“Early in the Morning” is a song originally performed by The Gap Band and written by member Charlie Wilson and producers Lonnie Simmons and Rudy Taylor. It was released as a single in 1982 and went on to become their biggest hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 24, and also topped Billboard’s R&B chart for three weeks.The single also peaked at number 13 on the dance charts.The song became a hit again when Robert Palmer covered it in 1988. This version peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is to date the highest charting version of the song on that chart.
Category Archives: black music artists
The Whispers are an American group from Los Angeles, California, who have scored hit records since the late 1960s. The Whispers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003, and were winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award in 2008. By popular vote, the group was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012.
The Whispers formed in 1964 in Watts, California. The original members included twin brothers Wallace “Scotty” and Walter Scott, along with Gordy Harmon, Marcus Hutson, and Nicholas Caldwell. After being invited to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1966 by Sly Stone, the group relocated to that area where they began developing a reputation as a show-stopping live act. Walter Scott was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War during that period for eighteen months, returning to the group in 1969 after discharge. After Harmon injured his larynx in a driving accident in 1973, he was replaced by former Friends of Distinction member Leaveil Degree. Scotty Scott’s fluid, melodic voice is featured on virtually all of their hits.
The group scored many hits on the R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and they hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1980 with “And the Beat Goes On / “Can You Do the Boogie” / “Out the Box”. In 1987, they enjoyed a brief tenure in the Top 10 when “Rock Steady” became their first Top 10 success on the Hot 100, reaching #7, while also capturing the #1 spot on the R&B chart.
After a series of singles on Los Angeles label, Dore, the group signed to a small LA label, Soul Clock, run by producer Ron Carson, who was responsible for their breakthrough hit, “Seems Like I Got To Do Wrong” in 1970. Moving to the larger New York-based Janus label, they continued to be produced by Carson, before he sold all of his recordings to Janus with the group then recording mainly in Philadelphia in the mid ’70s.
Since that period, most of their studio work has been done in Los Angeles. Their most successful period was in the 1980s with SOLAR Records (Sound Of Los Angeles Records), which was operated by their manager at the time, Dick Griffey.
The Whispers later established their own production company, Satin Tie Productions, through which they released their independent 2006 album For Your Ears Only.
The group opened Game 2 of the 1989 World Series at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with their rendition of the National Anthem.
Marcus Hutson left the group in 1992 due to prostate cancer. According to the Whispers’ website, when Hutson died of it in 2000, they vowed to never replace him and started performing as a quartet.
Jerry McNeil resigned his position as keyboardist in the latter part of 1993 in order to spend more time with his family. In 2014, The Whispers was inducted into The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame.
The Philadelphia soul songwriter team Allan Felder, Norman Harris, Bunny Sigler, and Ronnie Baker provided several of The Whispers’ songs including “A Mother for My Children” and “Bingo”.
Nicholas Caldwell died of congestive heart failure at his San Francisco home on January 5, 2016.
New Birth also known as The New Birth is an American funk and R&B group. It was originally conceived in Detroit, Michigan by former Motown songwriter/producer, Vernon Bullock and co-founded in Louisville, Kentucky by him with former singer and Motown songwriter/producer Harvey Fuqua and musicians, Tony Churchill, James Baker, Austin Lander, Robert “Lurch” Jackson, Leroy Taylor, Charlie Hearndon and Nathaniel “Nebs” Neblett.
The history of the group began with the instrumental outfit, The Nite-Liters, which was originally formed in 1963 in Louisville, Kentucky by Tony Churchill and Harvey Fuqua. In its heyday, besides Churchill on tenor sax and vibes, the band featured Charlie Hearndon on guitar, James Baker on keyboards, Robin Russell on drums, Robert “Lurch” Jackson on trumpet, Austin Lander on baritone sax, Leroy Taylor on bass, and, later, Carl McDaniel on guitar. Earlier members included Johnny Graham, later of Earth, Wind & Fire and Jerry Bell also a member at one time.
Under this name, the group had a few hits before the formation of New Birth proper, including “K-Jee” (#17 R&B, #39 pop,1971). In 1969, Vernon Bullock had thought of creating an ensemble of groups for a touring company and Harvey Fuqua and Tony Churchill soon took an interest. After discovering a male vocal group, The Now Sound, which featured Bobby Downs, Ron Coleman, Gary Young and an individual known as “Slim,” and also a female vocal group, known as Mint Julep, which featured Londee Loren, Tanita Gaines, Janice Carter and Pam Swent, they brought them together with The Nite-Liters plus additional vocalist, Alan Frye, calling the newly formed ensemble, New Birth. The band came together in 1970 with their self-titled debut on RCA. Their second album, Ain’t No Big Thing, But It’s Growing, yielded a minor hit with their cover of Perry Como’s “It’s Impossible”, in 1971.
Later that year, Bullock discovered a group from Detroit, Michigan called Love, Peace & Happiness, which featured former Marvelettes singer Ann Bogan and brothers Leslie and Melvin Wilson. Finding that they had the spark that was missing from the New Birth ensemble, he paired them with the Nite-Liters and original members of New Birth, Londee Loren, Bobby Downs and Alan Frye.
In 1972, the reorganized group (as a 17-piece ensemble) reached the Billboard R&B top 10 (#4 R&B, #35 pop) with their cover of Bobby Womack and The Valentinos’ “I Can Understand It”, which paved the way for the band’s future success. By the time the song hit the stores, however, Ann had left to devote time to her family, leaving Londee Loren as the only female member. When Harvey reportedly could not get the performance he wanted out of Londee on their next hit, “Until It’s Time for You to Go”, it featured, instead of the group members, future Supremes member Susaye Greene as lead vocalist, with Harvey and Carolyn Willis of Honey Cone doing the spoken intro. However, Londee more than met the challenge in live performances and her voice matured on future releases.
In 1974, the group issued their album, It’s Been a Long Time, which featured hits including the title track (#9 R&B) and their cover of the Skylark song “Wildflower”. After the release of their sixth RCA album, Comin’ From All Ends, the group split from RCA, Fuqua and their management company and signed with Buddah.
New Birth’s Buddah debut, Blind Baby, featured the group’s only number-one R&B single, a cover of the Jerry Butler classic, “Dream Merchant”. By this time, the Nite-Liters had so merged with the New Birth. that the instrumental cut that opened the album was solely credited to New Birth. A move to Warner produced several minor hits and the release of the 1977 album, Behold The Mighty Army, the Wilson brothers left following disagreements in the group.
The group including Baker, Churchill and Lander returned on Ariola in 1979 with Jerry Bell as their lead vocalist on Platinum City and in 1982 with the I’m Back album. Leslie Wilson had left the group to replace Jeffrey Osborne in L.T.D. whilst Jerry Bell departed in 1981 to become lead vocalist for Motown’s Dazz Band.
The Wilsons toured with a new ensemble as New Birth in 1994, and released a few albums under the new name in the decade since. Drummer Robin Russell released a solo CD entitled Drum Beats in 2004.
Since the group’s initial split, their songs have been covered by the likes of Jamie Foxx, who sampled their cover of “Wildflower” for his 2005 hit, “Unpredictable”. R&B group Somethin’ for the People sampled their “It’s Been a Long Time” for their 1997 hit “My Love Is the Shhh!” Rap artist Lil’ Wayne sampled “You Don’t Have to Be Alone” from their self-titled album in his song “La La”, And again Jerry Bell’s remake of “Its Been A Long Time.” “You Are What I’m All About” was sampled for Junior Mafia’s “Player’s Anthem” and possibly for Britney Spears’ “Sippin’ On”.
New Birth, particularly lead vocalist Leslie Wilson was a chief influence on Soul artist Reggie Sears and Temptations lead singer Ali “Ollie” Woodson.
James Baker died in 1993, Leroy Taylor died on January 17, 2012 and producer Vernon Bullock died March 18, 2015 at the age of 70 years.
“TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” is a 1973 hit recording by MFSB (Mother, Father, Sister, Brother) featuring vocals by
The Three Degrees
. A classic example of the Philadelphia soul genre, it was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff as the theme for the American musical television program
which specialized in African American musical performers. The single was released on the Philadelphia International label. It was the first television theme song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and it is arguably the first disco song to reach that position.
The song is essentially an instrumental piece, featuring a lush blend of strings and horns in the Philadelphia soul style.
There are only two vocal parts to the song: a passage close to the beginning during which The Three Degrees sing “People all over the world!”; and the chorus over the fadeout, “Let’s get it on/It’s time to get down”. The words “People all over the world!” are not heard in the original version. The version heard on
also had the series title sung over the first four notes of the melody, ”
Soul Train, Soul Train”.
This particular version was released on a 1975 Three Degrees album, International.
TSOP hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1974 and remained there for two weeks, the first television theme song to do so in the history of that chart. It also topped the American R&B chart (for one week) and adult contemporary chart (for two weeks). The Three Degrees would revisit the top of the AC chart later in 1974 with their hit single, When Will I See You Again.
Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, refused to allow any references to the name of the television series when the single was released, leading Gamble and Huff to adopt the alternate title for the release. Cornelius would later admit that not allowing the single to be named Soul Train was a major mistake on his part.
Although it was rerecorded a number of times for future versions of the show, and various different themes were used during the late 1970s and early 1980s, TSOP returned in the late 1980s and remained the theme song for Soul Train through the disco, 1980s R&B, new jack swing, hip-hop, and neo soul eras of black music.
TSOP was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners and released as a B-side on the 12″ version of the “Jackie Wilson Said” single, later issued on the remastered version of the album Too-Rye-Ay. The band also used it to open some of their live shows.
Another remake of the tune was made in 1978 by reggae band Inner Circle, who had a history of covering American soul songs in the laid-back reggae style of the late 1970s.
Two more covers were made in 1987 (by George Duke), and 1999 (by Sampson); both versions would be used as themes for Soul Train. The 1999 theme would be used until Soul Train ‘s final episode in 2006.
The song is played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia prior to every Phillies home game. The song was also played after Vancouver Whitecaps NASL home games at Empire Stadium in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and after Vancouver 86ers CSL home games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pilipinas, Game KNB?, a Philippines game show hosted by actor/politician Edu Manzano, used an adaptation of TSOP (Tanya) called Papayo Yowza as its theme. The song’s opening was also sampled as program identification for all Philadelphia 76ers games broadcast on WCAU-AM in the mid-to-late 1970s.
In 1998, German act BMR featuring Dutch singer Felicia Uwaje sampled the single in their song Check It Out.
(May 20, 1940 – June 29, 1969) was an American soul singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer for Motown’s Soul Records imprint. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Long came to Motown in 1963 from the Tri-Phi/Harvey label, owned by Berry Gordy’s sister, Gwen, and her husband, Harvey Fuqua. His first release, “Devil with the Blue Dress On” (1964), written with William “Mickey” Stevenson, was the first recording issued on Motown’s Soul label, a subsidiary designed for more blues-based artists such as Long. While this song never charted nationally, the song was covered and made a hit in 1966 by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels. Long’s 1966 single
“Function at the Junction”
was his first popular hit, reaching #42 on the national R&B charts. Other single releases included “It’s a Crying Shame” (1964), “Chantilly Lace” (1967), and “Night Fo’ Last” (1968).
Long’s biggest hit was “Here Comes the Judge” which in July 1968 reached number four on the R&B charts and number-eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was inspired by a comic act on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In about a judge by Pigmeat Markham, whose own “Here Comes the Judge” (a similar song with different lyrics) which charted three weeks after Long’s, again in July 1968, and reached number 19 on Billboard. Long’s 1969 singles included “I Had a Dream” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. He released one album during his lifetime, Here Comes the Judge (1968).
Long played many instruments, including piano, organ, drums, harmonica, and trumpet. He acted as an MC for many of the Motortown Revue shows and tours, and co-wrote several of his tunes (“Devil with the Blue Dress On”, “Function at the Junction”, and “Here Comes the Judge”). Long was the only Motown artist besides Smokey Robinson who was allowed to produce his own recordings in the 1960s. Marvin Gaye, in David Ritz’s biography Divided Soul: The Life & Times of Marvin Gaye, described Shorty Long as “this beautiful cat who had two hits, and then got ignored by Motown.” Gaye claimed he “fought for guys like Shorty” while at Motown, since no one ever pushed for these artists. When Holland-Dozier-Holland came to Gaye with a tune, he stated, “Why are you going to produce me? Why don’t you produce Shorty Long?”
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LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), known by her stage name Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter, painter, and actress. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late-1970s. A five-time Grammy Award winner, she was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on the United States Billboard 200 chart and charted four number-one singles in the U.S. within a 12-month period. Summer has reportedly sold over 140 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. She also charted two number-one singles on the R&B charts in the U.S. and one number-one in the U.K.
Summer earned a total of 32 hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in her lifetime, with 14 of those reaching the top ten. She claimed a top 40 hit every year between 1975 and 1984, and from her first top ten hit in 1976, to the end of 1982, she had 12 top ten hits;(10 were top five hits) more than any other act. She returned to the Hot 100’s top five in 1983, and claimed her final top ten hit in 1989 with “This Time I Know It’s for Real”. Her most recent Hot 100 hit came in 1999 with “I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)”. While her fortunes on the Hot 100 waned through those decades, Summer remained a force on the U.S. Dance/Club Play Songs chart over her entire career.
While influenced by the counterculture of the 1960s, she became the front singer of a psychedelic rock band named Crow and moved to New York City. Joining a touring version of the musical Hair, she left New York and spent several years living, acting, and singing in Europe, where she met music producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.
Summer returned to the U.S., in 1975 after the commercial success of the song “Love to Love You Baby”, which was followed by a string of other hits, such as “I Feel Love”, “Last Dance”, “MacArthur Park”, “Heaven Knows”, “Hot Stuff”, “Bad Girls”, “Dim All the Lights”, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” (duet with Barbra Streisand), and “On the Radio”. She became known as the “Queen of Disco”, while her music gained a global following.
Summer died on May 17, 2012, at her home in Naples, Florida. In her obituary in The Times, she was described as the “undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom” who reached the status of “one of the world’s leading female singers.” Giorgio Moroder described Summer’s work with him on the song “I Feel Love” as “really the start of electronic dance” music. In 2013, Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.