Born Madeline Bell Brodus on 23 July 1942 in Newark, New Jersey, USA, and raised by her grandmother, who was originally instrumental in encouraging Madeline's natural singing talent at the age of five. She sang gospel music in church and at school, approximately eight years later Madeline became aware of pop music, inspired by Sam Cooke.
During her High School years Madeline met singers at school who targeted their gospel music towards pop music. In addition Madeline sang on corners of streets, local clubs, and talent shows. Madeline was a prominent member of the local gospel choir and at the age of fourteen her voice was unique and powerfully penetrating, with such range it could be distinctly heard above a one hundred and fifty strong gospel ensemble.