Hot was a vocal trio from Los Angeles, California, United States, formed in 1976. Its original members were Gwen Owens (born 19 June 1953), Cathy Carson (born 8 October 1953) and Juanita Curiel (born 25 February 1953). In 1987, Hot was reborn with former members Owens and Carson and new member Sandra Starks.
The lead singer Gwen Owens was a native of Detroit where she had begun singing in church and, after being discovered at a high school talent show, recorded for local record labels from the mid-1960s. In 1969 a track she recorded, "Keep on Living," was picked up by Josie Records and reached #40 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles Chart. Owens also performed in local concerts mostly headlined by Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, the Originals, and Edwin Starr; she also performed with Al Green.
Relocating to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, Owens began a session singing career backing David Axelrod, Randy Brown, Stanley Clarke, Randy Crawford, Coke Escovedo, Willie Hutch, Billy Preston, and Al Wilson; she provided live support for Ann-Margret, Jose Feliciano, the O'Jays, Lou Rawls, Nancy Sinatra and Raquel Welch. In 1972, Owens was signed to a production contract with Muscle Shoals Sound Studio session men Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford, who recorded Owens at Muscle Shoals as the inaugural artist for a projected southern division of Motown Records. Ultimately Motown decided not to proceed with "Motown South," dropping Owens. Her five completed Muscle Shoals tracks were shopped to other labels, with the newly formed Casablanca Records picking up the tracks "You Better Watch Out" and "Everybody Needs Love" for release in 1973; the same single was re-issued in 1974 on Warner Bros. Records - then a Casablanca affiliate - without commercial success.
In 1975, Owens and Cathy Carson, a native of Kansas, began performing in a trio completed by a Mexican singer; this outfit toured with the Wolfman Jack Shock & Rock Review under the name Sweet Talk and, in 1976, appeared on television on The Diahann Carroll Show and Cos, billed on the latter show as Sugar & Spice. Owens was still signed with Ivey and Woodford but, as Motown was not interested in Owens, Ivey and Woodford were unable to record her until after ending their affiliation with the label in 1976. At this point, Ivey and Woodford opened their own Muscle Shoals recording facility, Wishbone Studios, where Owens, Carson, and the newly recruited Juanita Curiel began work on an album as Hot. The Mexican-born Curiel, who had grown up in Nevada and spent three years as a singer/dancer in Wayne Newton's Vegas show, replaced the original third member of the trio, who had opted out of the group. Ivey was the keyboardist and Mac McAnally played guitar.
"Angel in Your Arms" - which Ivey and Woodford had written with local songwriter Tommy Brasfield - was given to the group to record after Gwen Owens asked if they could record a C&W song. Picked up by Big Tree Records for release, "Angel in Your Arms" broke in Florida in February 1977, debuting that month on the Billboard Hot 100 at #97, gradually accruing sufficient airplay to enter the Pop Top 40 that April and proceed to number 6 that July. The track also charted R&B (#29) and Easy Listening (#9). Certified a RIAA certification gold record for U.S. sales of one million units, "Angel in Your Arms" was also a hit for Hot in Australia (#27), Canada (#3), and New Zealand (#7).
Although Hot's membership: the African-American Owens, the white Carson and the Hispanic Curiel, had assembled on the assumption that this multiracial personnel would attract attention, the group received little noticeable promotion, beyond their million selling single "Angel in Your Arms". The single's success did briefly boost its parent album Hot on to the charts with a #125 peak, and two other tracks released as singles appeared in the lower half of the Hot 100: "Right Feeling at the Wrong Time" and "You Brought the Woman Out of Me" (the latter a minor hit for Evie Sands in 1975).
Hot had two more album releases, both recorded at Wishbone Studios with Ivey and Woodford producing, before Big Tree Records was closed by its parent company Atlantic Records in 1980. Woodford & Ivey also produced a solo single by Owens: "I Don't Want to Dance No More / Hold Me Like You Never Had Me", released on Big Tree in 1979.
In 1980, Owens, Carson, and Curiel starred in a B-movie about a female vocal group alternately known as 'Makin It', 'Runnin' Hot' and 'Smokey and the Judge'.
In 1982, Boardwalk Records released the single "Tonight" credited to Hot; of the original lineup, only Curiel's participation can be verified.
In the late 80's, Owens met Sandra Starks when they toured with legendary vocalist, Lou Rawls. Owens, Curiel and Starks, under new management, entered into separate negotiations with both Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire) and Barry White who were interested in producing the group.
After returning to session work, Owens retired as a professional musician but remained active singing in her local church in the San Fernando Valley; in 1999 she and three fellow choir members formed the group Melodious who had the CD Ephesian 5:19 released in 2004. In 2008, Owens was reported to be employed in the music industry in a non-performing capacity working for HDH Records.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license