R.I.P. Angela Bofill

Angela Bofill Washington, D.C. September 12, 1996

Singer Angela Bofill died June 13th aged 70 at her daughter’s home in Vallejo, California. The announcement was made on her Facebook page by her manager Rich Engel and no cause of death was listed. Bofill was born in  Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in a Bronx household with parents who had sung with Afro-Cuban jazz great Machito. The exposure to Latin music and soul shaped her versatility as an artist. As a teenager, she sang in New York City’s All City Chorus of top singers from the five boroughs’ high schools.  She graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a bachelor’s degree in music and started her career in the late ’70s with GRP Records. Her 1978 debut album, Angie, introduced the world to her 3 1/2 octaves of uniquely rich and soulful vocals. Her cover of “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” was her first single and it was an R&B hit. Angel Of The Night was her second album and “I Try” which she composed as a teenager, charted and became one of her signature songs. “What I Wouldn’t Do (For The Love Of You)” was another hit song from this album. The Cuban-Puerto Rican singer was one of the first Latinas to have a fanbase from R&B and jazz audiences. Clive Davis signed Bofill to Arista and during this time “Tonight I Give In,” “Too Tough,” “Let Me Be The One” and “I’m On You Side” were some of her commercial singles. Narada Michael Walden, The System, George Duke, and Denny Diante produced her albums for Arista. The record company never knew how to market her but she still found her audience and critical acclaim. 

Bofill’s most consistent radio presence came from jazz outlets and Quiet Storm shows where album cuts like “Under the Moon and Over the Sky” “The Feelins Love,” and “Rough Times” were played in addition to “I Try.” She recorded five albums for Arista before going to Capitol Records and releasing the Norman Connors-produced Intuition in 1988. I Wanna Love Somebody came out on Jive and her last album Love In Slow Motion was a Shanachie release. In the early 2000s, she did backup vocals for Diana Ross and Kirk Whalum. She also appeared in the stage plays God Don’t Like Ugly and What a Man Wants, What a Man Needs. In 2006 Bofill had a stroke and in 2007 she had another one. In 2011 she returned to the stage with The Angela Bofill Experience, narrating her life story as Maysa Leak, Melba Moore, and Phil Perry performed her music. TV One made her the subject of an episode of Unsung in 2012. Nas, Big Sean, and Rick Ross are some of the artists who have sampled Bofill’s music. Will Downing covered “I Try” for his 1991 album A Dream Fulfilled. Bofill was inducted into the Women Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2023.