American disco singer, born on January 29, 1956.
Amii Stewart's father signed her up for singing and dancing lessons from the age of four, and this eventually led to a very successful career as one of the most highly regarded disco artists. Before being signed to Ariola Records, Stewart was in the touring company of the stage production Bubbling Brown Sugar, firstly in Miama, then Broadway, and eventually London's West End, where she met Barry Leng, a record producer for Hansa records. "You Really Touch My Heart" a Barry Leng/Simon May composition, produced by Leng, was Stewart's first recording. An album followed, which contained five Leng/May songs, one Leng/Morris song and three cover versions. Her first single, a disco cover version of the 1966 Eddie Floyd hit "Knock on Wood" (Floyd/Cropper), reached number one in the U.S. in April 1979, and earned her a platinum record and a Grammy Award nomination. It also reached number 6 in the U.K., and number 2 in Australia, in the same year. It was her only American pop chart hit and as a result she is considered a one hit wonder there, although she also achieved several Top 10 and Top 20 hits in the U.S. dance chart. In Europe Amii Stewart established herself as a popular performer during the disco era of the late 1970s. She had two top ten hits in the UK in 1979, first with "Knock on Wood" which reached number 6 and was certified 'Silver', and "Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven" her highest chart placing in the UK Singles Chart; a cover version of The Doors' "Light My Fire", which reached number 5. "The Letter" from Amii Stewart's second album "Paradise Bird" reached number 39 in the UK singles chart. The next single from the album; "Jealousy", was a mix of the fading out disco and the new wave hitting the dance floors, which continued her chart run in continental Europe, and although it didn't make the UK top 100, it proved very popular in European discos, but as disco began to lose popularity she branched out into other contemporary musical styles. The result was the single "My Guy"/"My Girl" with Johnny Bristol, released in 1980 on Handshake Records And Tapes of New York; Bristol's record label. Amii Stewart took the unusual step of recording the same medley again in 1985 with British bassist and singer Deon Estus. In 1983 she participated in the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, performing her hit single "Working Late Tonight". Her 1984 single, "Friends" reached number one in several European countries, and peaked at number 12 in the UK in early 1985. The follow-up single "That Loving Feeling" received good reviews but failed to make the UK Top 40. Both singles were from her album Try Love, which highlighted a new down-tempo and soulful sound. Also in 1985, a double A-sided single containing remixed versions of "Knock on Wood" and "Light My Fire" reached the UK Top 10 (#7), also topping the UK dance charts. During the late 80's and the 90s she worked with such producers and composers as Greg Walsh, Narada Michael Walden, Climie Fisher, Bolland & Bolland, Giorgio Moroder and legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. Stewart has resided in Italy since the mid 1980s, and in her adopted homeland has become a respected performer of a wide range of musical styles. In 1993 and 1994 she was one of several singers invited to perform at the Vatican before the Pope in Christmas pageants. While Amii Stewart may be mostly remembered for her 1979 hit "Knock On Wood" in her native United States, she has remained popular and commercially successful in Europe for more than three decades, having released 12 studio albums and some 50 singles, most of them in the Soul and R&B genres. In the 1998 movie 54, actress/singer Mary Griffin portrayed Amii Stewart, performing the song; Knock on Wood, at the famed discotheque: Studio 54. While performing, Griffin wore a similarly extravagant outfit that Stewart wore in the video to "Knock On Wood" back in 1979. Although it was obvious that Griffin was portraying Stewart, the credits at the end of the movie have Griffin's character listed as Disco Star. In 2000, Stewart toured Italy, playing the part of Mary Magdalene, in the revival of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The play also starred Carl Anderson, who revived his role of "Judas Iscariot" from the 1971 movie. In 2003, Stewart starred in the musical Lady Day, in the role of Billie Holiday; the musical was written and produced by her. Since 2001 Stewart has been working as a goodwill ambassador for Italian Unicef and has been involved in a large number of projects such as "Uniti per i bambini, Uniti control'AIDS" (translated as "United for the children, united against AIDS"). In 2006 Stewart and long-time friend and collaborator Ennio Morricone released 5 track single "Love Song", sung in English, Italian, French, Spanish as well as a multilingual version. All proceeds from the single went to Unicef's campaign "Check Out For Children". In May 2007 Stewart again participated in the Sanremo Music Festival, performing duet "Schiavo D'Amore" with Piero Mazzocchetti.