British soul singer Diane Charlemagne was one of the most prominent, recognizable vocalists of the post-rave era, lending her soaring, angelic voice to numerous anthems, most notably Goldie's unforgettable crossover smash "Inner City Life." Born in Manchester in 1964, she first made a name for herself in the mid-'80s after joining funk/dance group 52nd Street, appearing on their Factory-released 1984 single "Can't Afford" and both of their full-length albums, released by 10 Records/Virgin.
After the band dissolved in 1988, Charlemagne formed Cool Down Zone with 52nd Street's Tony Bowry, releasing a sole album, New Direction, in 1990 before disbanding.
She guested on early-'90s club hits by 4hero and Eskimos & Egypt, and was a member of Howie B's short-lived project Nomad Soul, but she became a fixture on the pop charts after joining Euro-dance act Urban Cookie Collective, who scored two U.K. Top Five hits ("The Key the Secret" and "Feels Like Heaven") in 1993. That same year, Charlemagne appeared on Goldie's single "Angel" (initially released under the name Metalheads), providing the newly emerging jungle/drum'n'bass sound with a soulfulness that helped popularize it. "Inner City Life" appeared the following year and reached the Top 40 of the U.K. pop chart, setting the stage for Goldie's debut full-length, Timeless, which was universally hailed as one of 1995's best albums and regarded as a landmark release of its genre. Charlemagne also contributed vocals to Goldie's beyond-ambitious 1998 double-CD Saturnz Return, as well as its more pared-down single-disc follow-up, Ring of Saturn.
Aside from her work with Goldie, Charlemagne collaborated with several other well-regarded dance producers (sometimes under the pseudonym D'Empress), including house veterans Satoshi Tomiie and Joey Negro, as well as performing live with Moby during several dates of his Play tour in the early 2000s. Around 2005, her vocals came into vogue among drum'n'bass producers once again, and she appeared on tracks by Calibre, High Contrast, Netsky, Cyantific, and many others. Sadly, Charlemagne succumbed to cancer at the age of 51 on October 28, 2015, less than a month before her solo single, "It's in Your Eyes," was scheduled for release. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi