They grew up together playing music in a garage in Crownsville, Md., styling their own blend of R&B pop into a strong local following at high school dances and local clubs. In 1980 they landed their first recording contract. They were so close to national success they could taste it.
Now, with the release of this summer's album, "Restless" (and the R&B and Top 40 hit "Object of My Desire"), the day may be at hand. The album has sold 400,000 copies with two singles still unreleased; it is expected to go gold, reaching 500,000, by the end of February.
Starpoint recently finished touring with Prince prote'ge' Morris Day and his band The Time and will warm up audiences of 25,000 for soul star Luther Vandross on his tour at the end of February.
And their record company, Elektra, will release a single of "Restless," complete with a video featuring singer Renee Diggs as a glamorous but unsatisfied woman tossing and turning in bed, waiting for her man to return.
Instead of celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday or just taking it easy Monday, Diggs and the band were hard at work in several layers of makeup, hair spray and flashy clothes filming their second video, and talking about how it feels on the brink of success.
"In 1980, when we got our first record contract, we learned one record is the beginning of a career, not the end-all. We were real green then," said Starpoint's George Phillips, whose three brothers Ernesto, Orlando and Gregory are also in the band, along with family friends Diggs and Kayode Adeyemo.
Since joining Elektra, they can boast of TV appearances on "Soul Train" and an upcoming stint on the soap opera "One Life to Live," as well as the two videos and four releases from the "Restless" album.
The "Object" video appeared on VH-1 and Black Entertainment Network, but was not aired on MTV. The record went to No. 8 on the R&B charts and crossed over to No. 25 on the Top 40 listings.
With the luxury of abandoning daytime jobs, the band members now put 90 percent of their efforts into touring and producing the "Restless" album.
"We're glad to be over the struggling days," said Ernesto Phillips, but those days are still close enough to "remind us where we were."
*"A lot of old friends are coming out of the woodwork," he said. Band members have been mobbed by fans in Landover Mall, he said, where he shopped unnoticed before their tour last November. On the other hand, Phillips said, Starpoint still has an uphill battle in avoiding being marketed as a group appealing only to blacks.
"We want to reach everybody," he stressed repeatedly, adding that the group's musical influences include not only Stevie Wonder and the Jackson Five, but the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
Today, Starpoint's musical formula has settled on a comfortable blend of pop tunes, as well as an undercurrent of funk upbeat enough for dance clubs.
"Object" has a highly danceable, funk-underlaid melody that gives Diggs' soprano a chance to slide up and down her 4 1/2-octave range.
For the performance part of the "Restless" video the band lip-synched the lyrics and pretended to play instruments while moving to a choreographed step that involved Diggs singing to each of the band members.
The stage was black, trimmed in 110 small blue lights and a blue spotlight overhead. Diggs wore white leggings, a body-hugging sleeveless outfit with sheer strips of chiffon dangling from her hips.
Diggs, known as soft-spoken and modest when she's not performing, said, "I was nervous about doing the acting part of the 'Restless' video," and admitted she still prefers performing live, because "I love to play with the audience."