Hi, The Chantels were one of the biggest female groups of the late 1950’s. They are from the Bronx, New York. Members included, Arlene Smith, Sonia Goring, Rene Minus, Jackie Landry and Lois Harris. The group formed in the early ’50s and took their name from a rival school, St. Frances de Chantal. They attended St. Anthony of Padua school in the Bronx. They were discovered by Richard Barrett, lead singer of The Valentines and later signed to End Records.
The Chantels first single became a Billboard Top 100 hit on September 30, 1957 when “HE’S GONE” made its chart debut. The record climbed the chart to #71. Their second record became over the years one of the all time doo-wop classics. “MAYBE” charted in January of 1958 and climbed up the Top 100 to #15 with a run of 18 weeks on the pop chart. There was no surprise when it crossed over to the R&B chart and just missed the top spot, settling at #2. “Maybe” sold over a million copies and The Chantels were awarded a “Gold Record”.
In March of 1958 the next hit by the group found chart success. “EVERY NIGHT (I Pray) became a Top 40 hit as it reached #39. It was followed by “I LOVE YOU SO”, in June. The Chantels latest hit just missed the Top 40, peaking at #42. “I Love You So” would be the groups last chart record on the End label. Arlene Smith, lead singer left for a solo career in ’59 and was replaced by Annette Smith (no relation). Louis Harris also left the group to pursue a college education.
In August of 1961, now recording for Gone Records, The Chantels charted their second biggest record, “LOOK IN MY EYES”. The record became a big hit on its way to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. They crossed over to the R&B chart where they had the #6 record. The groups last big hit was an answer song to Ray Charles, “Hit The Road Jack”. The Chantels hit “WELL, I TOLD YOU”, entered the Hot 100 on November 13, 1961, and peaked at #29. Only one more Hot 100 hit for the group awaited. In March of 1963, “ETERNALLY” on Ludix Records entered the chart. It remained on the Hot 100 for 2 weeks and peaked at #77.
Arlene Smith fronted a new Chantels group in the 1970’s which featured the up and coming Disco star, Carol Douglas. Arlene Smith reunited with the surviving original members of The Chantels for the PBS special Doo-Wop 50 in 1999. They sang their classic hit “Maybe” and dedicated the song to Jackie Landry, who died of cancer in December of 1997 at the age of 56. In 2002 The Chantels were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame. They have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but have yet received the votes for induction. Anyone who grew up in the 1950’s is aware of the great music these very talented women gave us. There great hits live on and “MAYBE” someday they will enjoy a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Doo-wop, pop and R&B at its best that spells, “THE CHANTELS”.