tafuri managed to get out of her deal and in 1991 signed with London-based FFRR, at the time distributed by Polygram in the U.S. She found success in Europe with a fresh yet authentic cover of Phyllis Hyman's disco classic "You Know How to Love Me," which helped her land a spot as opening act for Color Me Badd at large-scale venues such as the Hammersmith Odeon. Once back in New York from overseas touring, it became difficult for the singer to further her output with FFRR, since the man who signed her -- revered club DJ Pete Tong -- was based in London and busy concentrating on acts geographically closer to the label.

As she had used her own initiative and business smarts to attain her first two label deals without the aid of a manager, she was quick to realize the difficulty she would continue to have at the company and soon moved on to new projects. The rest of the early to mid-'90s saw Tafuri embark on a number of producer-driven dance singles, several which she co-wrote. 1993 saw the release of "Change Is What We Need" for Todd Terry's House of Gypsies on Freeze. In 1994, she co-penned and performed "You Are" for Victor Simonelli's Nu-Civilization project on SPG, and also lent her vocals to Children of the Underground's club rendition of the Tammy Wynette country classic "Stand By Your Man." Next, the vocalist lent her pipes to another disco classic with a garage/underground reading of Jean Carne's "Was That All It Was" under the moniker Solution Featuring Tafuri. The track was recorded on a hot summer day with producer Simonelli in Tafuri's own apartment (minus air conditioning to avoid unwanted noise on the recording) and was released on Doghouse in the U.S. and Fruittree in the U.K. In 1995, she co-wrote and performed lead vocals on two tracks for producer George Morel's Strictly Rhythm release, N.Y.C. Jam Session, "Right on Time," and "Running on Empty." She obtained a recording contract with the label, but asked to be released when she felt the deal would be more under the producer umbrella, as opposed to an artist venture. The next year, she was approached by Italian team the Glamour Boyz, who sent her a rough mix of a song in progress. Reworking the tune's structure and adding her own vocals stateside, the resulting "Keep on Dancing" was released on Peppermint Jam in Italy and licensed to Counting Records in the U.K.

Taking a breather from the dance music scene, Tafuri shifted her concentration to songwriting in the latter part of the 1990s. Continuing to collaborate with Vertical Hold's Gordon Mack III, as well as composing with former Spin Doctors member Eran Tabib, in 2000, she put together an 11-song CD demo to not only showcase her abilities as a vocalist, but also to pitch her songs to other artists. The demo is an eclectic mixture of acoustic pop, moody R&B, and a little bit of dance, and was picked up by Siahson Entertainment. Tafuri performed the CD's one straightforward dance/club track, "What You Want," at New York City's Gay Pride Day Stage fest on June 25, 2000.