Famed for their classic 1964 single "Opportunity," R&B girl group the Jewels was formed in Washington, D.C. in 1961 by vocalists Sandra Bears, Grace Ruffin, Margie Clark and Carrie Mingo. Originally dubbed the Impalas, the fledgling quartet was soon befriended by Bo Diddley, who recorded their Checker label debut "I Need You So Much"; the record went nowhere though, and in 1962 new manager/producer Bob Lee changed their name to the Four Jewels. After issuing "Loaded With Goodies" for the local Start label, the group landed at Chess for the single "That's What They Put Erasers on Pencils For," followed by a stint as backing vocalists for singer Billy Stewart, Ruffin's first cousin. Martha Harvin replaced Mingo on subsequent outings for Dynamite, Federal and King, including several sessions produced by James Brown.
In 1964, the Jewels signed to Dimension, where the superb "Opportunity" reached number 64 on the pop charts that December. The follow-up, "But I Do," became a minor hit in mid-1965, but when Dimension folded soon after, the group toured with James Brown before dissolving three years later. In 1985, the original lineup of Bears, Ruffin, Clark and Mingo reunited, re-recording their classic hits for the album Loaded With Goodies. ~ Jason Ankeny
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