Wanda Tolson is a solid and talented woman who came from humble beginnings to performing in one of the greatest soul duets of all time - Peaches & Herb.
Everything changed drastically for Wanda 3 years ago when a fellow church friend and Peaches & Herb band leader introduced her to the original Herb. Herb could not believe his ears and Wanda could hardly believe what he proposed – Will you sing with me as Peaches & Herb?
She is a truly inspirational woman who has become a world class performer. Wanda is a small town girl and a working mother of 2 from Waldorf, Maryland with strong gospel roots. As a teen, she and her brothers started a secular soul group called "The Black Diamonds" and they still perform gospel music together as "The Tolson Family" for all kinds of church and community events. Now she's like Diana Ross!
The “Sweethearts of Soul” are back and they have packed the house in the last year, playing at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA, the Arco Arena in Sacramento, and the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas as well as many other top venues from coast to coast. Now, for the first time, Peaches and Herb are recording together to remake top hits, “Shake Your Groove Thing” and “Reunited”. The new CD is currently being produced in Baltimore by San Juan Records and will be released in the fall.
Has Wanda's life changed? Yes. She remains devoted to her family and her job as a nurse's aid but she has a new job as well - performing some of the greatest love songs in American history.
Other Peaches & Herb hits include "We're Still Together". "Shake Your Groove Thing" went gold, and "Reunited" reached #1 on both the Hot 100 and the Billboard R&B charts, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. "I Pledge My Love," has, by conservative estimates, been played at millions weddings. The music has been featured in almost too many films to mention such as “An Extremely Goofy Movie”, “Monster”, “The Adventures of Priscilla”, “Alvin and The Chipmunks”, “Queen of the Desert”, “Connie and Carla” and “Marock”, as well as others.
Wanda recently spoke with T.E.N. and shared her story of becoming one half of the “Sweethearts of Soul.”
The Entertainment Nexus- Hello Wanda, how are you doing today?
Wanda Tolson- I’m good, how are you?
TEN- I’m doing great! So tell me a little about yourself.
WT- Well, I live in a small town called Waldorf. It’s outside of DC. I’ve been singing for quite some time, probably 10 years or more. I worked with R&B for a while and then changed over to sing gospel. I have been mostly singing gospel until now and I have connected with Herb.
TEN- I believe that you had a gospel group with your brothers called: “Black Diamonds?”
WT- Yes, my father managed it. It was myself, two of my brothers and we had other members too.
TEN- Are gospel and R&B the only types of music that you like?
WT- I like different varieties of music. I like opera, I like country, I like R&B and I especially like my gospel.
TEN- So how did you meet up with Herb?
WT- I was at a church and Herb’s music director attended that church and he introduced me to Herb.
TEN- And you guys just clicked right away and had good chemistry?
WT- I believe so. (Laughs)
TEN- And then from there he asked you to be “Peaches?”
WT- Yes, yes…that’s like a whole new level. Now there’s traveling involved and all of the fans. That’s like a whole new level than what I was doing before.
TEN- So when you perform with Herb, how do the fans react to you?
WT- I believe they enjoy it. They have a good time and we have a good time. We always have a good time because it’s enjoyable when you can do what you love to do…and that’s singing. You really get enjoyment out of seeing all the faces and the people smiling and enjoying themselves for an hour or however long the show is.
TEN- Did you already know most of the songs or did you have to learn them?
WT- I knew some of the songs but because I was doing gospel, I just didn’t sing them ya know? I knew the songs but it’s like you have to go back and relearn them.
TEN- Did you have a lot of rehearsals or did everything just seem to fall into place?
WT- Yes, we had rehearsals.
TEN- Do you get butterflies singing with the large crowds or were you accustomed to that?
WT- It’s a different type of audience as opposed to being in the gospel setting. I think it’s a little different but I believe they’ve accepted me and of course they love Herb. He’s a legend; he’s been out there for years.
TEN- Now that your “Peaches” do you still remain grounded or has your life changed at all?
WT- I’m still grounded and I still work every day. I take care of my children. You just kinda have to balance everything out. My kids are not little babies so I don’t have to worry about them as much. Ya just kinda have to balance things.
TEN- What do they think about you being “Peaches?”
WT- I believe that they are real happy that I have joined Herb.
TEN- How do you think Herb feels about the two of you performing together?
WT- I believe that he is satisfied and content and comfortable with me. I guess you could say that we blend pretty good.
TEN- You have an amazing God given voice.
WT- Oh, thank you.
TEN- You have to give credit where credit is due.
WT- Oh yes sir!
TEN- When you’re performing with Herb, do you ever look at him and think “Wow, this is the Herb and I’m “Peaches?”
WT- Well yeah at times, because you just never know where God is gonna place you. I’m just really thankful because like I said, he is a legend. He’s been out there for years and just for me to have the opportunity…to be singing with him…that’s an honor.
TEN- What do you think that you can learn from Herb and all of his experiences throughout the years?
WT- I’m learning how the business is run and things to look for. Things like that. It’s very rewarding.
TEN-What is your favorite song to sing?
WT- My favorite is “Reunited.” And I believe that is a favorite for all the fans and everybody. That’s the favorite!
TEN- Will there be a tour involved?
WT- Well hopefully we will be able to tour. I’m sure that it will come up…hopefully pretty soon. (Laughs)
TEN- Let me ask you this, how did you meet Victoria Talbot?
WT- I met her and her husband at a photo shoot in New York.
TEN- Was that the photo shoot with Alan Barry?
WT- Yes, it was wonderful. The pictures came out great. It was a nice day that day and he just had us pose within crowds and across the street…it was fun. (Laughs)
TEN- I’ve seen some of the photos and their amazing.
WT- They came out very nice…very nice.
TEN- The picture with Herb handing you the peach was really cool.
WT- Yeah, we laughed and joked about that.
TEN- It looked like you guys had a lot of fun.
WT- It was fun…yes. It really was.
TEN- Is there anything else that you want to add or say?
WT- I would just like to say that is really an honor and I am really thankful to be working with Herb and I hope that the fans continue to enjoy “Peaches & Herb.”
All photos courtesy of Alan Barry and for more photos by Alan Barry please visit www.alanbarryphotography.com