Born in Harlem, New York, Vicki Sue Robinson was the daughter of a white radical folk singer and a black Shakespearean actor. Vicki Sue clarified, "My mother's white and my father's black. I'm a Gemini." In the North American summer of 1976, Vicki Sue "turned the disco and pop music world upside down" with the song 'Turn The Beat Around' (said to mean "start a drum pattern over") written by keyboard session players Peter and Gerold Jackson.
'Turn The Beat Around' won Vicki Sue a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal. It was understood before Christmas 1975, "Two friends of mine from a group called 'A Touch of Class' - Peter and Joe Jackson - gave it ('Turn The Beat Around') to me on a demo. And I elected to do it. Yes, I wanted it to be successful, naturally, but I didn't expect it to be."
In an interview conducted at 11.00am one June morning back in 1976, the then 21-year-old Vicki Sue voiced, "My mother was a folk singer. At the age of 7, I performed at the first Philadelphia Folk Festival - I think I sang 'My Home's Across The Smokey Mountain' with my mother. I guess I knew I always wanted to perform. Sing or act. Influences? Laura Nyro, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Sarah Vaughn - my mother used to play her records a lot.
"In Japan, I did an album for Polydor called 'Love Songs and Lamentations'. Some of it was in Japanese. But it was interesting working there. The Japanese love foreign performers and although they're kinda stiff in their way of showing appreciation, they dig whatever you do. I also did some modeling whilst I was there and when things began to slow down, I came back (to the U.S.).
"I don't want people to label me as a disco singer though. That first album made its point. I enjoyed making it very much, it gave me a chance to be creative. But there's a lot more happening inside me. I want to develop more as far as capturing a listening audience is concerned. I want people to realize that I can sing. But performing, that's what I really enjoy.
"I want to do that - do television, go to Europe, have my songs known, become a recognized songwriter. Like we were in Boston recently (back in 1976) and a whole mixture of people turned out. Black, white, gay, straight, everything. I'm being marketed both in pop and soul. But I didn't consciously sit down to try and sound black and I can sound different depending on my audiences, on how I feel, on the material I'm singing."
In the November 1994 edition of 'Billboard', Gloria Estefan told Peter Cronin, "I can go through my life with songs, and this whole album ('Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me') is kind of like the soundtrack of my life. When I first heard 'Turn The Beat Around', I'd been in the (Miami Sound Machine) for about a year, I guess. They were called the Latin Boys back then, and we played lots of covers because we didn't have material of our own.
"I remember hearing 'Turn The Beat Around' and right away thinking it was something we could do. It's very much my style, and pretty close to the sound of the band. With the horns and the rhythm, it's like something we would do. We used to play 'I Will Survive', 'Turn The Beat', and a lot of those early disco songs. We didn’t really record songs that sounded disco, but we certainly enjoyed playing it.
"Our music, especially our original stuff, was more like pop with a lot of very heavy Latin percussion. But elements of (disco) – the energy, the horn arrangements – always got into our dance music. I remember way back, we were going to participate in a 'Red Hot + Disco' or something like that, and the first song that came to my mind was 'Turn The Beat'. Even then I was thinking, if I get a chance to do a cover someday, that should be the one."