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Sharon Renee McGee

singer and songwriter, was born Minnie Julia Riperton in Chicago, the youngest of eight children of Daniel Riperton, a Pullman porter, and Thelma (maiden name unknown). At a young age, Riperton began taking music, dance, and ballet lessons at the Lincoln Center in Chicago. At the age of nine, she decided to experience a new genre of music and began taking opera lessons, something that contributed to the cultivation of her five-octave vocal range. She sang in the choir at the Sixth Presbyterian Church and at Hyde Park High School.

At the age of fourteen, while in the Hyde Park a capella choir, she was discovered by the pianist and songwriter Raynard Miner who asked her to join the Gems a girl group he frequently played with for Chess Records Over the next few years Riperton cut a series of singles with the group including I Can ...