Amy 'Amii' Paulette Stewart (born January 29, 1956) is an American R&B/disco/dance-pop singer, dancer and actress most famous for her hit disco record "Knock on Wood". Stewart is the stepsister of actress-singer Miquel Brown and aunt to Brown's actress-singer daughter Sinitta.
Career[edit source | edit]Edit
Amy Stewart is the youngest of six children. Her father, Joseph Stewart II, signed her up for singing and dancing lessons in 1960, at the age of four. There already was an Amy Stewart registered with Actor's Equity, so she changed the spelling of her name to Amii. She began attending Howard University in Washington but soon left to work with the D.C. Repertory Dance Company, studying ballet and modern dance. Before being signed to Ariola Records, Stewart was in the touring company of the stage production Bubbling Brown Sugar in 1975, firstly in Miami, then Broadway, and eventually London's West End, where she met Barry Leng, a record producer for Hansa records. The heavy drum sounds heard on "Knock On Wood", and many other of Amii's tracks, were provided by session drummer supremo Peter Boita ( also credited as the "Drum Doctor" on many tracks ). Using a combination of Linn Drum Computers and Simmons SDS7 electronic drums, Peter developed drum sounds and synching techniques that were way ahead of anything else at that time.
At the end of 1977, "You Really Touched My Heart" a Leng/Simon May composition, produced by Leng, was Stewart's first recording. An album followed, which contained five Leng/May songs, one Leng/Morris song and three cover versions.
Her first single, a disco cover version of the 1966 Eddie Floyd hit "Knock on Wood" (Floyd/Cropper), reached number one in the U.S. in April 1979, and earned her a platinum record and a Grammy Award nomination. It also reached number 6 in the UK, and number 2 in Australia. In the same year, Amii Stewart followed up with another cover of The Doors' classic, "Light My Fire", which reached #5 in the UK, although only managed a lowly #69 in the US. She recorded it as a medley, incorporating "Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven".
Among her other successes in music recordings is the song entitled "Friends" from 1985. This song was a collaboration with the Italian composer/musician Mike Francis and was a big hit in the UK and the Philippines.
Recent times[edit source | edit]Edit
In the 1998 movie 54, actress/singer Mary Griffin portrayed Amii Stewart, performing the song Knock on Wood, at the famed discothèque Studio 54. While performing, Griffin wore a similarly extravagant outfit to that which Stewart wore in the video to "Knock On Wood" in 1979. Although it was obvious that Griffin was portraying Stewart, the credits at the end of the movie have Griffin's character listed as Disco Star.
In 2000, Stewart toured Italy, playing the part of Mary Magdalene, in the revival of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The play also starred Carl Anderson, who revived his role of "Judas Iscariot" from the 1971 movie.
Since 2001 Stewart has been working as a goodwill ambassador for Italian Unicef and has been involved in a large number of projects such as "Uniti per i bambini, Uniti contro l'AIDS" (translated as "United for the children, united against AIDS"). In 2006, she recorded the charity single "Love Song" for UNICEF in four different languages, once again returning to work with Ennio Morricone. The following year saw her return to duet with Mike Francis on the track "Nothing Can Come Between Us". In 2006 Stewart and long-time friend and collaborator Ennio Morricone released 5 track single "Love Song", sung in English, Italian, French, Spanish as well as a multilingual version. All proceeds from the single went to Unicef's campaign "Check Out For Children".
Stewart usually resides in Italy and is fluent in Italian.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
Studio albums[edit source | edit]Edit
- Knock on Wood (1979)
- Paradise Bird (1979)
- Images (1981, Europe only)
- I'm Gonna Get Your Love (1981, US only)
- Amii Stewart (1983)
- Try Love (1984)
- Amii (1986)
- Time for Fantasy (1988)
- Pearls - Amii Stewart Sings Ennio Morricone (1990)
- Magic (1992)
- Lady to Ladies (1994)
- The Men I Love (1995)
- Love Affair (1996)
- Unstoppable (1999)
- Lady Day (2004)
- Caracciolo Street - Amii Stewart (Italian/English bilingual MP3 download album) (2010)
Compilation albums[edit source | edit]Edit
- The Best of Amii Stewart (1985, includes the new duet w/ Mike Francis, "Together")
- The Hits (1985, remix album)
- All Of Me (1995)
- Knock on Wood - The Best of Amii Stewart (1996)
- The Greatest Hits (2005)
- 17 Golden Hits - (Amii Stewart) (2010)
Singles[edit source | edit]Edit
- "Knock On Wood" (1979) - #1 US Pop, #6 US R&B, #5 US Club Play, #6 UK, #13 Germany
- "Light My Fire - 137 Disco Heaven (Medley)" (1979) - #69 US Pop, #36 US R&B, #5 UK, #26 Germany
- "Jealousy" (1979) - #58 UK, #4 Italy, #5 Netherlands
- "The Letter / Paradise Bird" (1980) - #39 UK
- "My Guy - My Girl (Medley)" (duet with Johnny Bristol) (1980) - #63 US, #39 UK
- "Rocky Woman" (1981)
- "Grazie Perchè (We've Got Tonight)" (duet with Gianni Morandi) (1984) - #3 Italy
- "Friends" (duet with Mike Francis) (1984) - #46 US R&B, #12 UK, #1 Italy
- "I Gotta Have You Back" - (1984, Italy only)
- "That Loving Feeling" (1985) - #95 UK
- "Together" (duet with Mike Francis) (1985) - #9 Italy
- "Knock on Wood" / "Light My Fire" (Remix) (1985) - #7 UK
- "You Really Touch My Heart" (1985) - #89 UK
- "My Guy - My Girl (Medley)" (duet with Deon Estus) (1986) - #63 UK
- "Love Ain't No Toy" (1986) - #99 UK
- "Time Is Tight" (1986)
- "It's Fantasy" (1988) - #14 Italy
- "Don't Be So Shy" (1992)
- "Saharan dreams" (1987) Ennio morricone Secret of the sahara