Yvonne Turner Helped Invent House Music—So Why Does No One Know Her Name?

by Lionel Casey

Nineteen 80-4 is regularly remembered as one of pop’s most seismic years, thank you in abundant element to Prince and Madonna. But it changed into additionally the 12 months that gave us house track. Jesse Saunders’ “On and On” is widely considered to be the first house record to come out of the clubs in Chicago. Around the same time in New York, even though Colonel Abrams’ debut unmarried, “Music Is the Answer,” signified a shift past disco and boogie toward that stripped-down, unnamed sound. The instrumental dub model on the B-facet mainly was given play on the Loft and the Paradise Garage in New York, Ron Hardy and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk in Chicago, and via Jeff Mills in Detroit, the chorus turning into an anthem. The mix became credited to Evan Turner, but it’d turn out to be his only manufacturing credit.

Or become it?

Evan Turner became Yvonne Turner, a prolific, if abridged, manufacturer, mixer, and remixer. Being erroneously credited became simply the beginning: On subsequent pressings of “Music Is the Answer,” her name became left off altogether. These types of errors and misprints make piecing together Turner’s discography mainly complicated. She was frequently relegated to the critical points, bumped to the companion or co-producer repute, marked as a mixer instead of the remixer. In dance tunes, it’s assumed that the singer is secondary to the manufacturer inside the innovative technique. However, the inverse is proper for Turner. Many male vocalists she worked with—be it Abrams, Willie Colón, or Arnold Jarvis—got credit scores for the track.

Viewed as the whole, Turner’s frame of remix and production work is ambitious. It had a long-lasting effect now not handiest at the early days of residence song—as heard inside the producers that immediately came after her, like Masters at Work, Mood II Swing, and Kerri Chandler—however also in the genre’s offshoots, together with storage song and Italian dream house. After decades of silence, Turner seeks to set the file instantly about her area in dance-track records. “If I had been a man, it wouldn’t have happened in that manner, now not being known as for paintings anymore,” she tells me. “Being a lady, that’s the way it is going. I had to kick the door back off.”

The youngest of 3, Turner was born in 1953 in Harlem; however soon moved to the South Bronx Trinity Projects, later to Hollis, Queens. She says her most vivid formative years recollections have been of “the Latin percussionists playing in the road… those heat summertime days when the community could come alive with the tune.” Turner sang in school and taught herself a few guitars. As a youngster, she discovered herself in charge of the music for her mother and stepfather’s summertime parties. By the late ’70s, she started out DJing at picnics, and boat rides across the city, even trekking out to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to play at a nightclub known as Ozone Layer. A Jamaican promoter endowed her with the nickname “Night Nurse,” a homage to the Gregory Isaacs hit.

“She knew her shit, and she had a top-notch taste,” says Arthur Baker, the producer and remixer accountable for classics like Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” and New Order’s “Thieves Like Us.” He first met Turner at Downstairs Records in Midtown, where she bought the contemporary singles and imports to Baker, Larry Levan, and the relaxation of New York’s DJ community. In 1983, Baker hired her at his label, Streetwise Records. Her first process changed into in the mailroom, but she says she usually saved abreast of what turned into happening inside the golf equipment.

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