Viola Wills (December 30, 1939—May 6, 2009) was an American pop singer known internationally for her multitude of dance club hit singles.
Born Viola Mae Wilkerson in the Watts district of South Los Angeles, Wills was already married from her teens and was the mother of six children before the age of 21 when, in 1965, she was discovered by Barry White who signed her to Bronco Records and rechristened her with the shorter stage surname of Wills. She started her career at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and, over the following years, in addition to working with White, also performed with Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson and many other established recording artists of the era. It was while working in London as one of Cocker's backing vocalists (dubbed the "Sanctified Sisters") that she worked on and released her solo debut album of self-penned originals titled "Soft Centers," backed by Cocker's session players.
Wills' first major break into the mainstream came in 1979 with her cover version of "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" which started a string of dance hits and Wills' subsequent title of a "disco diva". Determined to have a career writing and singing her own songs, Wills recorded and charted her first original hit "Dare To Dream", followed by her version of "Both Sides Now" in London. All three of the songs would land Wills in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1982 her cover of "Stormy Weather" hit #4 in the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Although Wills has not had a mainstream crossover U.S. hit to date, her singles are popular in dance clubs and a number of her recordings are found in various compilations, including "Gonna Get Along Without You Now," "If You Could Ready My Mind," "No News Is News", "A House Is Not a Home", "Love Pains", "Let's Love Now", "Take One Step Forward," and "Always Something There to Remind Me".
Wills died of cancer on May 6, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona at 8:27 a.m. Pacific Time. Her funeral was held at the Macedonia Abbey Baptist Church in Los Angeles on May 15, 2009.