Sheila Ferguson (born October 8, 1947, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American singer, and was one of the longest serving singers of 1970s American female soul music group The Three Degrees.
Despite attending more than 10 schools as a child, Ferguson was academically gifted and had originally wanted to become a psychologist.
However, a teenage crush on the singer Marvin Gaye led her to try her hand at singing, in the hope that by doing so, she would be able to meet him. She was to achieve this dream some time later when appearing at the Apollo Theatre, she was able to talk to Gaye in his dressing room.
While at High School, Ferguson was introduced by her teacher to Richard Barrett, who had previously been a singer with a group called The Valentines, and had later gone on to become a manager. Although Barrett signed Ferguson as a solo act, he was already in the process of creating a group called The Three Degrees, with an original line-up of Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter, and Linda Turner.
Barrett enabled Ferguson to record her first solo single, titled "Little Red Riding Hood". Ferguson was also able to record the first two songs she wrote herself, "I Weep For You" and "Don't Leave Me Lover".
The Three Degrees:
The Three Degrees had by now changed their members to include Fayette Pinkney, Helen Scott and Janet Harmon. However, Scott announced she would be leaving the group in order to get married. Ferguson had previously appeared with the group as cover for one of the girls when ill, and was asked by Pinkney and Harmon to become a permanent member.
Shortly after, in 1968, Harmon left the group and was replaced by Valerie Holiday.
The Three Degrees enjoyed significant success when signed by a record company called Philadelphia International Records.
Under this label the group began to tour internationally. Under the Philadelphia International Records label, the self-titled The Three Degrees released in 1973, and yielded hits such as "Year of Decision" and "Dirty Ol' Man". However, it was undeniably the subsequent release of "When Will I See You Again" that ensured international recognition, and the song became number 1 in the UK charts. Following an appearance on Top of the Pops, other countries followed suit and "When Will I See You Again" did extremely well worldwide.
Solo singing career:
In 1994, Ferguson appeared as a solo artist in the UK Singles Chart, with her remake of her Three Degrees' hit, "When Will I See You Again". It spent one week in that listing at #60. In 2004, she released her debut solo album, New Kind of Medicine. In 2007, Ferguson toured alongside Marti Webb and Rula Lenska in a musical based on the menopause called Hot Flush, plus she also recorded a new song, "Fool of the Year", for the album Disco 2008, produced by Ian Levine.
In 1989, Ferguson published a cook book inspired by recipes from her American background, Soul Food: Classic Cuisine from the Deep South.
Ferguson is currently writing her autobiography.
TV and other acting appearances:
Ferguson has appeared extensively in theatre, including the musicals Soul Train and Always, which also starred Shani Wallis, at the Victoria Palace, London. She appeared three times on the TV show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, three times as a panelist and once dressed as a pirate in the celebrity line up. She was a panelist in Les Dawson's first hosting of the quiz show Blankety Blank in 1984. In 2004, she was a contestant on the fourth British series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
She appeared in an episode of the British sit-com Desmond's, playing nightclub owner Rochelle Jackson.
She played the lead role Gloria Hepburn in the UK TV sitcom Land of Hope and Gloria, which ran for six episodes in 1992. The first episode aired on 24 June and the sixth on 29 July. A second series was planned but the idea shelved after the death of co-star Joan Sanderson.
In 2010 Ferguson joined the cast of the Irish National Tour of Fame the Musical playing strict head teacher "Miss Sherman".
In May 2011 Ferguson starred in the second series of Channel 4s Celebrity Five Go To in which the celebrities visited South Africa.
On April 11, 2012, Ferguson co-hosted Newcastle-based charity, Toma Fund's, Eurovision Reunited event alongside Christopher Biggins. The event also featured internationally known acts including Brotherhood of Man and Anne-Marie David.
From December 2012 to January 2013 Ferguson appeared in the Cinderella pantomime at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham as the Fairy Godmother.
In August 2013, Ferguson announced she would be playing the role of Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, at the Theatre Royal Norwich, from 17 December 2013 to 19 January 2014.
Ferguson is a patron of the theatre charity The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America.
Ferguson settled in Bray, Berkshire (England, UK) after marrying property businessman Chris Robinson in 1980. They divorced in 2000 and have twin daughters, Alicia Robinson and Alexandria Robinson.
Ferguson now resides on the island of Mallorca.