The Emotions Singer Pamela Hutchinson Dies at 61

the emotions
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Wanda Hutchinson, Pamela Hutchinson and Sheila Hutchinson of The Emotions photographed in New York on Sept. 6, 1977.

The singer was best known for 1977's "Best of My Love."

Pamela Hutchinson, a singer in the 1970s R&B trio the Emotions has died at 61.

A statement on the group's Facebook page announced that Hutchinson passed away on Friday following "health challenges she'd been battling for several years."

"Now our beautiful sister will sing amongst the angels in heaven in perfect peace," it continued. "During this time, the family kindly asks for fans and friends to respect our privacy. We appreciate all kind words, photos, and videos you may want to post for our beloved Pamela and of course your loving prayers. A life so beautifully lived deserves to be beautifully remembered. We love you, Pamela!Thank you and as always, You Got The Best of Our Love."

Chicago-based soul/R&B trio the Emotions began as gospel group the Hutchinson Sunbeams comprised of sisters Pamela, Wanda and Jeanette, with Pamela joining the renamed act in the mid-1970s just as the family band began a fruitful creative collaboration with late Earth, Wind & Fire singer Maurice White. Their 1977 Columbia Records debut, Rejoice, contained their biggest hit, the Billboard Hot 100 disco soul smash, "Best of My Love," which spent five weeks at No. 1 in the summer of 1977; the song also won a Grammy award for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals.

That irresistible dance bop, and several other Emotions tracks, have had a long second life, via samples on songs by De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Killer Mike and many more. The partnership with White continued when the Emotions provided vocals for EW&F's 1979 disco hit "Boogie Wonderland." A follow-up 1978 album, Sunbeam, featured the top 10 R&B chart hit "Smile," with four subsequent albums (Come Into Our World, New Affair, Sincerely and If I Only Knew) failing to produce notable chart hits.

Born in 1958 in Chicago, Hutchinson was called up to replace her sister Jeanette, just as the group moved from Stax Records -- where they'd scored hits with the songs "So I Can Love You" and "Show Me How" -- and began a successful run on Columbia.

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See the group's tribute and listen to "Best of My Love" below.