Sylvia Robinson, a former soul singer who produced hip-hop’s first commercially successful single, “Rapper’s Delight,” has died. Sylvia died of congestive heart failure in New Jersey.
In 1979, Sylvia and her husband Joe co-founded Sugar Hill Records, the record label that launched the earliest rap albums from Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, the Funky Four Plus One and the Treacherous Three. As noted by Entertainment Weekly, her ultimate claim to fame was recruiting rappers Master Gee, Big Bank Hank and Wonder Mike to create “Rapper’s Delight,” known as the very first rap song to catapult into mainstream music.
Before launching Sugar Hill Records which folded in 1986, Sylvia had a pretty strong singing career and had a big hit, “Pillow Talk” back in 1973. She also sang the 1956 classic hit “Love is Strange” which resulted in popularity from a scene in Dirty Dancing.