Jaki Graham was born in Birmingham. She originally sang in a band called Ferrari, and then went on to the band Medium Wave, before becoming a backing vocalist for UB40. She appeared on their version of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” as well as UB40’s own “Sing Our Own Song” (1986). She was also in a band called White Lines with former Bakerloo and Little Acre sax player George Northall in 1977.
She went on to achieve notable solo chart success in 1985, including two singles in which she duetted with the former Linx vocalist David Grant. The first, a cover of “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” reached #5, and the duo had a second hit the same year with the song “Mated” which reached #20.
Graham also had several hits by herself, including “Round and Around” (#9), “Set Me Free” (#7), “Step Right Up” (#15) and “Breaking Away” (#16).
Graham also continued to work as a backing vocalist, and in 1990 she provided backing vocals on Kim Wilde’s, “I Can’t Say Goodbye”. In 1993 she also provided vocals for “Dreams” and “Jack & Jill”, two singles released by the dance music outfit, ‘Essence’.
Despite her star status in the UK, Graham’s success in the United States failed to cross over from the dance/club audiences, though she scored a number one hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1994, with her cover version of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”.
In 1986, Les “Mix Doctor’ Adams supplied this Megamix of three of Jaki’s biggest hits, Set Me Free, The Closest One and Step Right Up.
Step Right Up 4:01
The Closest One (Duet With Derek Bramble) 4:37