With his striking androgynous appearance and stunning falsetto, disco artist Sylvester was one of the few openly gay artists in the late 70s disco scene. Born Sylvester James on September 6, 1947 in Los Angeles, the lovingly dubbed “Queen of Disco” grew up in a religious household and took his first steps in music singing in his local Pentecostal church. After being rejected by the congregation because of his homosexuality, he relocated to San Francisco in 1970 and found solace in the city’s thriving drag scene, namely avant-garde theater group The Cockettes. Following a brief stint as the frontman for the short-lived rock band Sylvester and his Hot Band, James embarked on a solo career and signed with Fantasy Records for his eponymous 1977 debut. The album’s moderate success paved the way for Step II (1978), a disco extravaganza that spawned the hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” which topped the dance charts in both the US and the UK. As the disco boom started to slowly fade away, James signed to the dance-oriented label Megatone Records and pivoted to electronic dance music and Hi-NRG with the albums All I Need (1982), Call Me (1983), M-1015 (1984), and Mutual Attraction (1986), his last offering before passing away from complications of AIDS in 1988.

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Stations Featuring Sylvester

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