Founded in 1957 for a talent show at their high school, they were signed by Florence Greenberg of Tiara Records. Their first single, "I Met Him on a Sunday", was released by Tiara and licensed by Decca Records in 1958. After a brief and unsuccessful period with Decca, they went with Greenberg to her newly formed company, Scepter Records. Working with Luther Dixon, the group rose to fame with "Tonight's the Night". After a successful period of collaboration with Dixon and promotion by Scepter, with seven top 20 hits, The Shirelles left Scepter in 1966. Afterwards, they were unable to maintain their previous popularity.
The Shirelles have been described as having a "naive schoolgirl sound" that contrasted with the sexual themes of many of their songs. Several of their hits used strings and baião-style music. They have been credited with launching the girl group genre, with much of their music reflecting the genre's essence. Their acceptance by both white and black audiences, predating that of the Motown acts, has been noted as reflecting the early success of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. They have received numerous honors, including the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, as well as being accepted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and named one of the 100 best acts of all time by Rolling Stone in 2004. Two of their songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Tonight's the Night", were selected by Rolling Stone on its list of the greatest songs of all time.
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