(Listen and Learn) Lois Powell of The Chantels Shares History of Female Groups



As discussed in But Will You Love Me Tomorrrow: An Oral History of the ‘60s Girl Groups By Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Lieobowitz, The Chantels were the original girl group who set what became the standards for style and sounds for the girl groups who came later.

Lois Powell is one of the original members of The Chantels. The members were young teens when they formed the group in the late 1950s. Formed in the Bronx, New York, The Chantels unique sound was due in part to their influence from singing with their choir at their Catholic high school, St. Anthony’s of Padua, and the influence of doo-wop singers in their neighborhoods.

Known for hit songs such as “Maybe,” “I Love You So,” and “Every Night (I Pray)” The Chantels were one of the first African American female groups to achieve national success and helped pave the way for the girl group sound that would dominate American radio in the early 1960s.

In being one of the firsts, the group encountered some difficulties when touring early on in the segregated South and coming up against shows that wanted them to perform for segregated audiences or people who were happy to have them perform on stage but not stay in hotels in their towns.Despite the success they saw on the charts, because of the working of their record label, the members of The Chantels did not receive proper financial payment for their songs and work.

Though some members did go on to continue careers in the music industry, Lois Powell went on to pursue a career in the medical field though she does sometimes perform with The Chantels for reunion shows.


Although in recent years, other artists like Destiny’s Child, SWV, Xscape, Allure, and other names became popular, we should bow down to the artists who paved the way.  Watch this interview with Right On! Digital’s Cynthia Horner and find out more.  Do your research, and buy the book, too!

Editor’s Note:

BUT WILL YOU LOVE ME TOMORROW? An Oral History of The Girl Groups,” published by Hachette Books (Sep. 5). Authors Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz interviewed more than 100 people for the book, including Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Joel, Johnny Mathis, Neil Sedaka, Paul Shaffer, Otis Williams, Darlene Love, Mary Wilson, Martha Reeves and other members of the girl groups. The book takes readers behind the scenes of the rise and height of the 1960s girl groups and describes the forces that led to their collapse. It depicts the agency of these girls and women under often impossible circumstances. The resulting book is engaging, enlightening and empowering.