Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley-Grace (born October 18, 1968) is an
American R&B/gospel singer and actress, best known for her 1988
ballad, "Thanks for My Child."
Cheryl Riley was born in Brooklyn, New York. She worked as a nurse
for handicapped children for ten years before beginning her singing
career, topped the US R&B chart and hit the Top 40 on the pop
chart at #32 with the 1988 ballad, "Thanks for My Child,"
a song written by Full Force. It peaked at #75 in the UK Singles Chart
in January 1989. The genesis of "Thanks for My Child"
began with Full Force member Bowlegged Lou's experience with the complications
of his wife's first pregnancy.
As pivotal as "Thanks for My Child" was for Riley's career,
it was not the first song Lou offered to her. She refused his offer
to record "I Wonder If I Take You Home" because she did
not want to spread herself too thin, but after it became a million-selling
hit for Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam in 1985, she thought she had missed
her big break. Lou then offered her "Thanks for My Child".
Riley still had her nurse's job when the song went to number one on
the R&B chart.
The title track single to her debut LP Me Myself and I made it to
number 18 on the R&B charts in early 1989. Another single, "Every
Little Thing About You," peaked at number 55 on the R&B charts
later that year. Her second LP, Chapters, was issued and yielded the
singles "How Can You Hurt the One You Love" and a cover
of Aretha Franklin's 1968 hit "Ain't No Way". Her third
album All That! was released by Reprise, and featured the singles
"Gimme" and "Guess I'm in Love."
After a hiatus from the entertainment industry, Riley re-emerged
in the early 2000s as a star in a number of gospel plays for best-selling
playwright Tyler Perry, including Madea's Class Reunion, Madea Goes
to Jail, Why Did I Get Married?, Laugh to Keep from Crying, Madea's
Big Happy Family and the most recent, A Madea Christmas. Riley also
appeared in the film versions of Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea's
Big Happy Family. On June 27, 2006, she released her first album in
fourteen years, called Let Me Be Me.