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Sylvester James

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Sylvester (b. Sylvester James, September 6, 1947 in Los Angeles, California – d. December 16, 1988 in San Francisco, California) was a black disco and soul musician and gay drag performer. His grandmother was the jazz singer Julia Morgan.

Living in San Francisco in the 1960s, he performed in a musical production called Women of the Blues, then joined a short-lived group of transvestite performance artists called The Cockettes in the early '70. Famed transvestite Divine was a member of the group as well. Sylvester can be seen in the Cockettes' outrageous short film Tricia's Wedding, lampooning the wedding of President Nixon's daughter Tricia, and an eponymous 2002 documentary about the group.

After a less-than-successful stint with the Hot Band, Sylvester met his frequent collaborator Patrick Cowley in 1978. Cowley's synthesizer and Sylvester's voice proved to be a magical combination. Openly gay and often singing in falsetto, despite a rich baritone voice, Sylvester's hits included "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," "Do You Wanna Funk" and "Dance (Disco Heat)". He is considered one of the first Hi-NRG artists, and subsequent hits were backed by the Two Tons of Fun, (future) Weather Girls Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes.

1979 brought three Billboard awards and an appearance in the movie, The Rose.

Sylvester died of complications from AIDS on December 16, 1988.

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