Atlantic Starr was among the top urban contemporary acts of the '80s and fared well in the adult contemporary market as well, but their roots were '70s soul and funk.
Several members first recorded together as Newban
, a funk group that released two 1977 albums, Newban and Newban 2, on the Guinness
label. Atlantic Starr took shape that same year, formed in White Plains, New York by three brothers: lead singer/guitarist David Lewis
, lead singer/keyboardist Wayne Lewis, and trombonist/percussionist Jonathan Lewis
. The lineup was filled out by singer Sharon Bryant
, trumpeter William Sudderth, saxophonist Damon Rentie
(who was replaced by Koran Daniels in 1981), bassist Clifford Archer, drummer Porter Carroll, Jr., and percussionist/flutist Joseph Phillips. Influenced by the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire
, New Birth
, and L.T.D.
, Atlantic Starr started playing around the northeastern U.S. They signed with A&M
and started working with Bobby Eli, a well-respected producer/songwriter from Philadelphia. Produced by Eli in 1978, Atlantic Starr's self-titled debut album wasn't a mega-platinum blockbuster but did reasonably well and contained the funk hit "Stand Up" (which made it to number 16 on Billboard's R&B singles chart). Eli went on to produce the band's second album, Straight to the Point; while that 1979 release did OK, A&M
knew that Atlantic Starr could be bigger. So in 1981, the band changed producers and enlisted James Carmichael
for their third album, Radiant. It was a wise move; Radiant and its hit single "When Love Calls" established Atlantic Starr as a supergroup in the R&B market. It was on Radiant that the charismatic Bryant
(who was featured on "When Love Calls") really blossomed as a singer and her lead vocals played a major role in the band's success. Carmichael
went on to produce 1982's Brilliance (which contained the number two R&B single "Circles") and 1983's Yours Forever; the latter includes "Touch a Four Leaf Clover," another major hit featuring Bryant