Linda Clifford (born June 14, 1944, New York) is an American R&B, disco and house music singer and actress, who scored hits from the 1970s to the 1980s, most notably “If My Friends Could See Me Now”, “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “Runaway Love” and “Red Light”.
In 1973, she was signed to Paramount Records and her first single, “(It’s Gonna Be) A Long Long Winter”, became a minor hit on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart in the winter of 1974. She moved to Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records label in the mid 1970s. 1977 saw the release of her first album, Linda, but it was her dance cover of “If My Friends Could See Me Now” in 1978 that she had club and pop chartsuccess with. It was her first number one on Billboard dance chart. Album of the same name became her most successful and included also “Runaway Love”, a mid-tempo R&B track that proved to be one of her most recognizable tunes. In 1979 she released her disco version of “Bridge over Troubled Water” from the album Let Me Be Your Woman, followed by another record the same year, Here’s My Love.Clifford is a former Miss New York State, and fronted a jazz music trio before switching to R&B. After winning her title, Clifford started working as an actress, playing minor roles in major films such as The Boston Strangler with Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda, Coogan’s Bluff with Clint Eastwood and Sweet Charity with Shirley MacLaine. Unsatisfied with her roles, Clifford decided to concentrate on her singing career, performing for a year in Miami-area night clubs with the Jericho Jazz Singers, before forming her own group Linda & The Trade Winds.
In 1980 Linda released a duet album with Curtis Mayfield, The Right Combination, and recorded a song “Red Light” for the Fame soundtrack in 1980. It became another hit, reaching number one spot on American dance chart. (She would go on to have two more #1 disco hits in the USA: “Shoot Your Best Shot” (1980) and “Don’t Come Crying to Me” (1982), what makes four in total.) She released six high-profile albums when she was under contract on the Curtom label, all supervised by Curtis Mayfield, generally produced by Gil Askey (jazz trumpet player and musical director for many Motown acts) with many mixes by Jim Burgess or Jimmy Simpson, brother of Valerie Simpson from Ashford and Simpson. The sixth, I’m Yours, was produced by Isaac Hayes with the exception of one song from the Fame soundtrack (“Red Light” written by Pitchford and Gore). Curtom records were distributed by Warner Bros. (in 1977-1978), by RSO (in 1979-1980) and by the end of 1980 by Capitol.
Her contract switched entirely to Capitol for an additional album, her seventh, named I’ll Keep on Loving You (1982). It included collaboration by Luther Vandross and the original version of “All the Man That I Need”, another song written by Pitchford and Gore; they wrote this particular song with Clifford and her husband in mind and a year later it was covered by Sister Sledge, in 1990 by Whitney Houston and in 1994 by Luther Vandross under the name “All the Woman That I Need”. (On his album Songs Vandross even credited Whitney Houston for being the “artist who did the original version of the song”, forgetting that it was Linda Clifford and that he was a background vocalist and the vocal arranger of her version!)
Her 1984 offering, Sneakin’ Out did relatively well on American R&B chart. Clifford’s last studio album to date remains 1985 My Heart’s on Fire, supported by the single “The Heat in Me”. In 2001, she secured her fourth UK Singles Chart entry with “Ride the Storm”, billed as Akabu featuring Linda Clifford.