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Straight Ahead

An all-female quartet/quintet whose most prominent graduate was violinist Regina Carter, Direct Ahead performed music that ranged from bop to poppish, contemporary jazz to R&B and fusion. The group emerged jointly in Detroit in 1987. Made up of business lead vocalist Cynthia Dewberry (who also performed flute), violinist Carter, keyboardist Eileen Orr, bassist Marion Hayden-Banfield, and drummer Gayelynn McKinney (every one of the music artists also sang), Direct Forward was a finalist within the 1989 Sony Innovators competition. The next year they opened up for Nina Simone on the Montreux Jazz Festival. Within the ’90s Right Ahead documented three albums for Atlantic; Carter still left before the last one as well as the group acquired become less energetic by the past due ’90s.

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