#37: Hands Up by Sway

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CKOC
Peak Month: February 1988
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ #24
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube: “Hands Up
Lyrics: “Hands Up

Sharon Lee Williams, Vivienne Williams & Colina Philips formed Sway around 1987. Sharon Lee Williams website states, “She grew up in Montreal as a foster child. During her turbulent adolescent years she looked to acting as her means of escape.” She studied piano with Daisy Sweeney, Oscar Perterson’s sister. Sharon Lee Williams released her first single in 1971 titled “Loving & Laughing”. From 1975 to 1980, she fronted the Montreal funk/soul band Basic Black and Pearl. In 1976, Williams was a member of the Hollywood Vampires, named by Alice Cooper for the musicians working on his album Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. And in 1985, Williams teamed up with Shawne Jackson to record “Images (Theme from “Yuppies” The Musical)”. She was also one of the members of the Northern Lights ensemble who came together in 1985 to record the chart-topping famine relief single “Tears Are Not Enough”.

Colina Phillips was a member of the funk/soul girl group, The Tiaras, from 1965 to 1969. The Tiaras backed Pat Hervey on a single in 1966. In 1968, Colina Phillips was the lead singer on The Tiaras single “Where Does All The Time Go”. She moved on to join the Laurie Bowers Singers around 1971. Over the years Phillips has been in the recording studio with Bryan Adams, Ray Charles, Bruce Cockburn, Chris DeBurgh, Celine Dion, Ronnie Hawkins, Justin Hines, Tommy Hunter, Marc Jordan, Chaka Khan, Anne Murray, Bob & Doug McKenzie, Justin Nozuka, Ronnie Prophet and Triumph. Along with Sharon Lee Williams, Philips was a member of The Hollywood Vampires, backing Alice Cooper, and part of the Northern Lights ensemble for “Tears Are Not Enough”.

Around 1987, Vivienne Williams, Colina Phillips and Sharon Lee Williams formed Sway. They released a single titled “Hands Up”.

Hands Up by Sway
“Hands Up” is a song written by Daniel Vanguarde and Jean Kluger. Born in 1947 in France with the birth name, Daniel Bangalter, Daniel Vanguarde began working in the 1970s with French recording stars Ringo (born Guy Bayle) and Sheila (already a pop star from the age of 16 with her 1963 million-selling number-one French charting single “L’école est finie”). It was the first of 14 number-one singles Sheila had in France in the 1960s, prior to her collaboration with Daniel Vanguarde. Her husband, Ringo, sold 30 million French-language records in the 1970s.

Jean Kluger was born in 1937 in Antwerp, Belgium. His career started in 1957, working for his father’s company, World Music. He established his own company, Editions Jean Kluger, after the death of his father in 1963, and in 1965 moved to Paris where he established the company Bleu Blanc Rouge with his wife Huguette Ferly. Over the years, Kluger wrote songs recorded by Nana Mouskouri, Petula Clark, Dalida, Claude François, The Gibson Brothers, La Compagnie Créole, and other European recording artists. Vanguarde and Kluger collaborated in both writing and producing a number of these and other recording artists.

One of these was Ottawan, a French duo comprised of Patrick Jean-Baptiste and Annette Eltice. Kluger and Vanguarde wrote (and Daniel Vanguarde produced) Ottawan’s first single “D.I.S.C.O”. The 1979 hit peaked at #1 in the Netherlands and Norway, #2 in Belgium, Ireland, the UK and West Germany, #4 in Austria, #5 in Sweden and Switzerland, and #7 in France.

Ottawan’s only other Top Ten hit was in 1981 with “Hands Up (Give Me Your Love)”. In 1981-82, their original version of the song peaked at #1 in Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and Spain, #2 in Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and West Germany, #3 in Austria and the UK, #4 in Belgium and Switzerland, #5 in South Africa, and #6 in Israel.

In “Hands Up”, the singer is infatuated with the look and style of a special someone. They ask themselves, “What can I do to get closer to you?” The one they adore doesn’t acknowledge them. But they are confident the two are meant to be together: “Why you don’t ever start looking at me? Stop that game, don’t waste your time, for all your dreams are matchin’ mine.” The guy proposes: “Let me be your Romeo, your wonder boy, and your super champ. Let me take you to the Milky Way.” Will the lady give him all her love, as he desires? Keep on dancing to the song.

Sway’s cover of “Hands Up” peaked a #2 in Hamilton (ON), #8 in Sydney (NS), and #24 in Vancouver (BC).

At the Juno Awards in 1989, Sway was nominated for Best Single. But they lost out to Blue Rodeo’s “Try”.

In 1992, Colina Phillips was part of the jazz group Sv3 who released a CD titled Blue Mood. She went on to become a documentary filmmaker. She has also been featured in jingles, TV and radio projects.

Vivienne Williams joined the Kaleefah Choir in 1992. They released an album drawing on funk, soul, world and folk music titled Listen to the World.  Her voice has been featured in commercials, including  “Hershey’s Cookies & Creme”, and “Bank of Montreal’s Mbank Launch”, in which she sings Bob Dylan’s “The Times Are A-Changin”. Vivienne Williams appeared in the film The Natalie Cole Story, and Mr. Rock N’ Roll: The Alan Freed Story. She has provided backing vocals for Bruce Cockburn, Anne Murray, Corey Hart, Percy Sledge, The Platters, Tower of Power, George Benson, Dan Hill, Gowan, and others. She has also been nominated for a Juno Award in the R&B/Soul Recording category for her song “Infatuated”.

Daniel Vanguarde’s son, Thomas Bangalter, is one half of the duo called Daft Punk, who had an international number-one hit in 2013 titled “Get Lucky”. In 2016 he became president of the International Certificate for Piano Artists (ICPA).

July 3, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Vivienne Williams bio,” viviennewilliams.com.
Sharon Lee Williams bio,” musicent.com.
Colina Phillips/Colina Phillips Solo,” theartycrowd.ca
Sheila, “L’école est finie“, Philips, 1962.
Daniel Vanguarde,” Wikipedia.org.
Jean Kluger,” Wikipedia.org.

Hands Up by Sway

CKOC 1150-AM Hamilton (ON) Top Ten | February 24, 1988

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