Darlene Love may be a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and “one of the greatest singers of all times,” according to “Rolling Stone,” but the 74-year-old singer never became a household name even though generations of Americans have danced to her hits.
The daughter of a minister, she got her start singing in the choir in her father’s Los Angeles church. Producer Phil Specter discovered love and, in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, she sang back-up to some of the biggest artists of the era, Sam Cooke, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Sonny and Cher.
Her first single, “He’s a Rebel,” was a huge hit, except for one problem. Specter, eager to get the recording to market, credited the performance to another, better known group, The Crystals.
But, Love refused to give up and the spunky singer got the last laugh when filmmakers approached her in 2013 to appear in a documentary about her career.
“When you talk about the things that happen to you in the business, shocking things come out, but it’s the truth,” Love explained. “I did get a chance to make a lot of things right.”
The film, “20 Feet from Stardom,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary. The soundtrack nabbed Love a Grammy, also.
“Last year was a pretty good year,” she admitted.
Over the years, she’s dabbled in acting, starring as Danny Glover’s wife in four “Lethal Weapon” movies and taken star turns on Broadway in “Grease” and the short-lived revival of “Carrie.”
But, the Christmas holiday is Love’s true love. She performed her song, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) on the last episode before the holiday on David Letterman’s TV shows from 1986 until last year. And, for more than a decade, she has performed Christmas favorites to sold out halls in New York, an annual tradition for many fans.
Her latest album, “Introducing Darlene Love,” produced by Steve Van Zandt and featuring two new songs by Bruce Springsteen, was released last September.
Love is excited to be performing in South Florida: “I’ve never come before as Darlene Love,” she said, recalling previous appearances with Warwick and other singers. “I have my own band and my own back-up singers.”
She plans to perform both her classics and songs from the new album.
“I let my audiences pick,” Love explained. “We’re friends. We talk back and forth and have a great time.”
Above all, Love is certain audiences will leave and they will know her name.
Darlene Love performs Saturday, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $37.50 - $47.50 at ParkerPlayhouse.com.