Back in the day I was a massive fan of urban music: rap; ragga; jungle; hip hop; swing beat; rnb… But as any kid growing up in the 1990s will tell you, one of the most popular musical genres was dance. Dance music was absolutely everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. I wouldn’t say I was a massive fan of dance but I certainly didn’t mind it and there were some pretty good tracks out at the time. I’d go as far as to say that this genre of music has had quite an impact on me as I do equate dance with growing up in the nineties. I just have to hear a song I haven’t heard in years and it brings back awesome memories of my teen years: watching Top Of The Pops with my family; listening to the UK Chart Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon; collecting the lyrics of the numerous dance songs – among others – in Smash Hits magazine; hanging out with my friends; choreographing steps to go along with the videos on MTV; parties; secondary school; GCSEs; sixth form… until now, I had no idea that dance featured so heavily in the soundtrack to my youth.
Until a few hours ago, that is, when I heard about the sad passing of singer Diane Charlemagne who was a major part of Urban Cookie Collective. The Manchester-born vocalist lost her brave battle with cancer yesterday at the age of fifty one. Diane was a big name on the dance scene and over the years, aside from working with Urban Cookie Collective, collaborated with a whole host of artists, such as Moby, D:Ream, Goldie and 52nd Street among many others. The music world is understandably deeply saddened by Diane’s death and tributes have poured in from artists including Beverley Knight, Goldie, and Moby.
One of Urban Cookie Collective’s most famous songs to which Diane lent her fantastically distinctive vocals, apart from Feels Like Heaven, is the anthemic The Key The Secret from 1993. I remember this so well and have memories of my younger sister singing and dancing to this whenever it came on. Diane vocals featured on tracks at a time when many of my peers were starting to explore clubland and get a taste of growing up and independence. The Key The Secret is as popular today as it was more than twenty years ago. A real club classic.
This amazingly talented lady will live in in her music. Rest in peace, Diane.