Gerylane Edgehill, 71, founder of the R&B singing group, The Sweet Delights

Posted: January 22, 2014

WELL, A PAPER BAG full of dollar bills was better than nothing.

That was the payment the female Philly singing group The Sweet Delights got for a gig in New Jersey. Even though the group packed the club, the manager said he couldn't pay the women because he didn't make much money.

However, he must have thought better of his decision, because he later produced the bag of bills.

Gerylane Edgehill, who organized and sang with what by then was a three-woman soul and R&B group from North Philly, told that story to writer Charlie Horner for an article in Echoes of the Past.

Things were not always that desperate for the women, who recorded and performed throughout the Philadelphia region and into New England and Canada in the '60s.

Gerylane, one of the practitioners of the famous "Philadelphia Sound" of the '50s and '60s, the sound that sprang from the kids doing street-corner harmony hoping to be discovered, died yesterday of congestive heart failure. She was 71 and lived in North Philadelphia.

Gerylane, a native of North Carolina, started singing in church as a child, and in the early '60s met Eddie Edgehill, an R&B singer, songwriter and dancer who performed with a number of groups in Philadelphia.

Introduced by a friend, the two married in March 1964.

Gerylane decided she wanted to sing, too, and set about putting together a group of women singers. Eddie was their manager and after going through a series of prospects settled on four singers. Like many singing groups, there were breakups and reunions, but eventually, the group was reduced to three: Gerylane, Valerie Brown and Betty Allen.

Eddie Edgehill, who died in 2010, took the women to Frank Virtuoso's recording studio at Broad Street and Columbia Avenue (now Cecil B. Moore Avenue).

The group, which then included Gracie Montgomery, recorded "Baby Be Mine," released on the Atco label. It got some local airplay but didn't make the charts at the time. However, it is still cherished by collectors.

The Sweet Delights then hit the road. For the next four years, they played nightclubs, supper clubs and private parties, singing their own interpretation of R&B, rock, classical and popular tunes of the day.

They got gigs throughout New England, including Boston and as far away as Prince Edward Island, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Montreal.

They worked Club Harlem in Atlantic City several times.

"At the Club Harlem, we were working the backroom while Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were working the front room at the bar," Gerylane told Charlie Horner.

The Sweet Delights did a 10-day tour of NCO clubs at Army, Air Force and Marine bases throughout the South.

But by the early '70s, the women were tired of traveling and went their separate ways, although they would get together now and then to perform by popular demand.

Gerylane was born to Charles and Luberta Moore in Wilmington, N.C. The family moved to North Philadelphia when she was 8. She graduated from Simon Gratz High School.

Her son, Theo Edgehill, said his mother was an excellent seamstress who had her own business. She also made clothing for family and friends.

"She was real feisty," Theo said. "But a kind and loving person. She was the 'Big Mom' of the family."

Besides her son, she is survived by a sister, Mattie Canty; a brother, Audrey "Sonny" Moore; and three grandchildren.

Services: 10 a.m. Saturday at Second Timothy Tabernacle Church, 2127 Ridge Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Mount Peace Cemetery.

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