Anita Ward (1956- )

Ring My Bell Album Cover
Ring My Bell Album Cover
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Rhythm and Blues singer Anita Ward was born on December 20, 1956, in Memphis, Tennessee, to James L. Ward, and Juanita Ward. The oldest child, Anita, had four siblings, Cassandra Ward Hibbler, Michael Ward, Entrée Ward, and James L. Ward, Jr. Ward began singing early in the church. She attended Fairley High School in Memphis, and in 1978 received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. During her time at Rust, she was an active member of its Acapella choir and received classical and gospel music training. In 1978, Ward worked as a substitute teacher in the Memphis Public School system for four months.

Ward is, however, best known for the 1979 Disco hit, “Ring My Bell” from her debut album, Songs of Love on the Juana Records label. The song reached no.1 on the Billboard Hot 100, R$&B, and Dance charts and was no. 1 in the United Kingdom. It sold more than a million copies internationally. Later that year Ward released the album Sweet Surrender, which included “Don’t Drop My Love” which peaked at no. 52 R&B, and no. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1980, Ward’s manager, Chuck Holmes, an administrator at Rust, set up an international tour after the success of “Ring My Bell.” She performed first on “The Midnight Special,” a Friday night Pop-Rock variety show on NBC TV. Of all of the global sites and places performed, Ward’s most memorable was at the República Del Distrito Club Polanco in Mexico City, Mexico, in 1981.

In 1989, Ward released the album Wherever There’s Love. A year later, in 1990,” Ring My Bell” was rereleased and hit no. 99 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As part of New York City’s 95th Annual New Year’s celebration on Times Square in 2002, Ward was the program’s hostess and featured to sing “Ring My Bell” as the ball dropped. Tree years later, in 2005, the Beale Street Merchants Association in Memphis, Tennessee, invited Ward to the New Year’s Eve celebration attraction at Beale Street and B.B. King Boulevard where she sang “Ring My Bell.” During the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) World Cup slalom race in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2006, she performed the song again.

In 2011, Ward released “It’s My Night” from the album sharing the same title. The song did not chart.

Anita Ward retired from touring but and occasionally performed as in a 2016 International Gala held at historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis. In 2019, she was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Entertainment.

Anita Ward is married to Stephen R. Richardson and the couple have one daughter.