b. 11 January 1962, England. The term house diva does not fully cover the career or capabilities of Roberts, who is in addition a proficient singer-songwriter, jazz and reggae vocalist, and a veteran of the early days of British soul. Unlike many in the field, she did not learn her craft at the church choir, having instead been brought up in the more restrained Catholic faith. However, music was still in her blood. Her father was formerly a member of the calypso band the Nightingales, and took her to various concerts. Her first performances came as a member of reggae band Black Jade, before she signed solo to Bluebird Records in 1980, a label set up by her local record shop in Paddington, north London. Two tracks, a cover version of the Police’s ‘The Bed’s Too Big Without You’ and ‘Fool For You’, emerged, while she was still engaged in her day job as a sports tutor. They were enough to attract the attention of fellow Londoners the Funk Masters. She appeared as lead singer on the band’s 1983 UK Top 10 hit, ‘It’s Over’. After a year’s sabbatical in the USA she embarked on her music career proper, and, within a week of returning to British shores, was enlisted as singer for Latin jazz band Working Week.
After leaving Working Week in 1988 Roberts signed to Cooltempo Records as a solo artist, enjoying a string of UK Top 30 singles in the mid-90s including ‘Free Love’ (1993), ‘Caught In The Middle’ (1994) and ‘I Want You’ (1994), the latter her first US chart entry. Firmly established as a house diva, but struggling to crossover into the mainstream market, Roberts bounced back on the Delirious label in January 1998 when ‘So Good’/‘Free Love 98’ reached UK number 15. Her cover version of Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls’ also broke into the UK Top 20 the following January. In the late 90s and early 00s Roberts was to be found working with reggae and jazz artists, including saxophonist Denys Baptiste and Gary Crosby’s jazz/ska ensemble Jazz Jamaica. In 2002 she recorded her second solo album, Beneath The Surface, for Crosby’s Dune label.