Gwen Guthrie; Songwriter, Singer of Dance Hits

Gwen Guthrie, 42, a New Jersey-based singer and songwriter who scored several dance and R&B; hits during the 1980s, has died.

She died Wednesday in Orange, N.J., of uterine cancer.

A New Jersey native, Guthrie got her break in the mid-1970s as a background vocalist for Aretha Franklin. Stints with Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross followed, and Guthrie became an in-demand session singer, appearing on albums by Kenny Loggins and Steely Dan, among others. Guthrie's biggest success came in 1986 with "Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent". The song, widely considered to be one of that year's best songs, contained the phrase "no romance without finance," which became a mantra of sorts for many women upon its release.

Guthrie's eponymous debut album was released in 1982. It yielded the sassy club hit "Should Have Been You," which helped establish Guthrie as one of the premier club music performers during the post-disco era.

As a singer, Guthrie was notable for her precise pitch, which she frequently showcased by singing just behind the beat, with a lilting, understated approach. She attracted R&B; fans with ballads and her soulful renditions of hits by the Carpenters and Stephanie Mills.

Guthrie also was an accomplished songwriter, co-penning hits that included Ben E. King's "Supernatural Thing" and Angela Bofill's 1978 debut hit, "This Time I'll Be Sweeter," among others.

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