Sad news came over the weekend. Singer Pamela Hutchinson of the legendary female R&B vocal group The Emotions has died. She was 61. The announcement was made via a post on the group’s Facebook page. At its inception, The Emotions was a family affair. Sisters Jeanette, Wanda and Sheila Hutchinson began singing publicly with their father Joe Hutchinson as The Hutchinson Sunbeams, performing gospel shows around their native Chicago. Their regional popularity garnered the attention of singer Pervis Staples of The Staple Singers and they were signed to Stax Records in 1969. Under the direction of songwriters/producers Isaac Hayes and David Porter, the group scored several hits, including “So I Can Love You” and “Show Me How.” After Stax folded, The Emotions signed with Columbia Records and began working with producer Maurice White. At this time, Jeanette took a year off to have a baby and was replaced by younger sister Pamela (who went back to school a year later but continued to work on record and in concert as the fourth Emotion). The association with Maurice White paid dividends as the group’s 1976 debut album and single “Flowers” were both R&B smashes. Their sophomore effort, “Rejoice”, was released in 1977 and brought The Emotions to the top of the pop and soul charts. The album’s first single, “Best Of My Love”, was one of the year’s biggest hits, with the Hutchinson sisters’ tight harmonies working perfectly with White’s joyous production. The follow-up single was equally strong. A beautiful ballad, “Don’t Ask My Neighbors” took The Emotions to the top of the charts and became one of the most covered songs of the next 20 years. The Emotions scored again with the single “Smile” and the album “Sunbeam.” In 1979, they collaborated with Earth, Wind & Fire on the infectious dance number “Boogie Wonderland”, which became one of the year’s biggest hits. Their next album, “Come Into Our World”, was solid but began the decline in the group’s sales (as well as White’s midas touch). In the mid 1980s the group signed to Red Label Records and then Motown, scoring the modest hits “You’re The One” and “Miss Your Love”, before briefly retiring. They regrouped in the early 90s to perform a music version of their careers titled Bigger Than Bubble Gum and releasing a live album in 1997. An excellent retrospective was released in 2016 titled “Blessed: The Emotions Anthology.” The Emotions continue to perform at small venues and private parties. During her time with her sisters Pamela Hutchinson was part of one of the greatest female groups of all time. Prayers and condolences to her family and may she rest in peace.