Brenda Shannon Greene (born May 2, 1958), known professionally as Shannon, is an American singer and songwriter of freestyle and dance-pop music. She is best known for her single “Let the Music Play”, which topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in 1983 and was certified gold
“Let the Music Play” is a song recorded for her 1984 debut studio album of the same name. The song, written by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, and produced by the former and Mark Liggett, was released on October 24, 1983 as her debut single and as the lead single from the Let the Music Play album.
“Let the Music Play” was the first of Shannon’s four number ones on the US Dance Club Songs chart, reaching the top spot in October 1983. It also became a huge crossover hit in the US, peaking at number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (behind Patti LaBelle’s “If Only You Knew”) and number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1984. It was Shannon’s only Top 40 hit in the States. Some mark “Let the Music Play” as the beginning of the “dance-pop” era.
“Let the Music Play” was ranked 43rd on the 2009 VH1 Special 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 1980s. The song also appears in the video games, Dance Central 3 and Scarface: The World Is Yours.
The original version of the song was produced by Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa. By the early 1980s, the backlash against disco had driven dance music off mainstream radio stations in the US. The rhythmic ingenuity of “Let the Music Play” was largely due to Barbosa, who wrote and arranged the original demo track. Rob Kilgore played all the instruments on this seminal track. It featured a series of keyboard chords and drum patterns produced by gating a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Specifically, a reverb was placed across the kick and snare and hard gated to change the sounds. Further, it was one of the first tracks to sync together a TR-808 and a Roland TB-303 bassline, notorious in later years for the instrument responsible for creating acid house. The TB-303 plays the bassline for the entire song; however, in this case, the filter is not adjusted, which was typical for acid house music. This technical achievement made the production even more groundbreaking, and it also resulted in a unique sound, called “The Shannon Sound”, which in time came to be known as freestyle. The Prophet-5 is used for the hookline and sound effects. The vocal on the chorus is sung by session guitarist/vocalist, Jimi Tunnell, who was uncredited. Shannon sings the answering line but it is Tunnell who sings the “let the music play” hook.