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Eric Benét

R&B singer and actor Eric Benét was born on October 15, 1966 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended the Milwaukee Trade and Technical High School. In 1990, Benét formed a group with his sister, Lisa Jordan, called Benét. After a hiatus, Benét signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Records in 1994 and released his first studio album, True to Myself, in 1996. In 1999, Benét released his sophomore album, A Day in the Life, with the single “Spend My Life with You,” featuring the Canadian artist Tamia. During this time, Benét also began his career in film when he guest starred on the sitcom For Your Love in 1999 and appeared in the film Glitter in 2001. Benét then signed a new record deal with Reprise Records and released his third studio album, Hurricane in 2001. In 2005, he portrayed Reece Wilcox on the series Half & Half. In 2007, he had a recurring role on the MTV scripted show Kaya. In 2008, he released the album Love & Life. Two years later, Benét released Lost in Time, which included the single “Sometimes I Cry.” In 2011, his second feature film role in Trinity Goodheart premiered at the American Black Film Festival. Benét released his 2012 album The One and his 2016 album Eric Benét under his newly-formed independent record label, Jordan House Records. He also signed the artists Goapele and Calvin Richardson to his label, and helped produce their records. In 2016, Benét guest starred in the show, Real Husbands of Hollywood.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Benét performed the song “Heart of America” with Wynonna Judd, Terry Dexter, and Michael McDonald to raise money for the hurricane victims. He also co-founded Mission Save Her, a non -profit dedicated to fighting against human trafficking, slavery, and sexual abuse of women and girls around the world.

Benét received three Grammy Award nominations in the R&B category for singles released on his albums. In 2000, he was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song for his performance of “Spend My Life with You.” Benét was also nominated for the Black Reel Award for Best Actor in T.V. movie/cable for his role in the film Trinity Goodheart.

Benét and his wife, Manuela Testolini, have two children, Lucia Bella and Amoura Luna.

Eric Benét was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 19, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.118

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/19/2017

Last Name

Benét

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Eric

Birth City, State, Country

Milwaukee

HM ID

BEN08

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Wisconsin

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bali

Favorite Quote

No

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/15/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi, italian, soul food

Short Description

R&B singer and actor Eric Benét (1966 - ) a Grammy nominated R&B singer, known for his 1996 song “Spend My Life with You” featuring Tamia, has acted in television and movies, and founded his independent record label Jordan House Records.

Favorite Color

Most often blue

Meli'sa Morgan

R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan was born on December 6, 1964 in Queens, New York. She began her singing career at the early age of nine years old as a member of the Starlets of Corona gospel choir. She went on to study music and theatre at The Juilliard School Performing Arts Conservatory in New York.

In 1978, a fourteen-year-old Morgan released her debut single “I’m In The Prime Of Love” on Stang Records with the funk group Business Before Pleasure. Morgan next joined Shades of Love; and, in 1982, the group’s track “Body to Body (Keep in Touch) charted on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. That year, disco producer Jacques Fred Petrus asked Morgan to join his new studio group, High Fashion. The group’s song “Feelin’ Lucky Lately” charted on U.S. Black Singles. It was their sole hit, and Morgan soon left the group to sing back-up with the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and Melba Moore. In 1986, Morgan released her solo debut album Do Me Baby on Capitol Records. The title track, her cover of the Prince original, topped R&B charts for three weeks. Her 1987 duet with Kashif was released on her album, Good Love, and served as the title track of Kashif’s Love Changes. In 1990, she returned to Capitol with The Lady In Me. Her 1992 release with Pendulum Records, Still in Love with You, included her cover of Al Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You.” In 2005, Morgan wrote and sang background for Mary J. Blige’s song “Good Woman Down,” which was featured in Tyler Perry’s film I Can Do Bad All by Myself. The next year, she released her fifth solo album I Remember on Orpheus Records; Valerie Simpson played piano on Morgan’s rendering of Ashford & Simpson’s Motown hit “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.” Morgan also teamed up with Freddie Jackson to record the classic song “Back Together Again.” In 2014, Morgan collaborated with fellow 1980s R&B stars Cheryl Pepsii Riley and Full Force on “Thank You for Leaving Me.” She was also nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for “In the Mood to Take It Slow,” her collaboration with jazz artist Najee. Morgan was the subject of a 2015 episode of TVOne’s Unsung; and, in 2016, released her new single, “So Good,” and signed a contract with Cleopatra Recards. Morgan has writing credits on most of her songs, which have been remixed and sampled by Junior Vazquez, Mary J. Blige, Cool Million and others. She continues to tour in the United States and abroad, and released the album Love Demands in 2018.

Meli’sa Morgan was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 23, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.027

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/23/2016

Last Name

Morgan

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Melissa

Occupation
Schools

P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong School

I.S. 61 Leonardo Da Vinci

I.S. 73 The Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School

John Bowne High School

The Juilliard School

First Name

Joyce

Birth City, State, Country

Queens

HM ID

MOR16

Favorite Season

None

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

The First Law Of Nature Is Self Preservation.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/6/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan (1964 - ) began her vocal career in 1979 with Business Before Pleasure, and went on to sing back-up with the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, and Melba Moore. She released six studio albums.

Employment

Army Recruiters Office

New York Hospital

Chase Bank

Hush Productions

Capitol Records

Electra Records

Pendulum Records

Orpheus Records

RFC Records

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:7252,89:9240,94:9580,99:10090,106:16720,187:21990,300:28942,367:30353,393:30685,398:31432,411:35914,512:36744,524:37076,529:42040,559:42574,566:44799,622:45867,665:46312,671:46668,676:47914,700:49516,744:49872,749:51652,777:64208,923:64524,928:64840,933:65156,938:67052,972:76368,1078:78480,1120:84654,1190:89942,1293:111862,1633:113840,1860:132560,2076:139528,2110:145990,2195$0,0:1909,62:3154,87:10590,241:18460,322:18820,327:19180,332:23165,373:28580,496:30955,556:57871,948:60220,1041:60544,1046:62731,1106:72856,1326:73423,1343:79498,1727:117444,2010:117776,2015:118440,2024:121677,2209:122009,2214:122673,2223:126740,2298:128970,2304:130816,2329:133372,2362:162990,2656:163944,2706:168074,2745:168992,2755:169400,2760:170420,2789:190398,3113:191538,3123:195846,3148:196448,3155:198426,3200:199200,3217:200232,3233:201178,3251:202124,3271:202640,3278:219526,3513:220710,3525
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Meli'sa Morgan's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls joining the Starlets of Corona

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers performing with the Starlets of Corona

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her early musical performances

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan describes her informal music training

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Keep in Touch (Body to Body)'

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the disco scene in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers moving into her father's household

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about Jacques Fred Petrus

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers New York City's underground club scene

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the members of High Fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers leaving High Fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls auditioning to tour with Chaka Khan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers touring with Chaka Khan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers working with Whitney Houston and Kashif

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her decision to record 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Do Me Baby'

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers visiting Kashif's mansion in Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers meeting Prince

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Love Changes'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls being featured on the cover of Ebony magazine

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers leaving Hush Productions

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her decision to leave Capitol Records

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the importance of business sense for recording artists

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers her first marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the advantage of hip hop music for record labels

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers working with Mary J. Blige

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Can't Knock the Hustle' with Mary J. Blige and Jay Z

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her work with Pendulum Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the perks of music remakes

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Fool's Paradise'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers signing a contract with Orpheus Music

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about the Sugar Bar in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers recording 'Sweet Baby' with Cool Million

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Meli'sa Morgan remembers the death of Whitney Houston

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Meli'sa Morgan recalls her collaboration with Full Force

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her appearance on TV One's 'Unsung'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Meli'sa Morgan describes the Meli'sa Morgan Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Meli'sa Morgan reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Meli'sa Morgan shares her advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Meli'sa Morgan reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Meli'sa Morgan talks about her relationship with her fiance

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Meli'sa Morgan narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Do Me Baby'
Meli'sa Morgan talks about the popularity of 'Fool's Paradise'
Transcript
And how was it received in the public?$$Oh, it was, it was wonderful. Wow. I, I had no idea that people wanted women to be so nasty (laughter). I just had no idea. You know, and then after that, I mean, c'mon, from the Apollonia [Apollonia Kotero] to the, you know, up to the Nicki Minaj now and what they're doing now, the Lil' Kim and stuff, I mean, you know. This was light stuff, but back then, it was like, she is nasty. I want to get to know her, and I wasn't nasty at all. I was, I was totally the opposite of what they expected to me.$$How did others respond? Because, remember, you've been in this gospel group [Starlets of Corona], and, you know, folks back home. You got the okay from your daddy [John Morgan]. But how did your community respond when they heard this nasty song?$$Well, because it was so sensual and sexy the way that I did it, I don't know how the men responded. You know, I tried to stay away from that. But the women were kind of happy that, you know, somebody was expressing sensuality. Yeah. So some of the older women, you know, a little bit at first. You know, "You sang that?" Let me tell you something that's so funny. When 'Do Me Baby' came out, and it was a hit, it went number one, and Whitney was out at the same time, and she did 'You Give Good Love,' and, oh, I want to dance with somebody ['I Wanna Dance with Somebody'] everything like that. We went to New Orleans [Louisiana]. I had a show in New Orleans. On one side of the street (laughter) where the retail and everything was, they was playing Whitney Houston. (Singing), "You give good love to me, baby." On the other side of the street where the brothel was, they was, they was playing 'Do Me Baby' as loud as they can. I was like, wait a minute, here. C'mon, that's not fair (laughter). That's not fair. Why my music gotta be in the brothel and hers in the retail stores? That's not right. That's not right. I mean, I was down the street saying, that's wrong. That's so wrong. But, yeah, and I mean, and a woman was out there, you know, in her little scanty clad and, you know, dressed up, and they were blasting 'Do Me Baby.' I said, that's so wrong (laughter).$And speaking of "Fool's Paradise" 'cause we didn't talk about that. "Fool's Paradise" came out when?$$Well, "Fool's Paradise" was on the first album ['Do Me Baby'] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$Eighty-six [1986], '87 [1987].$$And remains popular.$$That song, "Fool's Paradise" has a life of its own. I did not even know that song was a hit. I was on tour with Billy Ocean and Freddie Jackson, and we did Radio City [Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York], was coming back to New York [New York], and my BFF, Darlene [Darlene Scott], who's here. She says, "So what songs are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to do, "Do Me Baby," "Now or Never," this, da, da, da, "Do You Still Love Me"." She says, "Girl, you got--where's "Fool's Paradise"?" I says, "What do you mean? What--where's "Fool's Paradise"?" She says, "You got to do "Fool's Paradise"." I says, "No, that's, that's just a song on the album." She said, "Where have you been, girl? "Fool's Paradise" is a hit in New York City. They're playing it like, like crazy in New York." I didn't even know. So she said, "You have to do this." So I've been on tour for like six, seven months. I don't know nothing about what's a hit or not, you know. So you have--$$So you were traveling all over where?$$All, all over the, the country. We're doing, you know, Ohio, little--Arkansas, Kansas, you know, I mean, we're just doing all kind of places.$$Are you traveling international as well?$$No, not yet, not yet.$$Okay.$$So I, I don't know even know anything about this, so I go into the office. I said, "Well, I have to do "Fool's Paradise." I gotta get the band together and do "Fool's Paradise"." Well, they told me, "Yeah, you have to do that because it's number one in Europe as well." I'm like, "What? Are you kidding me?" I'm thinking that "Do Me Baby" is still--and they're like, "No, it's "Fool's Paradise"." So we go. We do Radio City. Sold out. Me and Billy Ocean. I hit the first note of "Do Me Baby" and five thousand people jump out of their seats (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Of "Do Me Baby"?$$No, I'm sorry. Of "Fool's Paradise."$$Of "Fool's Paradise."$$Of "Fool's"--$$Right.$$--"Paradise." And five thousand people jump out of their seats and start dancing all in the audience. I'm like, what the heck? I didn't even know it was a hit. That is crazy.$$And could we hear a little "Fool's Paradise"?$$Oh, Lord. She's got me singing. (Singing), "Fool's paradise. You better think twice 'cause it's not very nice." (Laughter) Yeah.$$Thank you (laughter). Having a hit that lasts over decades.$$Oh, yeah.$$That, that has.$$Yeah.$$What does that mean for you, for your career?$$Huge, huge. That means that I can still continue. Recently, last November, I played Wembley.$$That would be in 2015.$$Twenty fifteen [2015], I opened for Patti LaBelle at Wembley Arena [SSE Arena, Wembley] in London [England] 'cause of "Fool's Paradise" and, and "Do Me Baby" because they're still hits. Yeah, so we just came from Toronto, Canada. I'm getting ready to go to South Africa. I'm getting ready to play Dominican Republic, and all of the United States. It's, it's huge because I can still work and, and be viable and make money. I've been able to open up for people like Joe and, and Ginuwine and Keith Sweat, and, you know, still Freddie Jackson and The Temptations and the Four Tops and Blue Magic and all these people because of my hits, yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm, um-hm.$$So it's very viable.

KEM

R & B singer and songwriter Kim Lamont Owens (KEM) was born in Nashville, Tennessee. When he was young, his family moved from Nashville to the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan. Owens began to explore the keyboard when he was four, and became fascinated by music in high school in the 1980s. However, upon graduation, he dealt with homelessness, addiction, and isolation from his family. Owens recovered in 1990 and took a job as a waiter at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan. He also booked weddings and other shows that allowed him to perform original music.

In February of 2001, Owens self-released his first album, Kemistry, which sold nearly 15,000 copies and piqued the interest of Motown Records. Motown signed Owens to a five-record deal in November of 2001 and re-released Kemistry in 2003. The album reached the Top 20 of the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart, its first single, "Love Calls," became a hit, and the record went gold. Owens’ second CD, Album II, was released in 2005 and sold over 500,000 copies in the United States. The album included the hit single "I Can't Stop Loving You," a #1 at urban adult contemporary radio. In 2010, he released his third album, Intimacy, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The record’s first single, “Why Would You Stay,” spent several weeks at #1 on the Urban AC Radio charts. Owens went on to produce a Christmas album entitled What Christmas Means in 2012, and then a follow-up deluxe edition of the CD in October of 2013.

In 2012, Owens established Mack & Third, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the homeless by gathering food and raising funds for Detroit’s shelters and food banks. He also presents the annual ‘Mack & Third’ event, an all-day free concert to benefit and recognize the city’s homeless citizens.

Owens won the Billboard Music Award for Top Adult R&B Single of the Year in 2005, and was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards in 2006. He was also nominated in 2010 for a Soul Train Award for Best Male R&B/Soul Artist; two Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song; and the BET Centric Award. Owens was nominated four more times at the 44th NAACP Image Awards in 2013.

Kem was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 23, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.183

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/23/2014

Last Name

Owens

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lamont

Organizations
Schools

McCarroll Center

Whitmer Human Resources Center

Michigan Institute for Child Development

Pontiac Northern High School

Southfield Senior High School for the Arts and Technology

First Name

Kim

Birth City, State, Country

Nashville

HM ID

OWE02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any Place Near The Ocean

Favorite Quote

It's All Good.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

7/23/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

R & B singer and songwriter KEM (1967 - ) was a recording artist with Motown Records, and his albums include Kemistry, Album II, Intimacy, and What Christmas Means.

Employment

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Motown Record Corporation

Mack & Third, Inc.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:186,4:3844,111:5952,168:6200,173:13782,369:14754,385:18318,458:21477,517:27772,551:28364,564:28660,569:33174,655:33544,661:35468,703:36134,715:37688,736:42470,762:46210,940:50630,1018:53010,1054:53350,1059:55390,1153:58025,1289:59300,1301:59895,1309:66690,1315:67098,1320:72700,1383:74200,1410:80682,1458:84268,1516:86218,1560:87466,1587:87856,1593:88168,1598:89806,1636:90196,1642:91444,1669:91834,1694:93472,1710:93940,1717:96202,1747:98464,1791:99088,1800:107530,1854:115236,1903:115676,1909:116556,1919:117436,1949:119788,1962:120024,1967:122730,1996:125850,2089:130294,2135:131658,2162:132712,2187:133332,2204:133766,2231:134138,2238:145630,2415:147470,2440:148110,2449:148430,2458:149390,2491:149790,2506:150350,2515:151710,2541:152590,2577:153470,2588:161536,2634:162019,2642:168229,2903:181296,3101:182192,3158:190318,3194:191950,3249:195598,3317:195982,3322:200580,3367:203310,3437:206040,3501:206600,3516:206880,3521:207230,3527:207510,3532:214575,3629:215143,3640:215711,3661:223770,3820$0,0:7790,172:10332,228:11644,253:12218,266:12546,271:17370,300:19400,348:20700,366:21285,377:27330,539:28370,569:28695,576:36546,788:36972,795:50220,944:55992,970:56260,975:56729,984:60615,1067:64367,1166:66846,1227:67382,1241:69191,1335:73240,1355:74965,1388:75931,1415:79174,1493:80002,1509:83314,1592:83797,1629:87799,1728:88972,1757:100336,1826:115150,2171:120075,2264:121830,2309:124495,2399:125080,2410:126510,2447:130475,2538:189079,3262:190925,3294:192487,3329:192984,3348:196037,3437:201868,3493:202264,3500:205696,3591:206092,3598:206950,3626:207478,3643:208204,3656:208732,3665:209590,3693:210580,3723:214936,3838:243650,4152
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of KEM's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - KEM lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - KEM describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - KEM talks about his maternal grandparents and his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - KEM describes his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - KEM recalls his relationship with stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - KEM describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - KEM lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - KEM describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - KEM describes the sounds of his childhood in Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - KEM recalls his neighborhood in Pontiac, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - KEM talks about his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - KEM describes his childhood personality and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - KEM remembers the popular culture of the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - KEM talks about his early interest in music

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - KEM describes his early academic experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - KEM remembers his music teacher at the Michigan Institute for Child Development in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - KEM describes the musical legacy of Michael Jackson

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - KEM recalls learning about Motown Records

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - KEM describes his friendship with music producer Brian O'Neal

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - KEM talks about the musicians from the Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - KEM recalls leaving Southfield High School in Southfield, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - KEM talks about the start of his struggle with addiction

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - KEM remembers his experiences of homelessness and addiction

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - KEM describes his breakthrough in overcoming his addictions

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - KEM talks about how his spirituality contributed to his sobriety

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - KEM remembers working as a waiter while pursuing his music career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - KEM describes his early jobs in the music industry

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - KEM remembers Brian O'Neal's relocation to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - KEM talks about his band members

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - KEM recalls independently recording and marketing his first album

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - KEM remembers signing a recording contract with Motown Records

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - KEM explains the alternate spelling of his stage name

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - KEM talks about his musical influences and philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - KEM describes his hit song, 'Love Calls'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - KEM talks about the subject matter of his music

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - KEM talks about his song, 'Brotha Man'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - KEM talks about the time gaps between his album releases

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - KEM describes his second album, 'Album II,' and creative process

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - KEM talks about his third studio album, 'Intimacy'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - KEM reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - KEM describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - KEM reflects upon his professional legacy and family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - KEM describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$4

DATitle
KEM remembers his music teacher at the Michigan Institute for Child Development in Detroit, Michigan
KEM recalls independently recording and marketing his first album
Transcript
So, when you were growing up would you say that you didn't have like much of an outlet for your creativity? I mean, you know, aside from, 'cause I was reading that in high school [Southfield High School; Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, Southfield, Michigan] you'd spend your lunch hour doing music.$$I would skip classes to do music.$$Okay.$$So, I would not go to class and I would be in the music room. And, I don't know that, I mean, there was, you know, there was an outlet for it but it was also a, you know, 'cause I was in choir in, in high school. There--it wasn't in my house but I mean I, you know, I was, I was trying to write songs. I was, I was, you know, have, not having, not having it in, in the home was not a, was not a deterrent.$$Okay. 'Cause you had, you had friends that you could (simultaneous)--?$$(Simultaneous) You know, I had, I had friends that were into music or, you know, I mean, you know, yeah, so we, we got it done.$$Now, were there any, any teachers in high school, or any adult figures, aside from your parents [Elizabeth Hardy and KEM's step father, Erick Hardy] of course, that were like a role model for you, or mentors?$$In middle, in middle school [Michigan Institute for Child Development, Detroit, Michigan] there was a, there was a teacher named Greg Smith. And, I wish I knew where he was today. And, he sat me down and, 'cause in middle school, I started singing, a ver- my version of George Benson's 'Broadway' ['On Broadway'] in front of my class, acapella. And, and they dug it, you know. And, and it was the first time that I had gotten, it was, it was the first time in middle school, you know, the thing for, the thing in middle school that I was, that I was, I was known for that I got positive feedback for, positive attention from doing. And, and Greg Smith recognized that, and, and he sat me down and, and helped me start writing a song. Well, we were, we were actually, we were actually reassembling a song that already existed. Like, it may have been from The Temptations or the, The Manhattans or somebody. And, he was, you know, coaching me through the process of, of writing a song. And, he would get me, he would do things to, or say things that would get me to, you know--he may write a line down and then he would get me to write the line. And, we were actually recreating a song that was already, you know, in, in existence. And, I can't remember what the song was. And, at the time, you know, I didn't know how important that was at the time, you know. I didn't know, you know, what that was. And, but, some of my most positive musical experiences happened in middle school, and I didn't really think about that until today.$$Now, did you play any instrument?$$I mean, I play piano, I mean, you know, I played piano. I don't know if there was--I don't think there was a piano in school. I don't know.$$Now, you're like a self taught piano player, right?$$Yeah. 'Cause I don't play, I mean, I'm not a virtuoso by any means, you know what I mean. I don't even--I can't even--I don't even read music, you know. And, and I only play my own songs, you know. And, you know, I've tried to study it but I just--I'm not, I mean, you know what, I mean, you know what, I mean, go figure, man. I'm not acclimated to that aspect of, of music. I just, you know, I've never, you know, I've sat in classes and I've taken, you know, I been choir where, you know, it was all laid out, you know, I've, you know, and I've just never been able to get it, you know. And, you know, I think it's the, I think it's the, you know, the math thing, the numbers thing. I've never been, you know, it's just not my thing. I can count money though, so, if I'm supposed to get paid, we gonna, we gonna, you know (laughter).$$All right--$So, the songs that are on the Motown [Motown Records] 'Kemistry' CD were the same songs that are on the first one you did (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) The fr- most of those songs are, all of those songs are on that record, right. And, the thing is, is that people, even though we never released it, people got the CD [compact disc]. People would get, people had access to it, or had found it, or somebody gave it to 'em, and they were playing it. And, people were digging it. You know, unbeknownst to me, you know, people were digging it. And, by the time I started doing shows, doing that music, there were, you know, a small group of people we would perform at Half Past 3 [Detroit, Michigan], which was a club that was over on Grand River [Grand River Avenue]. And, people were sitting in the audience, man, and they would be singing this stuff. They would be singing this stuff off of that CD that I couldn't stand, you know. And, I, and I went back into the studio. I got a business line of credit, and keyboard thing, you know, and it all works together, you know. It's all good. All of those things work together, you know, everything works together. The keyboard thing helped me, you know, not spending that money on the Mary Kay [Mary Kay Inc.]. Which my mother [Elizabeth Hardy] hated me for at the time (laughter), in which she's probably now looking back knows that--you know, she's grateful for it, you know what I mean, about the keyboard. Established credit and then later one down the line, I was able to get a business line of credit from American Express [American Express Company]. Which I had financed my first CD on. Now, American Express didn't know that's what I was gonna do with the money. But, that's what I did. And, I, and when I got, when American Express gave me a seventeen thousand dollars business line of credit, and I quit my job. Do not do this at home (laughter). Do not try this at home, you know. I quit my job. I quit my day--no, I didn't quit my job. I quit working at the hotel, working at The Ritz [The Ritz-Carlton Dearborn; The Henry, Autograph Collection, Dearborn, Michigan]. But, I was still singing in the choir [at Renaissance Unity, Warren, Michigan] and doing the, doing the wedding band thing. But, I, you know, I was like you know what, you know, and went and I recorded the 'Kemistry' CD, you know, in the studio. I still, we heading up with these same guys, didn't know what I was doing, you know. And, kind of like stumbled and fumbled, you know, our way into making the 'Kemistry' CD, you know. And, and the rest is history.$$So, so the way this, you finance your own CD, and it, how does it come to the attention of the Motown label?$$Because I set the, you know, I put a barcode on the CD, I put a barcode on the CD so that when--and the CD was on, I had it in retail outlets which are, you know, are not, you now, I mean, the mom and pop stores, man. And, you know, all the, all the record shops in town had my CD, and I put 'em in there on consignment. So, every time somebody bought a CD, you know, if they bought Luther [Luther Vandross] CD it blipped somewhere. If they bought my CD, you got the, you got a blip too. I mean, I was in the, I was in the system like that. And, and, we were, you know, and, you know, the best market in the world was giving the CD away and putting it in people's hands, you know, and having them like it, you know. Best, you know, have something that people like and put it in their hands, you know. And, and we started to build momentum. So, the record label, you know, people are watching and the industry are watching that, you know, this guy in Detroit [Michigan] is selling records, and he's, he doesn't have a label. And, we're getting, we started to air play in different, in different cities, as well as Detroit. And, it had a momentum of its own, you know. So, you know, it made us, it made us ripe for, for a label to come and, and wanna partner with us.$$Okay. So, you, you marketed the CD in beauty salons and black restaurants, and gave a lot 'em away.$$Absolutely, yeah.$$Okay.$$Absolutely.

Eddie Levert

Singer, and member of the famed O’Jays, Edward “Eddie” Levert, was born June 16, 1942, in Bessemer, Alabama. When Levert was eight years old, he moved with his family to the town of Canton, Ohio, where he attended McKinley High School. At a young age, Levert and childhood friend Walter Williams began performing as a gospel duo. As teenagers, the two were inspired to form a singing group after seeing a performance by Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers. Levert and Williams brought together fellow students Bobby Massey, William Powell, and Billy Isles, to form their first group, The Triumphs.

In 1960, The Triumphs signed with Syd Nathan, owner of King Records, and the group was renamed The Mascots. The next year, The Mascots recorded their first single, “Miracles”, which was deemed a local success, and drew the attention of famed Cleveland disc jockey Eddie O’Jay. Because O’Jay was an essential in the group’s managing and mentoring, The Triumphs decided to change their name to The O’Jays, as a tribute. That same year, the O’Jays began working with producer H.B. Barnum and Little Star Records. Shortly after, The O’Jays signed with Imperial Records, and released their debut single, Lonely Drifter, with the released their first album, Comin’ Through following in 1965. After a rocky start- including the withdrawal of Billy Isle from the group– The O’Jays met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Then a part of the production team at Neptune Records, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff went on to create their own label, Philadelphia International, after Neptune shut down in 1971, taking The O’Jays with them. Under the new label, The O’Jays recorded their first big hit, Back Stabbers (1972). While with Philadelphia International, The O’Jays recorded nearly thirty charting singles, and several number one songs. Back Stabbersreached number one on the R&B charts, and number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart. In 1973, The O’Jays released Love Train, and the single became a number one hit on both the Hot 100 and R&B charts. In 1975, co-founder William Powell was forced to leave The O’Jays due to illness, dying of cancer two years later. After Powell’s death, The O’Jays released their fifth album, Family Reunion, which reached number seven on the Billboard Top 200.

The O’Jays have received the Rhythm & Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award (1998), and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2005, they were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2009, BET awarded the group the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the group is still actively touring.

Eddie Levert is the father of three sons—Eddie Jr., Gerald, and Sean—all of whom are/were currently active in the music industry. In 2006, Gerald, an accomplished R&B singer, died at the age of 40. Two years later, son Sean, also an R&B artist, died at the age of 39. Eddie Jr. is currently the CEO of Levert Entertainment, a record label headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Eddie Levert was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.242

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/28/2013

Last Name

Levert

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Mckinley High School

J.J. Burns Elementary School

First Name

Edward

Birth City, State, Country

Bessemer

HM ID

LEV03

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

6/16/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken

Short Description

R & B singer Eddie Levert (1942 - ) was a founding member of The O’Jays, one of the most prominent R&B music groups of the 1970s.

Employment

The O'Jays

Triumphs

Mascots

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Eddie Levert's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert talks about his relationship with his father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert talks about his relationship with his father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert describes his upbringing in Bessemer, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert talks about the importance of perseverance in the struggle

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert talks about his brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Eddie Levert describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Eddie Levert describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Eddie Levert remembers his abusive stepfather

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert talks about his stepmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert remembers his transition into his father's household

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert describes his community in Canton, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert remembers singing in church, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert remembers singing in church, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert recalls starring in 'The Ugly Duckling'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert describes the formation of The Triumphs

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert remembers auditioning for Decca Records

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert recalls signing a contract with King Records

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert recalls changing his band's name to The Mascots

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert remembers the influence of Eddie O'Jay

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert remembers working with H.B. Barnum

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert recalls lessons from The O'Jays' time on the West Coast

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert remembers the West Coast lifestyle

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert reflects upon the challenges faced by artists at Motown Records

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert recalls The O'Jays' decision to return to the East Coast

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert recalls the early years of his marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert remembers the birth of his children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert remembers meeting Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert remembers reuniting The O'Jays in 1972

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert talks about the death of William Powell

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert talks about The O'Jays' repertoire

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert recalls the song selection process at Philadelphia International Records

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert describes The O'Jays' relationship with management, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert describes The O'Jays' relationship with management, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert remembers Cholly Atkins

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert remembers the pop star lifestyle

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert recalls his estrangement from his family

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert remembers helping Gerald Levert secure a record deal

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert reflects upon the impact of his decisions on his family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert describes his strategy for success in the music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert remembers The O'Jays' achievements

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert recalls The O'Jays' failed tour in 1977

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert remembers The O'Jays' comeback in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert talks about 'Family Reunion'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert talks about the production of The O'Jays' concerts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert describes the appeal of The O'Jays' music

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert talks about racial expletives

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert talks about the rights to The O'Jays name

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert describes his relationship with Walter Williams

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert talks about his leadership style

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert remembers his fans

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert remembers his television appearances

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert talks about the intersection of class and race

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert shares his views on the importance of history

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his success as a musician

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert remembers his initial feelings about his sons' music career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert talks about the origin of the name LeVert

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert talks about his advice to his son, Gerald Levert

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert describes his relationship with his son, Gerald Levert

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert remembers touring with his son, Gerald Levert

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his son's legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert remembers the death of his son, Gerald Levert

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his time with his son, Gerald Levert

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his sons' suffering

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert talks about his faith

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Eddie Levert remembers meeting and marrying Raquel Capelton

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Eddie Levert remembers his recovery from a broken foot

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Eddie Levert talks about his family's response to his second marriage

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his life

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Eddie Levert describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Eddie Levert talks about the emergence of white R and B musicians

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Eddie Levert talks about authentic rhythm and blues music

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his career and plans for the future

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Eddie Levert reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

7$1

DATitle
Eddie Levert describes the formation of The Triumphs
Eddie Levert remembers meeting Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff
Transcript
So you go to junior high school, right (simultaneous)?$$ (Simultaneous) Yes.$$And then what is that?$$ Junior high school is now Canton [Ohio], McKinley High School. That's the ninth grade (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So--$$Canton McKinley is known for--$$So elementary [J.J. Burns School, Canton, Ohio] went up to eighth grade?$$ Yes, absolutely, absolutely. As soon as you got out of eighth grade you went on up to the ninth grade. At that time, you know, that was an achievement. And so I went from there to ninth grade, me and Walter [Walter Williams]. And this is how we finally got to meet each other, through semester exams. We, we're--the exams--it's time to take the year end exams, and so you only go to school half a day. So we would go to school and we would do that. And so every now and then everybody would hang out in the hallways, you know, after the class was over. And so we're standing down there and, you know, people were just singing. And so the hallways had these--these big hallways would echo. It sounded like you were in an echo chamber. And so we started singing and we liked the way we sounded in those hallways--myself, Walt Williams, Billy Isles [Bill Isles], William Powell, and Bobby Massey. And we get to sing, and we like it. And we call ourselves The Emeralds. But then we find out somebody else is named The Emeralds, and so we call ourselves, now we call ourselves The Triumphs. But everybody, now everybody wanted to call us The Tramps (laughter). So, I'm, you know, it's like we go to--we go from there, we go from there to--we're coming from the park one day and we're singing. And there's this store in the neighborhood called Gervasis, and they're Greek. And we're singing coming past the store, and that's the neighborhood store where everybody shops at. And their son comes out and he hears us singing and he says, "Do you guys know anybody that sings?" And we look at him like, "Duh, what was we just doing? We sing, yeah." He said, "Well, I got some songs, and I want to see if you guys know anybody who could sing them?" We said, "Yeah we can sing them." So, he started--he invited us in the store and played the songs for us. And we started, and he started rehearsing us on this song.$$Now, who is this?$$ His name was Lee Gervasis [ph.]. He was, he was the son of the guy that owned the store.$$Now had he--$$ And everybody shopped at that store.$$--had he written the songs? Or what--$$ No. He and the guy was, his name was Andy Andretti [ph.]. And he and this guy was writing songs together.$--Theater [Apollo Theater, New York, New York], and we're with The Intruders, and Gamble and Huff [HistoryMaker Kenny Gamble and HistoryMaker Leon Huff] is coming up to see them. And The Intruders say, "Well, we want you to meet Gamble and Huff." So they introduced us to them, and they said they wanted to hear us. They wanted to see us perform in a nightclub. So we were performing in a place called the, in Akron [Ohio] called--I can't think of the club. But anyway, I'll think of it. We were performing in Akron. They decide they're going to come down and catch us in Akron. They see us in Akron and they decide that they like us, you know, and they want to record us, okay. We go down there and we make an agreement. They, they, we sign the contract and all of that good stuff. At that time, you know, I'm really, you know, I'm struggling, I got the kids. Me and Martha [Levert's first wife, Martha Levert], we're married and we got this house I'm renting. I'm almost what? So, you know, I'm paying--I'm making a hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. So, we do this song. We do this song, 'Deeper (In Love)' ['Deeper (In Love With You)']. It's pretty good, it gets on the charts. And then we do another one called Looky Looky Here ['Looky Looky'] or something like that. And what happens there is that Leonard Chess--now Chess Records [Chicago, Illinois] is now distributing Gamble and Huff's music. Okay, now Leonard Chess dies and now their contract runs out and nobody wants it. And so after Leonard Chess dies, they pay nobody. They don't pay Gamble and Huff, they don't pay The O'Jays. They keep all the money. And so, everybody's disgruntled now. Gamble and Huff is disgruntled, and we're disgruntled with them because we ain't getting no money. So, "Look, man, we're done. We're going back home, and until y'all get our money, we're done." Okay, we come back home. At this, during this time, though, the 'Deeper (In Love)'s and all of these things have been chart (hiccups)--chart records.

Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr.

Rhythm and Blues Singer Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr. was born on September 4, 1942, in Atlanta, Georgia. Knight’s mother, Elizabeth Woods-Knight, was a nurse’s aide, and his father, Merald Knight, Sr., was a restaurant supervisor. Knight’s parents were also singers in the Wings Over Jordan gospel choir. In 1952, at the young age of ten, he and his sisters, Gladys and Brenda, and cousins William and Elenor, formed the musical group the Pips. Knight would go on to graduate from Samuel Archer High School in Atlanta in 1960.

Performing as a singer, Knight and the Pips, along with new members Edward Patten and Langston George, began touring with Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke in the late 1950s as an opening act. In 1961, the Pips produced their first R & B Top-20 hit with a version of Johnny Otis’s Every Beat of My Heart. Then, in 1966, the Pips signed to Motown’s subsidiary, Soul records. The group released their major hit single, I Heard It Through the Grapevine in 1967. Hits that followed included 1968’s The Nitty Gritty, 1969’s Friendship Train, 1970’s If I Were Your Woman, 1971’s I Don’t Want To Do Wrong, and the 1973 Grammy Award-winning Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye). In 1973, the Pips left Motown and signed with Buddah records. Their first album with Buddah was Imagination, which would become their best-selling album. Imagination included the 1974 Grammy-winning song Midnight Train to Georgia. Gladys Knight and the Pips continued to produce hits until 1989, when Gladys decided to leave the group.

Knight has received many awards and honors while involved with Gladys Knight and the Pips. The group has been honored with four Grammy Awards and seven American Music Awards. In 1989, the Pips were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and in 1996, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Pips received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1998. In 2001, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and, in 2006, the Pips were inducted into the Apollo Theater's Hall of Fame in New York.

Knight is married to Kathleen C. A. Knight, and they live in Henderson, Nevada.

Bubba Knight was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 28, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.244

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/28/2013 |and| 11/20/2013

Last Name

Knight

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Woodrow

Occupation
Schools

Samuel Archer High School

Las Vegas School of Real Estate

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

English Avenue Elementary School

Henry McNeal Turner High School

First Name

Merald

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

KNI02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

You've Gotta Wanna.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Nevada

Birth Date

9/4/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Las Vegas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

R & B singer Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. (1942 - ) was a performer and founding member of Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares his childhood memories of his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls his childhood memories of his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his mother and her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his older sister, Brenda Knight

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the places he lived during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his sister Gladys' performance on Ted Mack's "Original Amateur Hour"

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his school and the support his sister, Gladys Knight, received from his teacher's sister, Ruth Hall Hodges

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares his memories of his family singing

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about listening to his sister's performance on "The Original Amateur Hour" and the formation of "The Pips"

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about forming "The Pips" and the prize his sister, Gladys Knight, received for winning "The Original Amateur Hour"

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about The Pips' first performance and winning a weekend engagement at the Royal Peacock in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls naming the group "The Pips" in honor of his cousin, James "Pip" Woods

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes performing at the Royal Peacock in Atlanta, Georgia when he was around eleven years old

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls The Pips' first performance and taking lessons from Maurice King in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls working with Maurice King and The Pips' first recording in 1958

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the changing lineup of The Pips in 1959

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls the solos that each member of The Pips sang in their original lineup

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about some of the songs The Pips performed and the groups that inspired them

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls recording Johnny Otis' "Every Beat of My Heart" in 1961

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes signing with Fury Records and recording a second version of "Every Beat of My Heart"

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls the success of "Every Beat of My Heart" and Glady's Knight's departure from the group

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes performing at the Apollo Theater in New York City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the popularity of the Pips after their performance at the Apollo Theater in New York City, New York

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about Gladys Knight's departure from the Pips

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes recording "Darling" after Gladys Knight's departure from the Pips

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about Gladys Knight's solo recording of "Come See About Me"

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the reunion of Gladys Knight and the Pips and recording "Giving Up"

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes preparing for Gladys Knight and the Pips' second concert at the Apollo Theater in New York City, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about working with Charles "Cholly" Atkins and Charles "Honi" Coles

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes how Gladys Knight and the Pips decided to sign with Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls negotiating their contract with Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the environment at Motown Records when they signed

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his frustrations with Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes recording "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and its success

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about their financial situation at Motown Records

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about leaving Motown Records, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about leaving Motown Records, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Second slating of Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr.'s interview

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes performing with Moms Mabley at the Apollo Theater in New York City, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the Jewel Box Revue and gay performers in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience working with choreographer Charles "Cholly" Atkins

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the Pips' early manager, Marguerite Mays

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience with Bobby Robinson and Fats Lewis at Fury Records

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about meeting Marshall Sehorn and Bobby Robinson of Fury Records and performing for the first time at the Apollo Theater

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about not getting paid royalties for his early records

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes meeting Floyd Lieberman and Sid Seidenberg while recording with Maxx Records, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes meeting Floyd Lieberman and Sid Seidenberg while recording with Maxx Records, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes leaving Maxx Records to record for Motown Records in 1966

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes how Floyd Lieberman and Sid Seidenberg protected their business interests

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience with Motown Records prior to working with Norman Whitfield

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about their booking agencies and performing at the Copacabana in New York City, New York

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about rehearsing with Charlie "Cholly" Atkins at Motown Records

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his relationship with Charles "Cholly" Atkins

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about Charles "Cholly" Atkins' experience at Motown Records, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about Charles "Cholly" Atkins' experience at Motown Records, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls when Paul Williams created the "Temptation Walk

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his business role within Gladys Knight and the Pips

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes leaving Motown Records for Buddah Records in 1973

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about other artists who left Motown Records

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the group's decision to sign with Buddah Records in 1973

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls Motown Records' move to California in 1972

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls discovering the Jackson Five while performing at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes working with Norman Whitfield and the hit songs he recorded at Motown Records

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls recording "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" with Motown Records in 1967

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls receiving constructive criticism from HistoryMakers Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes appearing on the first syndicated episode of Soul Train in 1971

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls the songs that Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded for Motown Records

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes how Motown Records and Fury Records managed songwriting credit and ownership

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes recording "Where Peaceful Waters Flow" for Buddah Records and working with Jim Weatherly

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes recording "Midnight Train to Georgia" in 1973

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls the producers and artists at Buddah Records

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his experience at Buddah Records

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his managers and producers at Buddah Records

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes winning two Grammy Awards in 1974

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the "Gladys Knight and the Pips Show" on NBC

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about Sid Seidenberg and the group's international success after 1974

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the group's lawyer, Irwin Spiegel Osher

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the financial conflicts between Gladys Knight and the Pips and their second breakup in 1978

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes Gladys Knight's solo career and the reunion of Gladys Knight and the Pips at Columbia Records in 1980

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience recording for Columbia Records

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about working with Sam Dees at Columbia Records

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about recording "Hero", commonly known as "Wind Beneath My Wings", for Columbia Records, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about recording "Hero", commonly known as "Wind Beneath My Wings", for Columbia Records, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes leaving Columbia Records and signing with MCA Records, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes leaving Columbia Records and signing with MCA Records, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the third time that Gladys Knight and the Pips broke up in 1989

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience ending the group while at a high point in their career

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. reflects on the success of Gladys Knight and the Pips, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. reflects on the success of Gladys Knight and the Pips, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. reflects on his goals after Gladys Knight and the Pips broke up and his marriage to Kathleen Knight

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes how he met his wife, Kathleen Knight

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his first marriage to Kathleen Knight

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his divorce from Kathleen Knight, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes moving to Los Angeles and getting his real estate license after divorcing Kathleen Knight

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes reuniting with his ex-wife, Kathleen Knight, after fifteen years

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his second marriage proposal and wedding to Kathleen Knight

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his parents, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his parents, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes moving his extended family into a compound in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about introducing humor into his live performances

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls performing with his sister, Gladys Knight, at the White House

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes performing with his sister, Gladys Knight, on her solo tours

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the importance of family

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes the musical directors who worked with him and his sister

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares a story about his fellow Pip, Edward Patten

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares a story about his fellow Pip, William Guest

Tape: 13 Story: 11 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the loyalty of the Pips and the integrity of the Pips name

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls being offered a chance for the Pips to sing backup to James Brown

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about the career of HistoryMaker B.B. King

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. talks about his favorite venues in Las Vegas, Nevada and performing in "Smokey Joe's Cafe"

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience performing in "Smokey Joe's Cafe", pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his experience performing in "Smokey Joe's Cafe", pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. recalls recording "If I Could Bring Back Yesterday"

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. describes his plans for the future

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares his thoughts on the music industry today

Tape: 14 Story: 9 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. shares his opinion about casual use of the "N" word

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. reflects on the contributions of African Americans to American music

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Merald "Bubba" Knight, Jr. reflects upon his legacy

Fatin Dantzler

Singer and songwriter Fatin Dantzler was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1973. Dantzler attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) before transferring to Overbrook High School. Dantzler began his musical career in the early 1990s as a performer with a group called "Side by Side." He also became a producer and songwriter, contributing to the 1993 album by R&B pop stars "Bell Biv DeVoe." Dantzler left "Side by Side" to pursue songwriting and producing opportunities and later becoming affiliated with burgeoning Philadelphia hip-hop group "The Roots." In 1997, Dantzler met his future wife and musical collaborator Aja Graydon and two years later, they went on to form an R&B and Soul music duo called "Kindred the Family Soul." After being discovered by Jill Scott at a Philadelphia music showcase, "Kindred" signed a recording contract with Hidden Beach Recordings (HBR) in 2001. In March of 2003, the group released its first studio album titled, Surrender to Love, which peaked to seven and twenty nine on the Billboard Heatseekers and R&B albums’ charts, respectively. Two years later, the duo released their second studio album, In This Life Together, which climbed to number fifteen on the Billboard R&B chart. In 2006, Kindred’s song "My Time" was named the official song of the National Education Association’s Read Across America campaign. Kindred then released The Arrival, its third album on Hidden Beach, in 2008. The album rose to number seven on the Billboard R&B albums’ chart. The duo released its fourth album Love Has No Recession in 2011, which rose to number nineteen and fifteen on the R&B and Independent Albums’ charts, respectively. The group also launched a web-based reality television show in 2010.

Dantzler and his wife, Aja Graydon, have garnered critical acclaim with their work as "Kindred the Family Soul." In 2003, the duo garnered a Soul Train nomination. Three years later, the group was nominated for a BET Award. They have worked with Grammy Award-winning recording artists like Jill Scott, The Roots and Snoop Dogg. Dantzler and Graydon reside in Philadelphia and have six children.

FatinDantzler was interviewed by the The HistoryMakers on May 22, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.102

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/22/2012

Last Name

Dantzler

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Overbrook High School

Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)

Rudolph S. Walton School

Dean Rusk Elementary School

Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High School

First Name

Fatin

Birth City, State, Country

Camden

HM ID

DAN06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New Jersey

Favorite Vacation Destination

France

Favorite Quote

Keep It 100.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

12/7/1973

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

R & B singer and songwriter Fatin Dantzler (1973 - ) was best known along with his singing partner and wife, Aja Graydon, as the critically acclaimed R&B and Soul music group, Kindred the Family Soul.

Employment

Kindred the Family Soul

Self Employed

Media Shack

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Fatin Dantzler's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his relationship with his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler describes his relationship with his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler describes how his mother met his father and stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his stepfather's incarceration

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Fatin Dantzler describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler descries the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler recalls his early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his early experiences in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler describes his schooling, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler describes his schooling, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Fatin Dantzler describes his experiences of discrimination as a Muslim

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Fatin Dantzler remembers H. Rap Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Fatin Dantzler recalls the music of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Fatin Dantzler remembers moving to Alabama with his stepfather and brother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler remembers the aftermath of his stepfather's arrest

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler talks about Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler remembers his classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler remembers his musical mentor, George Williams III

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler recalls his expulsion from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler remembers his music teacher, George E. Allen

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his performances at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler recalls writing for Bell Biv DeVoe's 'Hootie Mack'

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Fatin Dantzler remembers his first gold record

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Fatin Dantzler remembers his work with LaFace Records in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler describes his songwriting work in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler talks about his early work with The Roots

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler remembers meeting and marrying Aja Graydon

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler talks about the Black Lily showcase

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler remembers forming Kindred the Family Soul

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler remembers the Black Lily showcase, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler remembers the Black Lily showcase, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler talks about the early performances of Kindred the Family Soul

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler remembers signing a contract with Hidden Beach Recordings

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler describes Kindred the Family Soul's first album, 'Surrender to Love'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler remembers recording the album, 'Surrender to Love'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler recalls shooting the music video for 'Far Away'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler remembers Kindred the Family Soul's first tour

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler talks about the accomplishments of Kindred the Family Soul

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler talks about the album, 'In This Life Together'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler remembers reuniting the Black Lily

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Fatin Dantzler talks about the song, 'My Time'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Fatin Dantzler remembers the birth of his twin daughters

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler describes his family's reality web series, 'Six Is It'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Fatin Dantzler talks about balancing his family and career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Fatin Dantzler remembers Kenny Gamble

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Fatin Dantzler reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Fatin Dantzler reflects upon Kindred the Family Soul's discography

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Fatin Dantzler describes his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Fatin Dantzler describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Fatin Dantzler reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Fatin Dantzler reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Fatin Dantzler describes his children

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Fatin Dantzler describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Fatin Dantzler remembers meeting and marrying Aja Graydon
Fatin Dantzler talks about his performances at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Transcript
Nineteen ninety-seven [1997] you met Aja.$$I did.$$All right, this is your wife, [HistoryMaker] Aja Graydon.$$Um-hm.$$And, tell us how did--you all met and what happened.$$Well, I met Aja, I went to New York [New York]--there was a loft that The Roots had at the time where they were doing a lot of their production and jam sessions and things like that. And, they had--I guess, Aja had reached out to them or her record label at the time had reached out to them about writing some songs for her. So, she had come to town to, you know, check them out and see what their production and things like that was. And, they brought me up. When I got there she was there with another guy, it was this other guy, Eugene [Eugene Hanes], I believe his name was Eugene, and he was there to help her to write the songs that the--her label had sent. But, I was like The Roots' guy. You know, like The Roots felt comfortable with me being the guy to help her out with the songs. So, that was kind of a little conflict. There was also this thing like where the dude had written like some risque song for another artist, which we definitely did not see Aja going in that directions. And, so, we were all kind of concerned. "Well, do y'all want him to write one of them kind of of songs for her because that ain't gonna even fly on The Roots production," which was weird, you know. Again, not disrespecting him in any way because, you know, he, he made his money, he did his things, and you know, he got a hit song. But, it definitely was not the kind of hit that I felt like this girl, who could really sing, who was really awesome, would be into. But, I, so I, when I got there again, I, I remember she sang a Donny Hathaway song or something like that, and I might've sang a Donny Hathaway song. And, you know, we just had a mutual respect for each other's voice immediately, and we kind of hit it off. And, I don't know what happened with Eugene, but somehow he got filtered out. And, she just started coming to Philly [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] and New York, and Philly and New York, and Philly and New York, and we just started working on songs for her and her project. And, kind of one thing led to another and we started liking each other, you know what I mean. And, you know, of course, we have both been in those kinds of situations before. You know, you work in close proximity with people, males and females, somebody gonna like somebody, you know what I mean. But, it was more than just liking her when we really started to realize how much we had in common and how similarly we thought about so many different things and just, we was connected. And, we were connecting a lot more than the music was connecting. And, I think that we were both in similar places in our life, as well, that we had been music for quite some time, even though we were young people, and had not had the success of the music that maybe we had thought we going to have by that time in our careers. And, again, even though we were young, we had been doing it and been around stuff and people and da, da, da, da. And, we connected from there and it was just like, well, maybe music is not what's going to take us where we gonna go. And, we started thinking about our relationship and hooking up and like the seriousness of that. And, like, maybe you--we're just on this path to meet each other kind of thing and get together. And, then we'll be a collective and then we gonna retire the music and just get the picket fence and get a regular job and start raising some kids, you know. 'Cause mom [Delica Dantzler Sulaiman] always use to say, you know, not just her mom [Susan Knox Graydon] or my mom or whatever, just, "You might need a regular job," you know, that whole thing, that music might not wa- work out, you know. Those kinds of things were always in the back of your mind. And, so, because, I think our love and our affection for one another and as well as this connection was so strong, it was so strong that it made us feel like, you know what, "Let's think about us and stop thinking about this music so much." And, we put our music on the backburner and got married. And, I got a regular job. And, started leaving music alone. I really thought that we were, I don't know if I thought completely we were leaving it behind or we were abandoning it--abandoning it or something. But, it was just like, the purpose of life felt like it shifted to family life at that time, you know what I mean. And, it wasn't as hard to say goodbye to it as I thought that it was going to be for that time. And, we rolled with that, and we had a son [Aquil Dantzler]. And, like I said, I started--and we got married, had a son, and I started working a regular job, you know, selling appliances (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, what is it--what did you do? You said, you sold appliances?$$I--yeah, I was, I was an appliance salesman. I end up being a manager at an appliance store. It was called American Appliance [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. You know, the funny thing is it's right down the street from this business that we're in today [Media Shack, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], you know. Less than about a mile or two down the road. And, all here of businesses (laughter), they've all been on this block. So, it's so interesting to me like the other part of my life, you know, where I have to have another business outside of music in some way, you know. Not have to, but I do, you know. And, I've had stores, and now I have this place. And, but, they've all been on that road to Amer- towards American Appliance (laughter).$$So, what, when did you all get married? Nineteen--$$Nineteen ninety-eight [1998], September, 1998 we got married.$So you were focused on music completely; and when it was time to graduate, was there anything significant that happened in school at Overbrook [Overbrook High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] that you were a part of before we graduate you?$$Significant what like--well, yeah. I mean at, my first show (laughter) at Overbrook was a talent show and I sang (laughter), I sang 'I Wanna Sex You Up' by Color Me Badd. And (laughter), I came out on stage, I had a little cane and a nice suit on and I went to sing and all of the girls went crazy, and it was like, this is it. I'm not going backwards. I ain't playing that saxophone. I ain't playing the clarinet. Nothing el- I'm just--I'm a singer. I know I can do this. This is it, you know. And, I went to school not too long ago to do a career day or something like that. And, was talking to the kids from that stage and just telling them, you know, that feeling. It's just like I cannot believe that this was the training ground for everything that I'm doing now, you know what I mean. And, it was this moment here that made me have the conf- or that gave me the confidence to do this. And, it was like, from here on out, like, I'm going to do this, and I know it. And, that was my first time performing (background noise) as me, you know, like in front of everybody. Like not in a group, not on a cho- you know, in a choir, and my voice can be low and you don't hear me da, da, da, da, it's like, it's all me. And, everybody's focused on what I was doing. It was just a great feeling. And, then later I would sing, 'It's Written All Over Your Face' ['Written All Over Your Face'] by The Rude Boys another time. And, you know, some of my other guys did--the musicians and stuff and we would play and go and do other high schools and stuff and put on our little show. And, then all the girls would go crazy and we would be singing the popular hits of the day and (laughter), it was, it was nice. It was, it was a good time.$$Okay (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Good times.$$So, were you were in a group in high school?$$I wasn't in a group, per se, but there was a group of musicians who were, who was around me, Little John Robert [sic. Lil' John Roberts], Jermaine Childs, and Damon Bennett, and Lawrence Pitchburg [ph.], and Alfonzo Jones [ph.], and Hayward Hamilton, not Hayward Hamilton; Hayward [ph.], I can't think of Hayward's last name, I'm sorry. But, just different guys that was real good and you know, they would play the music and we would go around. But, we wasn't concentra- like, we weren't a name or a band. It was just, we was a group of guys who just really liked what we did. And, whenever we could find someplace to do or rehearse and practice, and da, da, da, and then show people what we was doing, we would do that. It just, it's kind of like jamming, you know, just jamming together. We like to jam together.$$Okay.$$I didn't get to a group 'til a little later on.$$Did you consider going to college?$$I venture to say, not venture, no, I did not think of going to college. I think that by the time, by the time I was graduating high school, I was hell bent on music, music, music, music, music. I didn't think I needed anything else. I really didn't think I needed anything else because it felt as if I was making it already. And, you know, you go to college, or what it seemed like at that time, you go to college so you can get a degree so you can go make it. And, I'm like, "Look, I'm already making it," you know. That's what it felt like at that time, you know. Unbeknownst to me how much time that goes in between the time of you making it, you know what I mean. And, different skillsets that you might've needed to have to fall back on in case things don't work out that I would have done differently, possibly now, if I had it to do over.

Reverend Dr. Mable John

R&B singer Mable John was born on November 3, 1930 in Bastrop, Louisiana to Mertis and Lillian John. As the eldest of ten children, John began singing with her siblings as a child, putting on programs and singing traditional gospel tunes while her mother played the guitar. John and her family moved to Arkansas, where her brother, the legendary singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, William “Little Willie” John was born. The family later moved to Detroit, Michigan. Inspired by her brother’s success in the music industry, John started substituting for R&B singer Etta James as the opening act for “Little Willie” John’s show when he came to town. In 1956, she worked as a secretary at the Friendship Mutual Insurance Company where her supervisor was Bertha Gordy, mother of the Motown music founder Berry Gordy.

In 1958, John became the first female artist on Gordy’s new label Tamla. Although her first song, “Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like That”, did not make the pop charts, it established John as a popular live performer. She sold out shows at the Apollo Theater in New York City and The Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. In 1965, John decided to change labels and signed with Stax Records where she believed her sound was more appropriate.

John’s first song under the Stax label, “Your Good This (Is About to End)” soared to number six on the R&B charts in the summer of 1966, and the following year, she released the single, “Same Time, Same Place”. In 1968, John’s brother William “Little Willie” John died in prison from unknown causes. Subsequently, John went into a deep depression. It was not until 1970, when Ray Charles offered her a job as the musical director of the Raelettes, that John continued her musical career. John was the co-writer of fifty songs for Ray Charles before leaving his organization in 1977. She then became the pastor and founder of Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles, California in 1986. John earned her doctorate in divinity from the Crenshaw Christian Center in 1993 and, in 1994, she was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

John lives in Los Angeles, California and has five adult children.

John was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 7, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.326

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/7/2007

Last Name

John

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Lafayette School

Duffield Elementary School

Pershing High School

Chicago School of Nursing

Crenshaw Montessori Academy

University of California, Los Angeles

First Name

Mable

Birth City, State, Country

Bastrop

HM ID

JOH33

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii, Venice, Italy

Favorite Quote

By George, Let God Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/3/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salad, Seafood

Short Description

R & B singer, pastor, and songwriter Reverend Dr. Mable John (1930 - ) was the first female artist on Berry Gordy’s new label Tamla in 1958. She later signed with Stax Records, and had success with songs like "Same Time, Same Place." John went on to cowrite fifty songs for Ray Charles from 1970 to 1977. She was the pastor and founder of Joy in Jesus Ministries in Los Angeles, California.

Employment

Tamla Records; Motown Records

Stax Records

Joy in Jesus, Inc.

Fourth House Music Publishing

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
0,0:732,13:3782,46:10650,111:11370,125:15000,160:15927,171:24400,272:36050,406:47273,624:52058,737:59690,811:61184,842:62180,909:66198,956:67974,994:83098,1242:83454,1247:87815,1338:99680,1445:101770,1502:104240,1534:112005,1621:114705,1687:118760,1738:120335,1760:130844,1895:131792,1910:134399,1957:134715,1962:136453,2006:140428,2040:141036,2051:141796,2063:142100,2068:171989,2508:172321,2513:183356,2641:192150,2835$0,0:1408,36:17093,323:20250,406:20558,416:20866,421:21251,427:24408,496:31044,537:31412,542:34264,598:55548,909:67138,1088:78615,1252:87015,1374:88815,1444:102159,1590:115620,1734
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Mable John's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her mother's cooking

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes the community of Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers the itinerant workers in Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers lessons from her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes segregation in Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers the Lafayette School in Cullendale, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her father's discipline

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her early musical influences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls the importance of music during her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her family's decision to move to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her experiences in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Pershing High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls her family dynamics

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her aspiration to become a nurse

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her first marriage, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her first marriage, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her first husband's gambling addiction

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls working as a nurse in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her and her brother's early singing careers

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers meeting Berry Gordy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers opening for Billie Holiday

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls the mentorship of Billie Holiday and Ruth Brown

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers signing a contract with Tamla Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers touring with Etta James

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers touring with Little Willie John

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers transitioning to Stax Records

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Otis Redding's death

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her brother's incarceration and death

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her decision to leave the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her second marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls negotiating her contract with Ray Charles, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls negotiating her contract with Ray Charles, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes Ray Charles' work ethic

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about her work in music publishing

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers Ray Charles

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about the Fourth House Music Company and Joy in Jesus, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers her calling to the ministry

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John recalls leaving The Raelettes

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her career as a minister and author

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about the movie 'Ray'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her advice to young people

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Mable John describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her values

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Mable John reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Mable John shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

4$4

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Mable John talks about Little Willie John's start in the music industry, pt. 2
Reverend Dr. Mable John remembers joining The Raelettes, pt. 2
Transcript
Willie stood right there, waited 'til the red light went off and went in there, on the break, and stood in the back. And, he heard Titus Turner, who wrote 'All Around the World,' singing and he was trying to make a run and Syd kept telling 'em, said, "We want you to do a certain thing when you get ready to say, grits ain't groceries and Mona Lisa was a man." And, Willie was listening to Titus trying to make that run. So, while the break was going on, Willie walked down and said, "I'm Little Willie John and I'm here to see to Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "Sir," talking to Syd--talking to Titus Turner, "Are you trying to make a run that sounds like--," and Willie just sung the song.$$(Laughter).$$And, Titus Turner looked at him and said, "You know my song?" He said, "Well, I heard you singing it as I was standing back there waiting to talk to Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "Do you know the whole song?" He said, "Well, I know what I heard you sing." He said, "Sing it." So, at that time you know, everybody's in the studio together, the musicians--$$All the--everybody, everybody got quiet now (laughter).$$Everybody's quiet, but all the--everybody is together.$$Right.$$'Cause they didn't, you didn't do--$$There were no booths.$$No. So, they started the music and he did it in his key, did all the runs. He told--and, so, Syd--Titus told Syd, "Let's record him doing it." He said, "Well, I came here for a contract with Mr. Syd Nathan." He said, "I wrote the song and this is Syd Nathan." And, he said, "What do you say Syd?" He said, "Well, let's, let's have lunch and we'll bring--we'll see if he can do it." And, that was history.$$So, he went and took a record deal?$$He took a record deal.$$(Laughter).$$Called me on the phone, said, "Meet me at the airport. Pick me up." Willie got off the, off the plane in shorts and the demo in his hand, like big like the 78s [78 rpm record], and walked off the plane. Not coming inside the airport 'cause at that time they didn't, you didn't get off on the inside. Coming down the steps, "I told you I wouldn't be back until I got a hit record."$$Wow, as he told his big sister. Now, big sister had to make the phone call.$$Well, I had to make to phone call when he left home to say, "Willie decided that he was just gonna go on to New York [New York] and make it."$$And, what happened then? What was the comments from your father [Mertis John, Sr.]?$$Well, Willie was a boy. He wasn't me. And, everybody knew what Willie wanted to do. And, my dad didn't say very much of anything. So, when he got back home, they found Harry Balk and Frank Glussman and he became, they, they became Willie's manager and my dad left his job at Dodge Main [Dodge Factory, Hamtramck, Michigan] and went on the road with Willie--$$So, now (simultaneous)--$$--(simultaneous) until he, until he became a man.$When I got to Detroit [Michigan], I told my mother [Lillie Robinson John]. I said, "Guess who's been calling me?" She said, "Who?" I said, "Ray Charles." She said, "Well, what did he want?" I said, "He wants me to help find him a lead singer for The Raelettes. He says he doesn't have a lead singer." And, she said, "Well, what did you tell him?" I said, "I don't know anybody I would recommend to him." I said, "If they don't work out," I said, "my name would be mud with him." I said, "Now, he doesn't have this number but if he calls just tell him I'm not in, or anything." She said, "Well, you know I'm not gonna lie." I said, "Well, tell him something." I said, "Just don't give me the phone." Do you know the man called me one morning early, I was asleep. She brought the phone in the bedroom to me and put the receiver to my ear and said, "Mable [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Mable John], Mable awake up, telephone." And, before I opened my eyes to see the phone, she said, "It's Ray Charles on the phone." And, I opened my eyes and I said, "Didn't I tell you--?" And, he finished my sentence. He said, "I'm sorry darling, I know you told her you didn't wanna talk to me. But I got to talk to you."$$(Laughter).$$"I need a lead singer." I said, "I cannot find you anyone. I don't know anybody with your kind of sound. And the way you sound, I would not give you anybody that couldn't do what you want them to do." He said, "How do you know what I want them to do?" I said, "I know how you sound." I said, "I've been listening to you for years. I don't know anybody that could duplicate your sound." He said, "Well, is it all right if I just call you one more time?" And I said, "Yes, but the answer is probably gonna be the same."

Harry Elston

R&B singer Harry James Elston was born on November 4, 1938 in Dallas, Texas to the musical family of Ernestine Cooksey and Leonard David Elston, Sr. Elston grew up in San Diego, California and attended Midway Elementary School and Point Loma High School. Elston began his career in the music industry around the ages of sixteen or seventeen with the Johnny Otis Caravan. Elston and the group he was in, Cel Foster and The Audios, came to San Diego to a talent search. The group was chosen for the Johnny Otis Caravan, which included other musical acts like Etta James and Jacki Kelso. By age twenty-five, Elston began working as the limousine driver for The Temptations. In 1963, Elston formed a R&B group called the Hi Fi’s with Lamonte McLemore, Floyd Butler and ex-Miss California Bronze Talent Award winner, Marilyn McCoo. As a member of the Hi Fi’s, Elston sang at local night clubs while taking lessons from a vocal coach. The Hi Fi’s came to the attention of Ray Charles in 1964, and the following year, he decided to take the group on tour with him. Ray Charles went on to produce the group’s single “Lonesome Mood”. In 1966, due to internal disagreements, Elston and Floyd Butler decided to depart from the Hi Fi’s and along with Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Jean Love they formed the Friends of Distinction.

Originally, Elston came up with the name Distinctive Friends, but Barbara Jean Love decided to reverse the words. In 1968, Hall of Fame football player Jim Brown met the group and introduced them to the staff at RCA Records. In 1969, Friends of Distinction released their first album entitled Grazin’ on RCA Records. The album included the songs “Grazing in the Grass”, of which Elston wrote and sang lead on, and “Going in Circles.” Grazin’ peaked at number five on the R&B charts. “Going in Circles” preceded the album, and it landed at number three on the charts. Friends of Distinction also released the songs “Love or Let Me Be Lonely”, “Time Waits for No One” and “I Need You.” When Barbara Jean Love became pregnant in 1970, Charlene Gibson replaced the vocalist, and the Friends of Distinction released Real Friends on RCA Records. Another change in Friends of Distinction occurred when Jessica Cleaves decided to leave the group and joined the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire.

During the 1960s, Elston was also a prominent figure in the urban night life. Alongside, Jim Brown and John Daniels, Elston was instrumental in opening the Mavericks Flat, a well-known L.A. night club that is often referred to as the Apollo Theater of the west coast. In addition, Elston was instrumental in the formation of the N.I.E.U. (Negro Industrial and Economic Union). In 1992, Elston was co-writer of “It’s Over,” a single for Friends of Distinction. The current members of the group are Dorian Holley, Wendy Smith Brune, Berlando Drake and Harry Elston.

Elston lives in Studio City, California and Henderson, Nevada.

Elston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 6, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.325

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Elston

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Point Loma High School

Midway Elementary School

Dana Middle School

First Name

Harry

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

ELS01

Favorite Season

Thanksgiving

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Idlewild, Michigan

Favorite Quote

Ain't Nuttin'.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/4/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

R & B singer and songwriter Harry Elston (1938 - ) co-founded the R & B group, Friends of Distinction. Some of the group's hits include "Love or Let Me Be Lonely," "Time Waits for No One" and "Going in Circles." Elston also co-founded the Mavericks Flat, a well-known L.A. night club, and the Negro Industrial and Economic Union.

Employment

US Air Force

Kaiser Permanente

The Friends of Distinction

The Hi-Fi's

The Magic Cookie Company

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:19888,302:20293,308:20617,313:22561,362:29203,516:30904,550:37523,577:37911,582:54355,782:61831,895:70946,1036:71474,1043:73938,1094:74906,1110:96998,1466:100100,1513:100570,1519:107560,1601:108596,1615:113026,1664:139320,2051:147379,2180:153355,2328:153853,2336:159078,2341:160706,2353:163996,2375:164512,2385:168038,2498:170876,2606:171220,2615:173940,2623$0,0:2812,55:3420,63:4028,93:33500,467:34605,487:37356,515:44046,631:49707,726:64481,911:65225,921:66248,944:69368,966:69748,972:72870,1009:73320,1019:74130,1032:74580,1038:87194,1191:96302,1302:97226,1318:102686,1453:103274,1461:155081,2281:155437,2286:161118,2331:162918,2371:163278,2377:164214,2398:167382,2465:167814,2472:168102,2477:171440,2504
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry Elston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harry Elston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Elston describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes his stepmother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry Elston describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harry Elston describes his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harry Elston lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Harry Elston describes his neighborhood in San Diego, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Harry Elston describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Harry Elston remembers Midway Elementary School in San Diego, California

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Harry Elston recalls his early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls playing sports as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers the Bethel Baptist Church in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes Dana Junior High School in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls his early singing experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes the Point Loma neighborhood of San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harry Elston describes his peers at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Diego, California

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harry Elston remembers performing with The Belvederes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers recording with Cell Foster and the Audios

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Harry Elston remembers the music community in California

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Harry Elston remembers the popular hairstyles of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harry Elston remembers straightening his hair

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harry Elston describes the Five Four Ballroom in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harry Elston recalls joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harry Elston remembers being stationed in Seattle, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harry Elston recalls his assignment to Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harry Elston recalls his arrest in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his discharge from the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers Oakland, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls working for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers living with Lamonte McLemore

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harry Elston recalls his friends in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harry Elston remembers founding the Hi-Fi's

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harry Elston recalls singing in Los Angeles Clubs with the Hi-Fi's

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harry Elston remembers touring with Ray Charles

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes The Hi-Fi's vocal training

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harry Elston recalls being arrested with his bandmates, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harry Elston recalls being arrested with his bandmates, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes the formation of the Versatiles

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls founding The Friends of Distinction

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes the Negro Industrial and Economic Union

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harry Elston recalls serving as a driver for The Temptations

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes the Maverick's Flat club in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harry Elston remembers his experiences at Maverick's Flat

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes his return to The Friends of Distinction

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harry Elston remembers writing the lyrics to 'Grazing in the Grass'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harry Elston recalls signing a contract with RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harry Elston talks about The 5th Dimension

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harry Elston recalls The Friends of Distinction's early hits

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harry Elston remembers meeting Miles Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harry Elston talks about working with RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Harry Elston remembers Earth, Wind, and Fire

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Harry Elston recalls leaving RCA Records

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes the Magic Cookie Company, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Harry Elston describes the Magic Cookie Company, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Harry Elston remembers Floyd Butler's death

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Harry Elston describes The Friends of Distinction reunion

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Harry Elston reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Harry Elston describes his advice to aspiring entertainers

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Harry Elston reflects upon his future

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Harry Elston describes his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Harry Elston reflects upon his values

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Harry Elston describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Harry Elston narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Harry Elston recalls founding The Friends of Distinction
Harry Elston recalls signing a contract with RCA Records
Transcript
So it's 1965 and you've decided to put another little group together, you and Floyd [Floyd Butler] and, and some- who else was in this band?$$Well Clarence McDonald was there, he was our, he was our keyboard player and vocal arranger, and Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Love [Barbara Jean Love]. So thi- about this time this is when we were living over on, on 9th Avenue and Ron Townson [Ronald Townson] was around the corner they was sneaking and singing. And we said, "What they--you know what they doing?" But we just kind of got our little stuff together and, so, so about this time, Jim Brown, Jim had been on the scene. So Jim would come by the house, and he'd hear us singing, and he'd bring Bill Russell would come by there, Fred Williamson, all these cats you know played ball and stuff so Jim would say, "What you gona do man?" I said, "I'm trying to do this." He said, "Well don't just try," he said, "Do it." So okay and Jim said--I said, "Hey (unclear) you gonna have to pay to Clarence McDonald for rehearsal," and we didn't take no money. Okay man, so he would pay Clarence fifty dollars a week.$$So now did Jim Brown decided to be the producer or the?$$Yeah, yeah our manager.$$The investor, okay.$$Yeah, he was, he was checking it out to see how far you know if we was really serious, but you know when you start paying this money (laughter) and you know and I'd have to hound him down to, to get this money you know every now and then, but he would pay, and matter of fact Jim bought me my first Cadillac.$$Okay.$$(Laughter) So--so and then pretty soon he explained that he was starting this production company called the BBC. It stood for Brown, Bloch and Coby. Now Coby [Richard Coby] was a lawyer, a big time lawyer there 9255 Sunset [Boulevard], I'll never forget it. Rogers, Cowan, Paul Bloch was--worked for Rogers, Cowan and Brenner at that time and then of course Jim Brown. So man hey hooked this stuff up and, and we had instant publicity because he worked for Rogers and Cowan, and we would, we would fart and it would be in the papers you know.$$So was there a name of the group at this point? Was there a group name?$$We, we were--once we started P- Paul said, "Well you guys gotta have a name." So I'll never forget we was with Paul's big ole house in Beverly Hills [California] and I came up with Distinctive Friends and then they tossed it around and Barbara came up, "No, we should say Friends of Distinction [The Friends of Distinction]." Bam. That just clicked (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) It rolled better, huh?$$Yeah, it rolled better, and that's how that got started.$So th- there was this club called The Daisy, it was in Beverly Hills [California], and this, this club was the bomb. I mean Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, the Rat Pack and all them cats, Sammy [Sammy Davis, Jr.] and so Jim [Jim Brown] and Paul [Paul Bloch] they set it up for our, our showcase. So we had on these little, we had some bad little outfits some little vests and white shirts and the girls had on what they had on. So we went down and threw down. Man, they loved it. The next day I'm talking to six record companies, and Jim sent me out by myself. Not Floyd [Floyd Butler], and I, I don't know what to say to these people, man. So it was just a vibe thing, it was a vibe thing and after that maybe it was the second, I got a little chesty you know I kind of, yes, uh-huh and (laughter). Hey, we done had six record companies, you must be saying something. So went up to RCA [RCA Records] and there was this guy, his name was John Florez, he was a staff producer, but John was laid back and quiet and stuff, and I liked that demeanor about him. So I--so later on that evening Jimmy said, Jim--his, his favorite word, "What's up big baby?" And I said, "Well man I like, I like RCA. I like John over there." He said, "Hey." So we signed with RCA, now dig it, we--and here's--now at this time Jerry Peters and Clarence McDonald and Greg [Greg Poree] and all these people, you know Skip [Skip Scarborough] we're writing songs, they're writing songs for us and of course 'Grazing' ['Grazing in the Grass'] and man we go (laughter)--this is the scary part. We go--been singing with just the keyboards right, so we go into the studio. It's a booth, and what we're doing is, is you know just laying down stuff so the band you know how it is, get the feel for the stuff, but there's a hundred musicians. Man my little booty tightened up so tight boy, man (laughter) and you know these (demonstrates playing violin) you know what I'm saying and the French horns and the oboes and you know--hey, we did it.$$And they're on the clock.$$On--yeah, aw man a hundred musicians you know.$$And they're on the union clock.$$Hey man, now the arranger, his name is Ray Cork, Jr., and matter-of-fact I, I was gonna look him up in Phoenix [Arizona], 'cause both John and Ray are from Phoenix and I never met him. Never met him, nobody had met him. We never heard his music until we went in the studio, and did that album, and he th- he threw down. To this day people talk about his arrangements man.

James Ingram

R&B vocalist James Ingram was born on February 16, 1952, in Akron, Ohio to Alistine and Henry Ingram. Ingram was interested in music at an early age and became a self-taught musician, inspired by his musical idol, jazz organist Jimmy Smith. In the 1970s, Ingram began performing in the Akron band Revelation Funk under leader John Birkett and alongside Bernard Lawson, Sr. The group opened for the Ohio Players and performed with a variety of other Akron funk bands, including Axis and the Silky Vincent Group.

In 1973, when Ingram was seventeen years old, the group traveled to Los Angeles, California, hoping to find further opportunities to perform. Although the group met with some success, recording the track “Time is on Our Side” for the soundtrack to the film Dolemite, the band was unable to sustain itself, and the group returned to Ohio. Ingram stayed behind, playing music around Los Angeles and eventually performing backup vocals and playing keyboards for Ray Charles. Ingram’s career as a musician began to take off, and in the mid-1970s, he began working as soul artist Leon Haywood’s musical director.

In the late 1970s, Ingram had a reputation for his work as a studio session vocalist in Los Angeles, and soon grabbed the ear of legendary ex-Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier. Dozier offered Ingram the opportunity to contribute vocals and material for some of his releases, and Ingram’s “Love’s Calling” gained some airplay. Another musical legend, composer and musical director, Quincy Jones, heard a demo of Ingram performing a track entitled “Just Once,” and quickly offered the singer the opportunity to perform on his 1980 album The Dude. “Just Once,” re-recorded with Quincy Jones, became Ingram’s first massive hit, winning Ingram Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal and Best R&B Vocal, as well as a nomination for Best New Artist.

Ingram signed to Quincy Jones’s Qwest Records and recorded his own solo material with production work from Jones, and, in 1982, released his first solo single, “One Hundred Ways.” The song reached #14 on the U.S. charts. After co-writing Michael Jackson’s hit “P.Y.T.,” Ingram released his debut album It’s Your Night in 1983, selling 850,000 copies and working with such musical artists as Ray Charles, Michael McDonald, Patti Austin, Anita Baker, Nancy Wilson and Kenny Rogers. Ingram joined another large group of popular artists in performing on the 1985 record “We are the World,” the same year as he was awarded a Grammy Award for his Michael McDonald duet “Yah Mo B There.”

In 1986, Ingram’s second album Never Felt So Good was released alongside the singles “Always” and “Never Felt So Good.” He joined singer Linda Ronstadt for 1987’s gold-selling hit “Somewhere Out There,” and released his third album, entitled It’s Real, on Warner Brothers in 1989. The album featured the hit title track, written by legendary songwriter Thom Bell.

In 1990, Ingram appeared on Quincy Jones’ R&B mega-ballad “The Secret Garden,” and one year later released his own greatest hits disc entitled The Power of Music. In 1993, Ingram released his fourth LP, Always You and continued writing and performing individual singles throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Ingram released Forever More: The Best of James Ingram, and in 2006, participated in Celebrity Duets, a reality television program.

Ingram continues to perform annually on the “Colors of Christmas” Tour and regularly tours throughout southeast Asia, where he is one of the most popular U.S. artists to this day.

Ingram passed away on January 29, 2019.

Accession Number

A2007.272

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2007

Last Name

Ingram

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Robinson Community Learning Center

East High School

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

ING03

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

2/16/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

1/29/2019

Short Description

Musician, songwriter, and R & B singer James Ingram (1952 - ) was a multiple Grammy Award winner. Some of Ingram's hit songs included "Just Once," "Yah Mo B There;" he also co-wrote Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T."

Employment

Sharp and the G Clefts

Revelation Funk

Different Bag

Ford Motor Company

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:1308,25:2289,65:3597,78:19678,307:23981,376:26640,410:33456,561:38260,590:41704,629:47612,687:48180,692:48890,699:49850,727:57845,892:61687,933:62083,938:64343,945:66480,953:67110,967:69990,1032:70800,1051:75840,1177:80410,1303:80750,1309:85238,1444:87210,1497:92832,1527:93212,1538:97501,1604:101370,1665:101994,1675:103476,1741:106206,1790:106674,1797:111945,1897:123116,2019:127990,2123:142696,2333:146560,2410:150908,2441:152420,2470:173060,2924$0,0:18064,157:18883,168:26625,287:27475,300:27815,305:46268,567:46608,610:91980,1395:92644,1405:110555,1721:119189,1817:120058,1838:120453,1867:125430,1939:127405,1979:130881,2059:149455,2260:161516,2515:173208,2755:192053,2938:204470,3134:206345,3176:206720,3182:207620,3339:209420,3416:223112,3654:243240,3829:251570,3986:262164,4177:283120,4453
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Ingram's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Ingram lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Ingram describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Ingram describes his early interest in music

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his siblings' musical interests

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Ingram describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Ingram remembers celebrating the holidays with his family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Ingram describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Ingram describes his early education

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Ingram describes his musical interests at East High School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Ingram talks about his early bands

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Ingram remembers his music lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Ingram talks about his older brother's musical talent

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Ingram describes his involvement in his church choir

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Ingram talks about his band, Revelation Funk

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Ingram describes his family's civil rights involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Ingram explains the meaning behind 'Yah Mo B There'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his spirituality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Ingram recalls performing in Revelation Funk

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Ingram talks about his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Ingram recalls touring Japan with A Different Bag

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Ingram remembers his bandmates

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Ingram remembers meeting Quincy Jones

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers winning a Grammy Award for 'Just Once'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Ingram remembers working with Dick Clark

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Ingram recalls recording 'Just Once' with Quincy Jones

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes his tour with Quincy Jones and Patti Austin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Ingram remembers winning his first Grammy Award

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes Quincy Jones' influence on his career

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Ingram talks about his experiences of fame

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - James Ingram talks about his children

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Ingram describes his collaboration on Quincy Jones' album, 'The Dude'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Ingram remembers touring with Patti LaBelle

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Ingram recalls writing 'P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers working with Michael Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Ingram talks about his vocal training

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his songwriting process

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Ingram remembers recording 'We Are the World'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes his collaborations with Harry Belafonte

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Ingram recalls recording 'How Do You Keep the Music Playing'

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Ingram reflects upon his international success

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Ingram talks about his tours abroad

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers writing 'The Day I Fall in Love'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Ingram talks about his Academy Award nominations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Ingram recalls singing the theme song for 'An American Tail'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Ingram remembers performing with Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Cole

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Ingram describes his collaboration with Keith Diamond

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Ingram recalls collaborating with Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Ingram remembers his third album, 'It's Real'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Ingram reflects upon the success of his mentors

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Ingram remembers his manager, Dick Scott

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Ingram remembers Gerald Levert and Eddie Levert

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Ingram describes his collaboration on 'The Secret Garden'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Ingram talks about his album 'The Greatest Hits'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Ingram describes his talk show appearances

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Ingram reflects upon his personal success

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Ingram reflects upon his career success

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Ingram describes his collaborations with Debbie Allen

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Ingram talks about his album, 'Stand (In the Light)'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Ingram describes his philanthropic work

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Ingram reflects upon his musical influences

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Ingram reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Ingram reflects upon his music

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - James Ingram describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - James Ingram shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
James Ingram describes his decision to pursue music as a career
James Ingram describes his collaboration with Ray Charles
Transcript
When did you decide, I'm going to be a professional musician?$$A professional musician? When we had, as the band, we had, when we developed later on before I left Akron, Ohio. I graduated in 1970 [from East High School; East Community Learning Center, Akron, Ohio], but I left Ohio in '73 [1973] to come to California with my band, Revelation Funk. Well I joined another band because the other band, they were working and they had families in Akron, Ohio and they were not leaving to go on the road. So we started traveling to New York [New York] and different places and I was making like maybe $150 a week when we split up our money and we were working Monday through Saturday playing four hours, right? Okay, now in between that I got a job at Ford Motors [Ford Motor Company], where my father [Henry Ingram, Sr.] was working at, at the time, he got me a job and I made basically the same money and I was in there eight hours for five days a week so that was like forty hours and make the same money. And so while I'm doing this work, I'm thinking about music and everything and I'm saying wait a minute, hold on, I worked twenty-four hours and made the same money. What is this, 'cause I didn't know exactly about no music business and that I could make a living at it right cause Akron, Ohio was a small city and there was nothing around for me to see. Like if you're in Detroit [Michigan] and Motown [Motown Records] was there, you would have ambitions probably of you know how you could do that, right? It dawned on me, said, "I'm leaving. I'm gonna go on the road. I'm gonna get with a band." We were on the road so we formed a band. And I worked for maybe about six months. And when the people at, that was working at Ford, some of those brothers I knew, when you worked, put your ninety days in right, they was buying like Cadillac cars and a Deuce and a Quarter [Buick Electra] and all that. And so they asked me what was I doing with my money? I said, "I'm buying equipment." "Equipment?" "Yeah, I'm buying speakers and clavinet and another electric piano and all that stuff (unclear)." Say, "Man, for what?" I said, "I'm going on the road." "Aw man, the benefits we have. You going--man you ain't going nowhere." And one day they were coming in and I was leaving out. I said, "I'll see y'all later." But I left in a way that the general foreman there, that--because my work ethics were impeccable because when you went into the department you worked on the jobs. You could pick what job you want to. I could just put things like you're stamping out metal and just--you know what I'm saying? I took the hardest job in there which is on the pan line where the pans came out and you had to lift these things with somebody else on the other side right, cause I figure if I'm going to be there for eight hours, I want to do something that's gonna help me stay in shape. So I went that route until I got out of there.$At what point did you meet Ray Charles?$$That had to be in 19--1976, somewhere around there.$$And tell me about that encounter. How did you meet?$$I met him because my brother Henry Ingram [Henry Ingram, Jr.], my oldest brother was living in Los Angeles, California. And he had a friend that we knew from Chicago [Illinois] that came through our hometown in Akron, Ohio, extremely talented. His name was Larry Woods. And so Larry Woods came to our apartment with my brother and he was telling me, I need to turn you on to Joe Webster 'cause you know, he knew I could write. You know by this time I was writing songs and doing things and stuff. He said I need to turn you on to Joe Webster. Joe Webster was Mabel John's [HistoryMaker Reverend Dr. Mable John] son who was one of the background singers in Ray Charles' studio and he was signed to Ray Charles' label [Tangerine Records]. So Joe and I we met and we hit it off and we started writing songs together. So then I started coming to the studio and singing backgrounds with him you know. I could at least sing backgrounds you know and playing some of the instruments. But one of the tracks I had a click track and I played the drums and I played the bass and I played the keyboards. So the engineer told Ray, you got to see this dude, he can--you know what I'm saying, he's real talented and stuff. So Ray heard me and that's how I got the chance to play organ on 'I Can See Clearly' ['I Can See Clearly Now'] and 'Anonymous Love.'$$What did he say when he heard you for the first time, Ray Charles?$$He said, "Son, you talented." I said I don't know, I'm just here Ray. And, but Ray liked my personality and sometimes he would just like, he would have the engineer call for me just to be around even when I wasn't working because he--Ray was giving me a lot of information not only about the music industry but about you know, about techniques. I saw Ray Charles, which I don't know most engineers could do this. Back then they weren't cutting with click tracks, click tracks you know the drummer would listen to it and it would keep the tempo steady all the way through the song. So naturally the song would speed up a little bit you know just through naturally playing right? Ray had a track like that where he took--I saw him, supposed to be blind right, and of course he was right? The engineer wasn't even there. It was him. I was in the studio with him. And he took the horn parts and flew them over to a half inch tape right, and sent them back to the back of the track even though the track was going faster, an eighth note at a time on different tracks and he put them together. Ray Charles did that. He'd walk all over there. He'd walk out there to the mic [microphone] by himself and all that. Ray Charles not hand- he was not handicapped. He was not handicapped.$$He had a sense, he could see with his mind.$$Right. Right, I don't even know how to explain it but--$$And what did you learn from him?$$He was deaf on drummers. Your timing had to be impeccable, right. And it wasn't like I was a great drummer, but my time was impeccable. So what happened was he heard about, from the engineers, that I fixed a track that the track had sped up right. And so I had to learn where the track was, where it sped up and kept--until I got it and then I got it. So Ray had a track that needed fixed and so they called me to fix that track. So I was in there with Ray and I found out exactly where the tape, it was kind of speeding up, where the musician kind of sped up and it was kind of slowing down and I finally caught it and I had the groove right. Once we got finished, Ray said, "You know what, you did a good job, but I'm going to scrap this." He said, "We're going to cut this all over." So they had a bossa nova, a thing that had these little beats, right? And this was pre-drum machines and all that stuff in terms of the (unclear) and all that stuff. So he said we're going to cut it over. Ray went out there to the drum machine and put the keyboards down, right? And then he gave me the beat to play and I played the beat. Then Ray hummed all of the turnarounds for me to play. "(Scatting) No (scatting)," right, and we'd move on to the next one when I--until--you know what I'm saying? And he punched me in all the turnarounds. So I'm playing drums along with the track and you hear these--feels like I'm going to--you know what I'm saying, because that was the magic of recording.

Pookie Hudson

Thornton James “Pookie” Hudson was born on June 11, 1934 in Des Moines, Iowa. Hudson received his nickname from an aunt who babysat him. He was the only child of Ardath Robinson. His father, who he never knew, was rumored to be a gypsy. James Hudson married his mother while she was pregnant and shortly after his birth the family moved from Iowa to Gary, Indiana. Hudson attended Roosevelt School from first grade until he graduated in 1953. He developed a love for music and singing at a young age and shares the bloodline with famous performers Josephine Baker and Fats Waller. In 1948, while only in junior high school, he formed his first Doo Wop singing group, The Four Bees with fellow members Billy Shelton, Gerald Gregory and Calvin Fossett. The group eventually broke up when one of the members graduated.

The Spaniels were created in 1953 at Roosevelt High School. The teenage celebrities included Hudson as the lead singer, first tenor Ernest Warren, second tenor Willie C. Jackson, baritone Opal Courtney, Jr and bass Gerald Gregory. Upon graduation in 1953, the group became the first artists to sign with Vee Jay Records, the first large, independent African American-owned record company. The group’s initial release Baby It’s You reached number ten on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart. In the spring of 1954 that The Spaniels reached the height of their Doo Wop success when Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight hit number twenty-four on Billboard’s Top 40 and rose to number five on the R & B chart. The multi-million dollar single was just one of hundreds of songs written by Hudson. To date, the song continues to be a popular favorite among Doo Wop, classic rock and R & B music fans.

In the 1950s, The Spaniels were the top selling vocal group for Vee Jay records. When the label went bankrupt in 1966, Hudson embarked on a solo career and began recording for several other labels. In 1969, the group reunited and returned to the music of their youth. Their song Fairy Tales became a national hit in 1970. Hudson continued to perform with various Spaniels groups until he reassembled the original group.

In 1992, Hudson was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. He continued to perform with two Spaniels groups, one in Washington, D.C. and the original group still based in Gary. Hudson raised money to open a Doo Wop museum in Washington, D.C. where he resided with his wife, Delores.

Hudson passed away on Tuesday, January 16, 2007.

Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 2, 2004.

Accession Number

A2004.010

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/2/2004

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

James

Organizations
Schools

Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy

First Name

Thornton

Birth City, State, Country

Des Moines

HM ID

HUD02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Iowa

Favorite Vacation Destination

Las Vegas, Nevada

Favorite Quote

I Love You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

6/11/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Death Date

1/16/2007

Short Description

R & B singer and doo wop singer Pookie Hudson (1934 - 2007 ) Pookie Hudson was the the lead singer of the musical group, The Spaniels.

Employment

General American

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:7632,113:8220,122:8640,128:31181,426:50415,590:58245,767:64278,840:64822,849:65162,855:66046,875:66386,881:100535,1336:103870,1365$0,0:1090,10:6355,119:7246,138:8299,157:9109,168:9919,179:11377,206:17836,249:25526,402:26329,435:26694,537:26986,580:66420,1188:85580,1477:103540,1709
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Pookie Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Pookie Hudson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Pookie Hudson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Pookie Hudson describes his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Pookie Hudson describes his mother's side of the family and early exposure to music

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Pookie Hudson talks about his earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Pookie Hudson describes his childhood community in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Pookie Hudson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Pookie Hudson describes his childhood personality and his elementary school years

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Pookie Hudson talks about attending church as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Pookie Hudson speaks about his friends at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, and forming his band, The Spaniels

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Pookie Hudson describes developing a love for singing while listening to 'Randy at Night' on the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Pookie Hudson talks about the music acts at his great aunt's home in Davenport, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Pookie Hudson talks about visiting his grandmother and great aunt in Davenport, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Pookie Hudson talks about his role models growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Pookie Hudson describes his first performance with the Three Bees

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Pookie Hudson talks about the formation of Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonnaires

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Pookie Hudson describes the origins of the 1952 song 'Goodnight Sweetheart'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Pookie Hudson talks about auditioning with Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonnaires at the Chicago Theater in the early 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Pookie Hudson describes being approached by Vee-Jay Records in 1953

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Pookie Hudson talks about his experiences at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Pookie Hudson describes his personality as a performer and writing 'Goodnight Sweetheart' for a girl he liked

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Pookie Hudson talks about supporting himself financially as an entertainer

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Pookie Hudson describes first hearing his songs on the radio

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Pookie Hudson describes his experiences with segregation in Chicago, Illinois and in the South while travelling with Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonnaires

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Pookie Hudson describes touring with Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonnaires during the 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Pookie Hudson talks about his life as an entertainer in the 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Pookie Hudson talks about his first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Pookie Hudson talks about returning to singing and Vee-Jay Records after the end of his first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Pookie Hudson talks about his relationship with deejay Alan Freed

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Pookie Hudson talks about the doo-wop genre and his 1960s music career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Pookie Hudson describes changing labels, the end of the Spaniels and evolving music genres in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Pookie Hudson talks about the Civil Rights Movement's impact on music during the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Pookie Hudson talks about securing royalties for 'Goodnight, Sweetheart' in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Pookie Hudson describes reconnecting with Vee-Jay Records founder Vivian Carter at her home in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Pookie Hudson talks about his career and activities in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Pookie Hudson describes his most valuable lesson

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Pookie Hudson describes his hopes for doo-wop musicians and similar artists

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Pookie Hudson speaks about the doo-wop genre, including its future

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Pookie Hudson shares advice for younger artists interested in doo-wop, and compares the genre to rap music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Pookie Hudson talks about his experience performing for a European audience and being inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 1992

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Pookie Hudson reflects on both his accomplishments and regrets in terms of his music career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Pookie Hudson talks about his ongoing relationship with the Spaniels

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Pookie Hudson shares his hopes for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Pookie Hudson reflects on how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Pookie Hudson expounds upon his definition of the doo-wop genre, including its and the Spaniels' contribution to the music industry as a whole

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Pookie Hudson talks about 'Peace of Mind' as another song he would like to be remembered by and his songwriting process

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Pookie Hudson reflects on the best decade of his life

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Pookie Hudson narrates his photographs

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DATitle
Pookie Hudson describes his first performance with the Three Bees
Pookie Hudson describes the origins of the 1952 song 'Goodnight Sweetheart'
Transcript
Do you remember your first performance in front of an audience, how old were you?$$You mean professionally?$$No, just the first time you sang in front of an audience, whether it was at church or--$$Well the Three Bees we used to sing, we had a place called the neighborhood house, we used to sing for the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Association]. We didn't do any talent shows, we just sang in the hallways and things, you know. But they put us out of school because we made all the noise, they called all the noise. But basically, really the first real, I guess, audience was when we first formed Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonnaires, and we did the talent shows, so we had a very big, you know, school [Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary, Indiana] audience at that time.$$When you were singing in hallways and at church, do you ever remember being nervous. What were those performances like, what was it like?$$I don't know, I enjoyed it, you know, I didn't find it to be nothing to be scared about, you know. Yeah, we always had butterflies and things what you're doing because you hit the wrong the note you don't sound bad and whatever 'cause we didn't have instruments. We had to use our voices so. As long as we got the right note and you could see the reaction on people, they was enjoying what you were doing, and that just helps build you up more.$So at the time you were in the Three Bees, you all spent a lot of time singing songs that had already been written and produced.$$Right.$$When did you start making the transition into not only singing, but writing as well?$$That happened just as we were getting ready to record we would sing other people's songs, so the people (unclear) say, "You can't sing other people's songs, you have got to have your own material."$$So was this after high school [Theodore Roosevelt High School, Gary, Indiana]?$$Yeah, uh-huh. See we came out of high school recording, so we had to finish school. And so we were trying to put a song called 'Baby It's You' together which was our first release. 'Goodnight Sweetheart' I had written back in '52 [1952] and it was not really writing a song, it was for a young lady name Bonnie Jean. I used to be in love with Bonnie Jean, and I used to go to her house and I stayed and stayed, and her mama got tired of me staying so she told me one night, said, "Son, your mama may not care about you being out after twelve o'clock, but she didn't mean for you to be here after twelve o'clock." So walking home I put together 'Goodnight Sweetheart', but we did that in '52 [1952]. We didn't even want to record 'Goodnight Sweetheart' because we thought it was a childish song. I took it to the group and we put it together. So when the company tried to get us to do 'Goodnight Sweetheart' it took us almost eighteen hours to do the song 'cause we didn't want to do it. We thought it was a childish song, we thought it was something that you would do in a nursery rhyme, or something. And see how much we know about it-- the biggest thing we ever had was 'Goodnight Sweetheart.'