Straight Ahead | Body & Soul
An all-female quartet/quintet whose most prominent graduate was violinist Regina Carter, Straight Ahead performed music that ranged from bop to poppish, modern jazz to R&B and fusion. The group came together in Detroit in 1987. Comprised of lead singer Cynthia Dewberry (who also played flute), violinist Carter, keyboardist Eileen Orr, bassist Marion Hayden-Banfield, and drummer Gayelynn McKinney (all of the musicians also sang), Straight Ahead was a finalist in the 1989 Sony Innovators competition. The following year they opened for Nina Simone at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In the '90s Straight Ahead recorded three albums for Atlantic; Carter left before the final one and the group had become less active by the late '90s.