Born as Flora Yvonne Coleman in Richmond, Virginia, Fair's early jobs included work with The Chantels and the James Brown Revue. While performing with Brown, she recorded the song "I Found You", which he later re-worked into his own signature hit "I Got You (I Feel Good)".
She signed to Motown Records in the early 1970s and had a small part as a singer in the film Lady Sings the Blues (1972). Fair worked with producer Norman Whitfield on a series of singles: "Love Ain't No Toy", "Walk Out the Door If You Wanna", and her cover version of "Funky Music Sho' 'Nuff Turns Me On". All these featured on her only album for Motown in 1975 called The Bitch Is Black, which was re-released on CD for the first time more than 30 years later.
Her cover of "It Should Have Been Me" reached the low end of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976. The track proved a big hit in the UK, where it climbed to number 5 in February 1976, Fair's only UK hit record. In addition, the song featured in a special episode of BBC TV programme The Vicar of Dibley, entitled "The Handsome Stranger", originally broadcast on 25 December 2006.
She was married to Sammy Strain, who was a member of both Little Anthony and the Imperials and The O'Jays.Strain is one of the few artists in music history that is a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, having been inducted with the O'Jays in 2005, and The Imperials in 2009.
Yvonne Fair died, aged 51, from undisclosed causes in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 6, 1994.
- The Bitch Is Black (1975); reissued by Reel Music as CD (2009).
Releases on Tamla Motown (UK)
- TMG913 - "Funky Music Sho' 'Nuff Turns Me On" / "Let Your Hair Down"
- TMG1013 - "It Should Have Been Me" / "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover"
- TMG1025 - "It's Bad for Me to See You" / "Walk Out the Door If You Wanna"