Got to Be Real


"Got to Be Real" is a disco/pop song by Black American singer Cheryl Lynn from her 1978 self-titled debut studio album. The song, which was released in August 1978 as Lynn's debut single, was written by Lynn, David Paich and David Foster. In early 1979, "Got to Be Real" hit number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart, and number eleven on the National Disco Action Top 40 chart. "Got to Be Real" was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame on September 19, 2005.

Disco originated in nightclubs in New York City in the late 1960s, where disc jockeys would play dance music from Black, Latine, and Queer culture that, among other things, was focused on radical expression and feeling good. White artists such as the Bee Gees then started adopting and appropriating disco, which contributed to disco becoming one of the most popular music genres in the US in the 1970s. This then caused a "culture war" of sorts to disrupt between rock and disco artists, in which disco haters rallied around a slogan of "disco sucks." Intersectionally racist and anti-queer backlash of this kind grew so strong that Major League Baseball promoted "Disco Demolition Night" in Chicago on July 12, 1979, a disco record burning event that ended in a riot and cancellation of one of their scheduled games.

Cheryl Lynn's recording of "Got to Be Real" was used on the soundtrack of Paris Is Burning in 1990, and has been noted as reinforcing themes of the documentary film; New York-based DJ Prince Language commented to NPR in 1992 that "The music that animates the movements of the dancers in the film, especially the lyrics, provides a subversive and sometimes even shady commentary on the politics and aesthetics of drag and ball culture. The use of Cheryl Lynn's 'Got To Be Real' is the ultimate example of this, brilliantly touching on drag's invocations of and insistence on 'realness,' and the film shows how balls and dancers ultimately question the very notion of what is 'real' in the context of identity, and how we each create and construct our own 'real' selves."

RMO plays this song to honor the legacy and cultural significance that disco and all its descendent genres have on Black and Queer culture of the past and present, and to continue to advocate for intersectional racial and queer justice via radical inclusion and self-expression.


Cheryl Lynn, David Paich, David Foster

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