Quiet Elegance formed in Detroit, MI, with seasoned soul singers Yvonne "Frankie" Gearing, Mildred Vaney, and Lois Reeves. Vaney (aka Mildred Scott) sang with the Glories and Cut Glass with Orthea Barnes (J.J. Barnes' sister) after Quiet Elegance. Reeves replaced Betty Kelly in her sister's group, Martha & the Vandellas, in 1968 and remained until Martha disbanded the group to seek a solo career in 1972. Gearing (the lead singer and catalyst) had sung with the Glories, the Laddins, and the Steinway's; born in Daytona Beach, FL, she grew up in St. Petersburg, FL. Her brother is the late guitarist Johnny Starr, who went on the road with Jackie Wilson's band when he was 13 and later played in Little Richard's band alongside Jimi Hendrix.
They were managed by the Temptations; (Gearing was engaged to Dennis Edwards). Signed to Hi Records, they were produced by Willie Mitchell and Dan Greer and recorded for Mitchell's Hi Records in Memphis, TN. Mitchell recorded them singing mostly Al Green songs; the results were ultra soulful -- no girl group cloying -- especially "Have You Been Making Out O.K.," but the Temptations didn't want them sounding like female Al Greens, so Greer was brought in to give them a different sound.
None of Quiet Elegance's seven Hi singles did much except anchor on the lower rungs of Billboard's R&B chart. Hi strung the 45s out over a five-year period -- from 1972 to 1977 -- and dropped an LP, but they never really surfaced as recording artists. The performing side, however, was roses. Quiet Elegance toured the world many times with Al Green, the Temptations, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Tom Jones.
They disbanded after the Hi contract ran its course. Vaney-Scott and Reeves returned to Detroit. Reeves still gigs occasionally as a Vandella, but mostly works at her full-time day job. After a couple releases with Cut Glass in 1980 for 20th Century Fox Records, Vaney has been quiet. Gearing, however, has stayed active; she cut solo recordings on Beale Street Records before returning to St. Petersburg in 1978 to care for her ailing grandmother and mom and has been an entertaining staple there every since, appearing in nightclubs, concerts, and plays (i.e., The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, where she played Miss Mona's maid and delivered a sassy rendition of "24 Hours of Lovin'").
Like spring flowers, Quiet Elegance's recordings are popping up all over the place, including on CDs: Complete Quiet Elegance on Hi/Demon Records and You've Got My Mind Messed Up (Hi Records); as well as tracks on the What's the Question compilations. ~ Andrew Hamilton, Rovi