Vicki Sue Robinson (May 31, 1954 – April 27, 2000) was an American theatre and film actress and singer, closely associated with the disco era of late 1970s pop music; she is most famous for her 1976 hit, “Turn the Beat Around.”
Born in Harlem, New York, to African American Shakespearean actor Bill Robinson and his European American wife Marianne, a folk singer, Vicki Sue Robinson was reared in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for most of her early years, returning with her family to New York City when she was 10. She had given her first public performance in 1960 at the age of six, when she accompanied her mother on stage at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Ten years later, at the age of 16, while a student at the New Lincoln School, Robinson made her professional performing debut when she joined the Broadway cast of the musical Hair. Robinson remained with Hair for six weeks before moving to a new Broadway production, Soon, whose cast included Peter Allen, Barry Bostwick, Nell Carter and Richard Gere.
After the show’s short run, Robinson appeared in the Off-Broadway play Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone, in which she and Richard Gere played Mimi and Richard Fariña. New York magazine opined that Robinson “sings with gentle power, accompanying herself on guitar and dulcimer, and moves with astounding confidence.”
Robinson also had bit parts in the films Going Home (1971) and To Find A Man (1972). After a sojourn in Japan Robinson returned to Broadway in 1973, joining the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Robinson made her recording debut as one of several Hair veterans invited to sing background on Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything? album released in 1972. In 1973 she spent time in Japan with Itsuro Shimoda, with whom she did session work on his album Love Songs and Lamentations and toured nationally.
In 2011, Gold Legion.com digitally remastered and reissued Robinson’s four albums for RCA Records on CD along with bonus tracks and liner notes.