Abortion, Domestic Violence & Making Music in Charlene Oliver's Memoir "I've Never Been to Me"
Charlene Oliver came on The Healthtopia Radio Show with Bonnie Mechelle to reveal the inside scoop on her life. She was the first white woman signed to Barry Gordy’s legendary Motown record label and she topped the charts with her 1982 hit “I’ve never been to me” which is the title of her memoir published in 2009.
Charlene opened up to Bonnie Mechelle about her experience of being a teen mom and giving up her baby girl, having a husband that beat on her (killed three of her dogs and slugged her horse in the mouth), being pushed to have an abortion, drug use, having Lupus and the devastation of having albums that never gained momentum and flopped in the billboard charts.
Charlene and her abusive former husband Larry, was signed to Motown after the unlikely event of an American radio disc jockey running a “which song is the best” contest between Charlene’s I’ve Never Been To Me ballot and Olivia Newton John’s song, Physical. The listeners called in with an overwhelming response in favor of Charlene’s ballot, and the next thing you know Charlene got a special call from Ron Miller when she was living in England (working in a candy shop). Ron told her that her song was a number one hit in America and she was going to be a star!
Oliver flew to Los Angeles right away and signed with Motown, only to be met with demands to sing demo’s for other Motown artist. Not to mention the blatant reverse racism she experienced being the only white artist with Motown. Seasoned singers were upset about all the time, energy and money that was going into getting Charlene’s singing career off the ground. The other Motown artist made her feel like a “lone ranger” but she did befriend the mega talented superstar Stevie Wonder and Cindy Birdsong from the Supremes. They made her feel more comfortable.
One time she was given a wonderful song to sing called “One Day in Your Life” and producers said that her voice sounded much like Michael Jackson’s voice. The song was eventually turned over to Michael Jackson to sing instead and he made it a great big hit, leaving Charlene to think, “What about me?”
She recorded a song with Stevie Wonder that never became a hit, and after a few failed albums Charlene’s career faded out of the spotlight. Her hit song “I’ve Never been to Me” was revitalized with a movie and play in Australia called Pricilla Queen of the Dessert and Shrek the Third. A few DJ’s got to the 80’s hit song and remixed as a dance track, and it became a hit gay anthem too, to Charlene’s surprise.
“Faith in God is what pulled me through the ups and down’s of my life. It’s still like being on the Goliath rollercoaster being pulled with strong forces,” said Oliver. Charlene’s memoir divulges the intricate details of her life as a mother, singer, writer and young wife of a very violent man. Visit her website for to learn more of her awesome books at www.charlenesongs.com and go to www.myhealthtopia.com to listen to Bonnie Mechelle’s fantastic interview with Charlene Oliver.
Healthtopia Radio is a Christian Health and Wellness radio show & eMagazine produced by Bonnie Mechelle on Atlanta’s WAEC Love 860 AM radio station and syndicated on several websites online. Their focus is to uplift women’s self esteem and give women exceptional encouragement to overcome obstacles like weight gain, divorce, single motherhood, unemployment and depression. Learn more at www.myhealthtopia.com.