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The Love Behind “Lovin’ You”

A light pink boombox with hearts to the right and lowercase text saying "la la la la la" underneath and a music notes banner above
Graphic by Aminah Jenkins

“Lovin’ You” brings the hearts of everyone together, especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, and will be talked about for a lifetime. On the stage of Midnight Special, a late musical series during the 1970s, a woman captures the audience’s heart with dragon breaths around her afro like a halo. In an off-the-shoulder dress that sways to her own rhythmic voice stands Minnie Riperton.

The “Perfect Angel” album was a collaborative effort between songwriter and husband, Richard Rudolph, Riperton, and was produced by Stevie Wonder. Released on Aug. 9, 1974, “Perfect Angel” embodied the warm and friendly spirit of Gainesville, Florida, where they wrote the song, and the sugary-sweet feeling of becoming a mother. The spirit of Riperton elicits a love we can all relate to but never replicate. Her live show proves that she is more than perfect to perform this song. Her spirit, fashion, and grace are reflected in her voice and style. Rudolph tells the intention behind writing “Lovin’ You” was to get the world closer to Minnie. The song did just that.

Throughout select movies, television shows, and songs, Riperton is presented as loving and comedic. What makes this song so special isn’t just the message (which was told to be inspired by the birth of her daughter), it's the famous whistle note that Riperton always sought to execute in her music. It was her signature style. The 2000s was an era of movies that were beyond memorable. For the 2000’s kids, these are the movies of our childhoods. Sentimental scenes like in the “Johnson Family Vacation” (2004) and comedic ones like in "The Nutty Professor” (1996) speaks volumes about how “Lovin’ You” pervades pop culture.

During the scene in “Johnson's Family Vacation,” the mother shares a bath with her youngest daughter, after a day of chaos and problem-solving, and begins to sing to her. While sharing smiles, the mother bursts into laughter to hear how her daughter sings the ravishing whistle note. In “Seven Pounds,” we see a romantic dinner shared between a couple whose love will last a lifetime. Upon the first bite of the meal, Will Smith hums the melody to “Lovin’ You,” and upon the execution of the whistle notes, each of them bursts into laughter and warmth immediately filled the room. What pop culture finds comedic about the song isn’t the lyrics, but the attempt to replicate the infamous whistle note that Ripterton belts with ease.

Riperton’s ballad has also reached people across genres. In 1993, reggae artist J.C. Lodge released a version of the song titled “Loving You” that still captured the melodies of the original while incorporating the free-flowing nature of her genre. Lodge incorporated her personal style to create a new kind of song for people to enjoy.

“Lovin’ You” is timeless. Riperton’s pureness opened the hearts, minds and souls of the world. Minnie Riperton’s dear tune is memorialized by romantics and soul lovers. Sweethearts will sing it for years to come.

By Melissa Taylor, Contributing Writer


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