Minnie Riperton, singer-songwriter best known for her 1975 single Lovin’ You. She was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis, but did not disclose she was terminally ill. In 1977, she became a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. She received the American Cancer Society’s Courage Award in 1978, which was presented to her at the White House by President Jimmy Carter. She was married to songwriter and music producer Richard Rudolph from 1972 until her death in 1979. They had two children: music engineer Marc Rudolph and actress/comedienne Maya Rudolph. She died at age 31 on July 12, 1979.
Riperton’s daughter, Saturday Night Live actress Maya Rudolph, was a child when Lovin’ You was recorded. According to the liner notes from Riperton’s Petals compilation CD, the melody to Lovin’ You was created as a distraction for Maya when she was a baby, so Riperton and Richard Rudolph could spend time together. Near the end of the unedited Lovin’ You, Riperton sings “Maya, Maya, Maya”; in concert, near her death, she changed this to “Maya, Maya, Ringo, Maya.” Ringo was her nickname for her son, Marc.
Lovin’ You (Live 1975)
In April 1979, Riperton released her fifth and final album, Minnie. During the recording of the album, her cancer progressed to the point that she was in a great deal of pain.”Memory Lane” was a hit from the album, and was arguably Riperton’s greatest work. It is thought that Memory Lane was her farewell to her family and to the world.
Memory Lane (1979)