Regina Belle emerged as a prolific, consistently engaging vocalist on the urban contemporary scene. Born in New Jersey, Belle’s early experience was in gospel, though she was also attracted to R&B during her childhood. She studied trombone, tuba, and steel drums, and at 12 won a school contest singing the Emotions’ “Don’t Ask My Neighbors.”
Belle sang in a New Jersey vocal group, and studied opera and jazz in college. New York disc jockey Vaughn Harper introduced her to the Manhattans, and she began working as their opening act. Belle recorded a duet with them, “Where Did We Go Wrong,” that was produced by Bobby Womack in 1986. She earned a solo Columbia contract in 1987, and the single “Please Be Mine” earned both praise and a number two R&B hit. A follow-up single, “So Many Tears,” also made the R&B Top 20, and the hit “Without You,” pairing her with Peabo Bryson, was the only memorable thing about the film Leonard, Part 6.
Her second LP, Stay with Me, secured her success, and she went on to earn more acclaim. Releasing Passion in 1993, she returned five years later with Believe in Me, which was followed by 2001’s This Is Regina! and 2004’s Lazy Afternoon. Belle returned to her gospel roots for 2008’s Love Forever Shines, and had just begun a career shift to gospel when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009. She underwent difficult and lengthy treatment, but recovered her health and released a second gospel album, Higher, in 2012. In 2015, Belle returned with her tenth studio album, The Day Life Began. Produced by Jamie Jones and Jack Kugell, aka the Heavy Weights, the album included the spotlight tracks “He’s Alright,” “You Saw the Good in Me,” and “Be Careful Out There.”