Tag Archives: You Make Me Feel

Library of Congress' National Registry Selects Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel" For Preservation.

#PRIDE2022 – “You Make Me Feel” by Sylvester – Biography and Videos

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Sylvester James, Jr. better known as just Sylvester, was an openly gay disco and soul singer-songwriter. Known for his flamboyant appearance Sylvester was responsible for a string of hit singles in the late 1970’s and became known in the United States under the moniker of the “Queen of Disco.”

Born in Watts, Los Angeles on September 6, 1947, Sylvester developed a love of singing through the gospel choirs of his Pentecostal church. Leaving the congregation after being persecuted for his homosexuality, he was an early founder of a group of black cross-dressers and trans women known as The Disquotays, who disbanded in 1970. Moving to San Francisco, he embraced the counterculture and joined drag troupe The Cockettes, eventually producing solo shows heavily influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker. During their critically panned tour of New York City, Sylvester left the Cockettes to focus on his solo career.

Fronting Sylvester and his Hot Band, he released two commercially unsuccessful albums on Blue Thumb Records in 1973. Gaining new backing singers in the form ofTwo Tons O’ Fun and Jeanie Tracy, he obtained a recording contract with Harvey Fuqua of Fantasy Records. His first solo album, Sylvester (1977), was a moderate success, and was followed by acclaimed disco album Step II (1978), which spawned the hit singles “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat).” He recorded four more albums, including a live album, with Fantasy Records before signing to Megatone Records, the dance-oriented label founded by friend and collaborator Patrick Cowley, where he recorded four more albums, including the Cowley penned and produced hit Hi-NRG track “Do Ya Wanna Funk. (1982)”

An activist who campaigned against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Sylvester died from complications arising from the virus in 1988.

On September 20, 2004, Sylvester’s anthem record, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. A year later, on September 19, 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist.

Shortly before his death Sylvester had bequeathed all his future royalties of his music to local AIDS groups, but Sylvester died deeply in debt there was no money to distribute until the late 1990’s. Once his advances were repaid, his early-career label Fantasy Records then kept the money in an account until its proper recipient could be legally determined.

But finally in 2010 after all of Sylvester’s debts were paid The AIDS Emergency Fund and Project Open Hand split a check from Sylvester’s estate totaling nearly $140,000.

The royalty money is still being disbursed to AIDS groups today.

Library of Congress' National Registry Selects Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel" For Preservation.

Library of Congress’ National Registry Selects Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel” For Recording Registry Preservation

Via The Washington Post:

This year’s inductees for the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry include a speech from Sen. Robert Kennedy, the educational music of “Schoolhouse Rock!,” Jay-Z’s seminal album “The Blueprint,” soul, pop and disco songs that became anthems for underrepresented groups, and a number of other unique recordings. Every year, the registry preserves 25 “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” American recordings that are at least 10 years old.

Some of the recordings, such as Sylvester’s 1978 disco hit “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 debut album “She’s So Unusual,” signaled a more mainstream acceptance of the LGBT community. Sylvester’s song, which according to the Library of Congress “reflected his childhood background in both African-American gospel music and his work as a drag performer in San Francisco,” has become an enduring LGBT anthem.


Here’s the full list of this year’s inductees:

  • Yiddish Cylinders  (c. 1901-1905)
  • “Memphis Blues” (single), Victor Military Band (1914)
  • Melville Jacobs Collection of Native Americans (1929-1939)
  • “Minnie the Moocher” (single), Cab Calloway (1931)
  • “Bach Six Cello Suites” (album), Pablo Casals (c. 1939)
  • “They Look Like Men of War” (single), Deep River Boys (1941)
  • “Gunsmoke” — Episode: “The Cabin” (Dec. 27, 1952)
  • Ruth Draper: Complete monologues, Ruth Draper (1954-1956)
  • “La Bamba” (single), Ritchie Valens (1958)
  • “Long Black Veil” (single), Lefty Frizzell (1959)
  • “Stan Freberg: The Early Years” (album), Stan Freberg (1961)
  • “GO” (album), Dexter Gordon (1962)
  • “War Requiem” (album), Benjamin Britten (1963)
  • “Mississippi Goddam” (single), Nina Simone (1964)
  • “Soul Man” (single), Sam & Dave (1967)
  • “Hair” (original Broadway cast recording) (1968)
  • Speech on the Death of MLK, Robert F. Kennedy (April 4, 1968)
  • “Sweet Caroline” (single), Neil Diamond (1969)
  • “Superfly” (album), Curtis Mayfield (1972)
  • “Ola Belle Reed” (album), Ola Belle Reed (1973)
  • “September” (single), Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)
  • “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” (single), Sylvester (1978)
  • “She’s So Unusual” (album), Cyndi Lauper (1983)
  • “Schoolhouse Rock!: The Box Set” (1996)
  • “The Blueprint” (album), Jay-Z (2001)