Music producers Kal Marin and Bernie Lowe loved her voice but not her name.
So even though Dione LaRue was fast becoming a musical sensation, the world would soon know the singing star as DeeDee Sharp.
“My brother used to call me D for short. And since I sang in the key of D sharp, I got my new name,” she explains.
She even got her first taste of becoming a musical sensation with her recording of “The Mashed Potatoes,” and one day being named “The First Black Teen Idol.”
Later, Sharp met Chubby Checker and recorded an album together. “But Chubby didn’t like me in the beginning,” Sharp recalls. “He didn’t want any girls playing on his projects. But when he finally heard me, he changed his mind and said I was really good.”
Their friendship blossomed and has lasted all these years. Sharp will be there Sunday when the Philly Pops presents “At The Hop! A Philadelphia Story at The Birth of Rock and Roll.”
Sharp’s own story began in Philadelphia when she was 13 years old.
“I knew my mom was sick and one day I overheard my grandparents talking about her and that she’d probably never be able to work again,” Sharp says. “So I went to my grandmother and told her I’d have to get a job to help out. Well, my grandmother, who was always very supportive of me, told me I could work as long as I kept up my schoolwork.”
The talented teenager was soon able to secure a job as a background singer on sessions by such luminaries as Jackie Wilson, Frankie Avalon, Lloyd Price, Checker and others. And by 17, she was an “overnight sensation” with her “Mashed Potatoes.”
Kids everywhere were dancing to the hit — everyone except Sharp.
“I myself don’t dance much. In fact, I never could dance. My brother taught me just enough to fake it all these years,” she laughs.
One thing Sharp never faked was her love of music and what it’s meant to her after all these years. She says “I’ve always wanted to appear at the Kimmel Center and see a lot of the world. And I’ve done it all, thanks to my music.”