PRAISE! A Sunday Gospel Supper
Making A Career

When Bern graduated from high school, her father decided she would attend Florida Memorial University. Bern attempted to obey her father’s command, but her stint as a college student didn’t last too long.  She left after a month and returned to Baltimore.  Her gutsy move to leave school resulted in her first big musical break:  she was invited to join The People’s Choice, who were riding high on their number one hit, “Do It Anyway You Wanna.” Members of the group went to her house and talked her parents into signing for her.  Almost immediately, she made her debut with the group on a national tour. 

When the group made a tour stop in Seattle, Washington, Bernadette, all of 18 years old, fell in love with the Emerald City and left the group to settle there.  She decided instantly that she was going to stay in Seattle. She wound up staying in Seattle for fifteen years, becoming a beloved fixture on the city’s budding soul and funk scene as a member of Epicentre and Acapulco Gold.

Her decision to move to Seattle reaped immediate dividends.  Stevie Wonder, a childhood friend of Bern’s, flew from Los Angeles to Seattle to join her and the band on stage during one of their gigs. “It was the most amazing evening,” she recalls. Wonder encouraged her to join him in Los Angeles to further pursue a music career.  Under Stevie’s aegis, Bernadette received voice lessons from the world renowned Seth Riggs. Wonder signed her to his Black Bull label and began recording songs.  It soon became apparent that Wonder’s career as a singer eclipsed his duties as a producer and record label owner.  Bern recorded five songs, but her output languished in the vaults.  Although disappointed at the lack of activity, the move led to a wonderful development on the personal front – within a year Bern had met and married her husband and manager, Motown staff writer Bill Miller.

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