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Born Gloria Alleyne in New York City in 1929 (some sources say 1931), Lynne was raised with gospel music and sang in her Harlem church as a child. At 15 she won first prize at the Apollo Theater’s amateur night and soon she was singing in local groups such as the Enchanters and the Dell-Tones. She went solo in 1958 and was signed to Everest Records, with which she recorded more than 10 albums over the next five years. She also placed four singles on the Billboard R&B chart while on Everest, including “Impossible” in 1961 and “I Wish You Love” in 1964. Her highest charting single was her 1965 cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” on the Fontana label, which reached number 8 on the magazine’s R&B chart. Lynne added her own lyrics to Hancock’s melody.

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