Words by Jesse Serwer—
Lillian Lopez of Odyssey, known for her rich, earthy lead vocals on that group’s respective disco and R&B singles “Native New Yorker” and “Inside Out,” died at 76 earlier this week, after an extended illness. Lopez and her sisters Louise and Carmen Lopez, with whom she first formed the group along with Filipino singer Tony Reynolds, were raised in Connecticut but originally hailed from the Virgin Islands. Though generally labeled as disco, a listen to their 1977 debut album reveals a distinct Caribbean influence, notably on the track “Easy Come, Easy Go/Hold De Mota Down.” And, oh yeah, that’s the song Nottz sampled for the original version of Busta Rhymes” “Pass the Courvoisier.”
Odyssey had much greater success in England—even with “Native New Yorker—and ultimately relocated to London, where it had further hits including a cover of Lamont Dozier’s “Going Back To My Roots.” I learned a few years ago of Lopez’ own V.I. roots while trying to get the backstory on “Inside Out,” the haunting Slave-produced song with a rhythm track nearly identical to that Ohio band’s “Watching You,’ but was never able to ascertain which Virgin Island she hailed from. Does anyone know?
Props to the Media Assassin Harry Allen for the heads up, on Ms. Lopez’s passing.