*This is a re-upload of essay #9 from Nov. 2017, the 70th anniversary of Minnie Riperton’s birth.
Like most people, my introduction to Minnie Riperton was her timeless acoustic classic “Lovin’ You,” one of many songs she wrote with her husband Richard Rudolph. And, yes, that now famous high C impressed the hell out of me and made her stand out, especially as an adolescent in the age of Mariah Carey and every other Black female singer of the time who used that high note in the most gimmicky of ways in every R&B song. But I’d soon get familiar with the originator, the one who knew how to best use her operatic training in meaningful ways outside of opera.
But as I became more familiar and grew ever more enchanted with everything about Minnie, I realized something essential that must be said about her legacy: she was so much more than that high note. She was so much more than an R&B diva although it was fair to count her among the best. And unfortunately, she left us far too soon.