One of the three children of Guyanese-born comedian Benny Nightingale and his wife Iris (the couple had another daughter, Rosalind, and a son, Glen), Maxine Nightingale first vocalized with her school band. When Nightingale was aged thirteen she and a friend visited a neighbourhood house where a band called Unisound was rehearsing: Nightingale was asked to sing with the band and resultantly became a member performing extensively on the British cabaret circuit: the manager of a club where Unisound performed arranged for Nightingale to cut a demo which he shopped to Pye Records for whom Nightingale made her first recordings. Despite being overseen by label a&r head Cyril Stapleton, Nightingale's three Pye single releases - issued in June and July 1969 and 26 March 1971 - went unnoticed.In 1969 Nightingale began a tenure of roughly a year and a half in the West End production of Hair
playing a supporting role and understudying the female lead role of Sheila: Nightingale then relocated to Germany, having formed a relationship with an actor from the German production of Hair
whom she had met when he visited the West End production. In Germany, Nightingale continued her stage musical career in Hair
(as Sheila), Jesus Christ Superstar
, and she began a relationship with Minoru Terada Domberger, the director of the German production of Hair
, which led to marriage and a daughter, Langka Veva Domberger, born in 1973.
Nightingale returned to London with her husband and daughter and appeared in the West End production of Savages
, after which she withdrew from professional performing. According to Nightingale, "I started doing session singing. I didn't do a lot but it was easy to go out in the evening when the baby was sleeping." Her vocalizing on the recording of Al Matthews' "Fool" caught the attention of the session's producer Pierre Tubbs, enough that he asked composer J. Vincent Edwards to write a song for her. Edwards, who had worked with Nightingale in the West End production of Hair
, convinced her to record the song, "Right Back Where We Started From", overcoming Nightingale's initial refusal and disinterest in a second attempt at a recording career. She recorded "Right Back Where We Started From" with the understanding it would be issued under a pseudonym. (Nightingale also had to be convinced to take a royalty rather than a onetime $45 session fee.)After being released on United Artists Records (in Nightingale's true name), "Right Back Where We Started From" reached #8 in the UK in the autumn of 1975. It was released in the US early 1976 to enthusiastic reaction, reaching #2 on the Billboard
Hot 100 in May 1976. Nightingale, who had accompanied her husband to his native Japan, was motivated by her single's US success to return to London to complete a Right Back Where We Started From
album. She then proceeded to the US, which has since remained her home base.
Nightingale's only significant hit in the period following the success of "Right Back Where We Started From" was in the UK with "Love Hit Me" the title cut from her second album. Promoted by Nightingale in a TOTP
appearance broadcast 17 March 1977, "Love Hit Me", peaked at #11 on the UK chart dated 9 April 1977.Nightingale's third album Love Lines
was a 1978 release in the UK and Europe with UK single releases "Lead Me On" and "(Bringing Out) The Girl in Me". Both were overlooked despite Nightingale's promotion of the latter in another TOTP
appearance on 8 June 1978. The US release of "Lead Me On" early in 1979 met with a favorable reception, especially in the easy listening market, and the track reached #1 on Billboard's
Easy Listening chart that July; the track gradually accrued enough mainstream pop support to reach #5 on the Hot 100 that September. As with "Right Back Where We Started From", Nightingale was unable to follow-up her US Top Ten success, the subsequent "(Bringing Out) The Girl in Me" marking Nightingale's final Hot 100 appearance with a #73 peak. Lead Me On
is a re-packaged and slightly remixed version of the previous European lp with the addition of a new song, the disco-styled "Hideaway". The songs "Lead Me On" and "Hideaway" were extended for a promo 12-inch record.Nightingale reached the Top 20 on Billboard'
s R&B chart for the first time in 1982 with "Turn to Me", a duet with Jimmy Ruffin. She then dropped out of the pop mainstream, working for some 20 years as a more jazz-orientated live performer. She has reportedly recorded an album of her live performance at B.B. King's Club at Universal Studios Hollywood although it remains unreleased. Since 2000 Nightingale has become active on the retro music circuit, appearing in the 2004 PBS music special Superstars of Seventies Soul: Live
. In February 2008 Nightingale undertook a club tour of Australia.