• Saxofoniste Candy Dulfer getrouwd

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    Candy Dulfer is met haar Hongaarse vriend Béla Szenasi getrouwd. "Dit is net gebeurd", schreef de 44-jarige saxofoniste zaterdagnacht op Instagram bij een foto van haarzelf en Szenasi in bruidskleding.

    Dulfer, die in 2010 ten huwelijk werd gevraagd door de vijftien jaar jongere Szenasi, had vorig jaar al aangekondigd haar huwelijksdatum niet aan de grote klok te hangen. "Nederland zal het niet merken als ik trouw", zei ze in een interview.

    Door: Novum

  • Cors Disco and Soulshow van 29 juni 2014 via MixCloud

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    Cors Disco en Soulshow van 29 juni 2014 by Cor Shops on Mixcloud

     
  • BOBBY WOMACK MARCH 1976 INTERVIEW

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    Root-rappin? Whassat? Well, it's like this…John Abbey got to talking with Bobby and the conversation drifted to his very early days — his roots!

    THOUGH Bobby Womack probably won't thank me for mentioning it, the amiable superstar is celebrating his 25th anniversary of being in show business this year. The reason he won't thank me is because I'm sticking to the proverbial book, but I'll immediately come to his rescue by pointing out that his career began shortly after his seventh birthday back in his home town of Cleveland, Ohio. During Bobby's recent British dates at the beginning of his first Euro-tour, we caught him in a reminiscing mood and found the subject to be of special interest to the man.

    That debut performance was with his three brothers — Friendly Jr., Curtis and Harry — who then were tagged the Womack Brothers. With their god-fearing father — Friendly Sr, — playing guitar, the brothers opened a gospel concert for the then-popular Soul Stirrers at Cleveland's Friendship Baptist Church.

    "To this day," Bobby recalls with a wry smile and glazed look in his eyes, "I'll never forget that day. Our father took it all so very seriously and our ma made up special suits for us to wear on the day. They were our first suits and we weren't allowed to wear them until ten minutes before the show actually started.

    "Like a lot of families in that period, we were brought up as strict and God-fearing children but we were taught manners and respect, two things that seem to have died out since in the States. That's why I like England so much because those pleasantries still exist over here."

    The transition from gospel to R&B proved to be a particularly harrowing one for the Womack brothers but somehow, the way Bobby tells it, it's tinged with humour and melodrama in rather the same way that the Steptoe & Son TV shows often are.

    "Well, it got us kicked out of the house — literally!", he begins. "I was fourteen at the time and, like I say, our father was very seriously religious. In fact, he thought that Blues singers had the devil in them and when an accident might befall one of them, pops would say that God had let it happen that way to teach a lesson. And when we were singing gospel, he would literally say his prayers every night that God had sent him sons who were blessed with the gift of being able to sing praise to Him.

    "But we boys had different ideas and every night we would talk until well into the night about how we would leave gospel and get into what pop called Be-Bop. We used to all sleep in one big of bed — except for Cecil who was only about two at the time — and one night we finally decided to tell pop what we wanted to do.

    "It all happened like this — we knew the Blind Boys lead singer, Roscoe, and he claimed he knew Sam Cooke real well. Now, we had been on local shows with Sam and I said to Roscoe that if he knew Sam so well, why didn't he get him on the phone and get a deal together for us to make a record. So, Roscoe calls Sam and asks him if he remembers the Womack brothers and when Sam says he does, Roscoe says that Sam should do something about making a record with us.

    "Sam was already at the top so he knows what he is talking about and he tells us all — because we were all listening in on phone extensions! — that there's no money or future in making gospel records and that we ought to cross over into R&B.

    "Naturally, at first we told Sam that our father would go mad if we were to suggest it so Sam came to Chicago and met us and we cut a couple of gospel tunes for his record company, Sar Records. In the meantime, we were doing little local gigs with all of the big visiting gospel groups — groups like the Swan Silvertones and James Cleveland because the Staple Singers, for example, had only just begun then. So that's how we first came into serious contact with Sam but he played a tremendous part in the beginning."

    The Womack Brothers enjoyed a fair amount of success as a gospel recording act but the seed had been sewn in the back of the four brothers' minds — the switch to R&B.

    "We soon saw how much further we could get by making Blues records so the four of us decided to pluck up courage and confront Pop with the situation. I started out as spokesman and when I told him we didn't want to sing gospel any more he just broke down and cried. It surprised us all so much that I found myself floundering for other reasons so as not to hurt him.

    "I tried the wealth routine — about how we could buy a house and move out of the neighbourhood. But that didn't work because pops said he would always work and anyway he liked living in the neighbourhood. And we said how we wouldn't have to walk five miles to school every day, we could afford to go on the bus. Finally, I went back to the original reason — we were sick of singing gospel and wanted to try to build a career out of entertaining. Pop got annoyed and said he would throw us all out of the house because of the shame it would bring him and how we were going over to the devil. I countered by saying we didn't have any money so could he please throw us out next week instead!

    "It all got pretty heavy so we called Sam in Los Angeles and explained what had happened. He asked to speak to my ma and agreed to send us $3,000 to buy a station wagon and drive to California and he would help us. But, imagining that we were already superstars, we decided to spend the money on a Cadillac because a station wagon would be too small-time for us! We could smell all those dollars in California so nothing seemed to matter to us. I remember when the cheque arrived from Sam, pop just sat and looked at it — completely mesmerised because he'd never seen that much money in his life before.

    "We went off to do some work in New York and the East Coast and came back home and bought the dream Cadillac — for $600 so you have some idea of what sort of a Cadillac it was! The minute we bought it, pop told us it was real pretty but mechanically it was garbage and that it wouldn't see us across the state line. But he was being kind because we never got out of the city even before it broke down!

    "When we left the house, there was the four of us and ma in the back seat and the whole neighbourhood turned out to see us off. The kids ran down the street with the Cadillac, it was that impressive to them all.

    "Anyway, we managed to get it to a garage just outside of the city and the mechanic started to tell us about our bargain — the tank had a hole in it, it needed completely new tyres and a whole heap of other faults. If pops had known about it at the time, he would have sworn that the devil had gotten us. But, we got it fixed overnight and we all slept in the car as it was jacked up. Man, that was the most uncomfortable night of my life!

    "Then we got lost and ended up in Mexico. By this time, the car had started leaking gas again and when we finally stopped in this little town, we all staggered out of the car almost asphixiated from the fumes. Ma was so bad that she had to spend a couple of days in the hospital and again we all slept in the car at night. By then, though, Pa and everybody was wondering where we were. He was calling Sam's house and every day he was getting more and more riled up until he threatened Sam that he was coming out to California to kick Sam into next week because he had taken his sons over to the devil. Anyway, we eventually got there and drove down Hollywood Boulevard one evening, getting to Sam's office at around nine o'clock.

    "He had gone home so we called him there and he came round and got us and fed us because by now we had got less than $100 left of the original $3,000. He checked us into this hotel type place deep in the heart of Watts — Lord, that was a real dive, I'll never forget it! It was so tight there that we were even given a meal ticket and told when to eat and what to eat. But somehow it was all exciting because it was new and exciting.

    "Just before we had left Cleveland, we had gone across to Chicago to make out first record as the Valentinos. Sam and his manager. J.W. Alexander, were the ones to come up with the name because they kept on telling us that we were slick like Rudolph Valentino. And then they'd add that the Womack Brothers was too gospel-ly and that we needed a new name and image to go with our R&B career. Then they presented us with a list of names and, apart from the Valentinos, they were all really lousy — names like the Be-Bops and the Doo-Wops — so it was no contest.

    "Anyway, the record we cut was "Looking For A Love" (which Bobby re-cut only a couple of years back and earned himself a Gold Disc for by the way) and it did well for us in several areas. Enough for us to get some work, anyway. But it was a rip-off really because all we were doing was taking standard gospel tunes, changing the rhythm and adding new lyrics. "Looking For A Love" was the same really as "I Couldn't Get Nobody To Pray", which was an old plantation gospel number that we had recorded earlier as the Womack Brothers tor Sam.

    "But I'll never forget our opening night in California. The little club was packed and they were impatiently waiting to see the hit recording Valentinos — and we trooped on in the same suits that we'd had made six years earlier but ma had added bits here and taken bits out there. We'd sprayed the black shoes blue to go with the blue suits and when we walked on, the people just fell about laughing. And, of course, we didn't know why until Sam told us and he took us out next day to buy new uniforms. And that was the first time that we had ever had shop-bought clothes in our life.

    "From then on, it became a madhouse existence. At first, we were getting lots of work but then it dropped off and we were still demanding big money — which we were simply not getting and so we weren't working. We needed a new record and that's how I started writing songs. I felt that unless we came up with our own material we'd never get anywhere.

    "I guess that was all brought to a head one night when Sam caught us in our old faithful Cadillac and you see, we'd fitted up this phone on the front dashboard to impress the fans. You know, the world-famous Valentinos and their Cadillac with the telephone in the front. Very impressive — but what they didn't know was that it was a regular home phone and it wasn't connected to anything!

    "But Sam tore us off a strip in front of a handful of our fans and told us how we could be arrested for fooling around with the telephone company's property. The final blow came one night when we came out from doing a show and found the Cadillac missing. So we combed the neighbourhood and asked everyone if they'd seen it.

    "Finally, in desperation, we called Alex (J.W. Alexander) and told him — only to be told by him that the loan company had come and repossessed it. But, fortunately, "It's All Over Now" came straight after that — and you know the rest."

  • Kool & The Gang en Commodores zetten discofeest neer in HMH

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    Twee van de populairste disco- en funkbands uit de jaren 70 en 80 stonden vrijdagavond na elkaar op het podium in de HMH: Commodores en Kool & The Gang.

    Commodores trapt de feestavond in de Amsterdamse concertzaal op gepaste wijze af met I Feel Sanctified. Het bekendste lid van de groep was Lionel Richie, die zich in de jaren 80 ontpopte tot soloster. Wat Michael Jackson was voor The Jacksons, dat was Richie voor Commodores, dat nog met twee oorspronkelijke leden optreedt.

    Twee van de oprichters van de band, Walter Orange en William King, zijn er in de HMH bij, aangevuld met het lang zittende bandlid J.D. Nicholas. Het drietal wordt door een flinke begeleidingsband bijgestaan, maar de muzikanten maken geen officieel deel uit van Commodores. De sessiemuzikanten zetten echter een strakke sound neer.

    De liedjes zijn vooral in de eerste helft van het optreden van Commodores bedoeld als vehikel om een feestje te bouwen. De heren laten aanvankelijk  hun vakmanschap als doorgewinterde entertainers  zien, maar gaandeweg laten ze horen dat het muzikale talent ook nog aanwezig is.

    Samenzang

     

    Onbetwiste hoogtepunten zijn het dampende funknummer Too Hot To Trot, het nog altijd ijzersterke Brick House en het relaxte Nightshift, mede dankzij de kundige samenzang. Nicholas neemt de vocalen van Richie voor zijn rekening in de ballads Easy en Three Times A Lady, maar weet de originele zanger niet te overtreffen.

    Nadat Commodores het publiek al aardig heeft weten op te warmen, mag Kool & The Gang zijn kunsten vertonen. De groep rondom bassist Robert 'Kool' Bell was van origine een jazzcollectief, die via stevige funk evolueerde naar disco en pop. In de HMH komen alle facetten van Kool & The Gang voorbij.

    Familieleden

     

    De band opent met het feestelijke disconummer Fresh, gevolgd door een medley bestaande uit iets minder grote hits als Tonight, Emergency en Misled. Een aanzienlijk deel van de vroegere bandleden (of familieleden ervan) staan op de bühne en na een paar nummers slaagt de band er al in het optreden van Commodores te doen verbleken.

    De tracklist alleen al is subliem, met het broeierige Too Hot, het uitbundige Hollywood Swinging, het dampende Jungle Boogie en het groovy Funky Stuff. Vrijwel allemaal nummers van voor de grote succesperiode van Kool & The Gang, die begon met Ladies Night, maar er wordt niet minder hard op gedanst.

    Gevoelig

     

    Uiteraard worden ook de klassiekers niet overgeslagen. Joanna is haast niet van de plaatopname te onderscheiden, Cherish klinkt live mogelijk nog gevoeliger dan de versie die in de hitlijsten stond, voor het eerst is er ook daadwerkelijke reggae te horen in Let's Go Dancin' (Ooh La La) (waaraan gerefereerd wordt in de tekst).

    Toch is het vooral het oudere werk, met solo's op trompet, saxofoon en bas (door Kool zelf), waarin de band uitblinkt. De bijkomstigheid van de onvergetelijke hits zijn een dikke bonus. Helaas is het oeuvre van Kool & The Gang altijd een beetje ondergesneeuwd door die ene grote hit, die de avond goed samenvat: Celebration.

     

    Door: NU.nl/Pierre Oitmann                

  • Zanger Bobby Womack op 70-jarige leeftijd overleden

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    De Amerikaanse soul- en blueszanger Bobby Womack is vrijdag op 70-jarige leeftijd overleden.

    Dat bevestigt een woordvoerder van Womacks label XL Recordings aanRolling Stone. De oorzaak van Womacks dood is nog onbekend.

    Zanger Damon Albarn van Blur zou vrijdagavond zijn concert hebben opgedragen aan Womack. Dat wordt door veel aanwezigen gemeld op Twitter. Albarn en Womack werkten de afgelopen jaren samen. Zo produceerden ze samen het album The Bravest Man in the Universe.

    Vorig jaar werd bekend dat de zanger leed aan Alzheimer. Hij overwon eerder al prostaat- en darmkanker.

    De zanger maakte in 2013 een comeback met het album The Bravest Man In The Universe. Hij werd in 2009 opgenomen in de Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

    Zijn carrière begon in het begin van de jaren zestig. Hij werd bekend met nummers als It's All Over Now en Across 110th Street.

  • FIRST CHOICE OCTOBER 1977 INTERVIEW

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    The young ladies found runaway success with "Doctor Love", their first single for the Gold Mind label. With their new album, they plan to stress they're more than just a disco act.

    IT WOULD SEEM that there are always going to be some acts in the music business whose careers never quite maintain the consistency that their talent should permit. They'll appear on the charts, stay there for some time, work hard, follow through and then, there will be a period of silence until they re-surface again maybe six months or a year later.

    Such has been the case with the trio of ladies known as First Choice, although we should hasten to add that this time, it seems that the girls are here to stay!

    After their very first release on Scepter, "The House Where Love Died", the trio found themselves in the very capable hands of Stan Watson, the gentleman who had originally masterminded the phenomenally successful early days of The Delfonics, who has since guided the career of First Choice through some of its ups and downs — cause primarily by lack of interest on the part of the record companies involved.

    First Choice's first national success came with "Armed & Extremely Dangerous" through Philly Groove Records, then distributed by the ailing Bell Records' complex. With the demise of Bell came the emergence of Arista Records and although the ladies' "Player" album of late '74 was played with incredible consistency in discos throughout the U.S.A. (as well as abroad), spawning sides like "Guilty", "Hustler Bill" and "Look What Mary Jones Did", it didn't make the sales headway it merited.

    Of course, prior to that, their stint with Bell had produced disco classics such as "Smarty Pants" and "Newsy Neighbours".

    Dissatisfied with the lack of exposure at Arista, First Choice emerged in 1976 with an album on Warners, who were distributing Philly Groove for a short period of time. Again, the album "Let Us Entertain You" received substantial airplay in the discos everywhere with cuts like "Gotta Get Away" and "Are You Ready For This? Being in constant demand but alas, for whatever reason, the album didn't register quite the way it should have.

    All of which took First Choice up to October of '76 when they teamed up again with Norman Harris and his fellow workers, Ron Baker, Earl Young and Ron Kersey as well as Bruce Hawes and Bruce Gray (who handled arranging chores on some of the cuts) for their latest album, "Delusions" on the Gold Mind label, distributed by Salsoul Records.

    This time, it looks as if the trio can look forward to a period of considerable consistency if the runaway success of their first single from the sessions, "Doctor Love" is anything to go by.

    Rochelle Fleming comments: "Things just weren't happening over at Warners and we couldn't just have our career at a complete stand still. So when we spoke with Norman (Harris) — who's been with First Choice almost since the beginning (he originally discovered the trio) — he suggested we get working again."

    In between the expiry of their period with Warners and signing with Norman's Gold Mind set up, the girls worked "but not with any great consistency. We were really preparing for what's happening now because it's real difficult to work when you don't have any records out."

    Annette Guest explains that the new album is titled "Delusions" for a very definite reason. Everyone has always put us into a disco bag — which is cool but we want to show people that we can do everything else too. So it's a delusion on the part of everyone that we are just another disco act!

    "And on the album, you'll find a quota of disco material but there's also Stevie Wonder's "Love Having You Around" and "I Love You More Than Before" — that's one of the ballads. We wanted to express the variety that we're capable of and gradually, we're changing our show so that people don't hear just disco.

    "We've always tried to do that but there are times when it's difficult because people come with their pre-conception of what they expect."

    Certainly, the success of "Dr. Love" (who's 'got the power every hour' and 'can cure my every pain', or so we're led to believe!) has catapulted the ladies back into the best sellers.

    "We all chose the material — it was a collaborative effort between us and our manager, Stan Watson and our producers. We expected the single to do well but we didn't think it would do as well as it has.

    "It seems that Salsoul and Gold Mind and really backing us up far more than any of the other companies that we've been with ever has. They don't seem to want to push us under the rug the way the others did."

    With girl groups possible coming back into favour, Ursula Herring notes: "Maybe only The Emotions are our only really strong competi-this time, it's going to be for more isn't anyone else out there. Why? Because girl groups don't really stay together all that well. And that's because they just don't seem to get along!

    "However, we have all been together as a unit since 1972 and that's because we all want the same thing, we have the same goals, the same objectives. Like making more beautiful albums, doing more television, having a comedy/variety show, just making it to the big time — that's what we want."

    That seems like a strong possibility with the girls about to embark on a nationwide tour. They all seem agreed that they dig being on the road and are hoping that this time, it's going to be for mre than a few weeks.

    "Sure, you're bound to miss your family but then it's a whole lot of fun out there, working, entertaining people. Because that's what we're all about — bringing music to people."

    "Delusions" may well be the title of the trio's newest album but there's no question that the last thing they are going to do is delude anyone about their talent.

    It's likely that this time, it will be all stops out for First Choice, who were — we should just note — making disco records ("Armed", "Smarty Pants" etc.) before anyone had really brought the term into the significance it has today.

  • EVELYN THOMAS 2009 INTERVIEW

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    Whether you’re a fan of bustling, 70’s-driven Northern Soul, or all-out disco with a soulful vocal punch, chances are you’ve sung heartily along to a tune or two from Evelyn Thomas’s catalog before. The Chicago native got her professional start in the early 70’s doing stage work in New York for Broadway shows such as The Wiz before striking gold in the UK with 1975’s “Weak Spot” - the first of many collaborations with Northern Soul impresario Ian Levine. What followed over the next decade was a handful of striking LP’s that impressively melded the influences of classic R&B and dance-driven club sounds. 1978’s I Wanna Make It on My Own, ’79’s Have a Little Faith in Me, ’84’s High Energy, and ’86’s Standing at the Crossroads didn’t all hit paydirt for the gifted vocalist; but established her internationally as a commanding vocalist and performer equall y adept at tackling fiery dance numbers and smooth grooves - not to mention her own composition, “Spread Love,” from Fatback’s Is This the Future? LP.

    Since the mid-90’s, Thomas has been working as a free agent, lending her voice and songs to a number of varied projects. There’s her autobiographical stage show (and companion soundtrack) Witness; her collaborations with Danish soul/pop producer Soren Jensen on his 2008 all-new compilation CD, The Plan; and several works produced with Miami underground dance collective Groove Box.

    Speaking with Evelyn is just as enjoyable an occasion as listening to her recordings. Because of her down-to-earth, enthusiastic personality, interviewing her was more like having a fun conversation - as you will read and hear. She discusses her youth; her first professional experiences; the ins and outs of recording deals,;and several promising independent ventures here, in an exclusive interview conducted on June 29, 2009.


    Justin Kantor: It’s a thrill for me to be speaking with you. I’ve heartily enjoyed your voice and your music for the past 12 years, ever since a friend of mine made me a copy of that "High Energy" music video for New York Hot Tracks years ago. That was my first introduction to you and I’ve been hooked ever since. Your fiery vocal delivery, and your vivacious live performances are truly great.

    Evelyn Thomas: Thank you!

    JK: You’ve had quite an amazing and musically rich, impressive sales-wise career so far too, so I’ll try to do it justice by going through it. So, take me back a little bit. I know that you were born in Chicago. Tell me about your childhood, growing up there.

    ET: Well, I am the youngest of three girls, and I have one younger brother. I had one older brother, but he passed away; he had cerebral palsy. He was supposed to live until he was 18, but he actually made it to 21.

    JK: That’s a really tough disease to fathom. I’m sorry for your loss.

    ET: Well, that’s the way life is sometimes. He understood what was going on, so he knew, that’s the way it goes. So actually I have three sisters and one younger brother, and my childhood was very interesting. We had a lot of music in our house. My mother was the organ player for the church, and my grandmother used to sing in the choir, so there was always a lot of music in the house. My mother would have the piano and the organ rockin’ every day. That’s just the way it was in our house.

    JK: You guys were jamming.

    ET: Yeah, we were jamming all the time. When people came over, we had to dance for them and all kinds of stuff, so we had a good time in the house.

    JK: So music was in your blood from the beginning, pretty much?

    ET: Oh yes. My mother was a singer as well and as a matter of fact, when I sing, I can hear her voice.

    JK: Oh really? What was her name?

    ET: Her name was Doris.

    JK: Doris. Okay, so how did you feel about school, growing up?

    ET: School? I hated it. (laughs)

    JK: I was going to ask if you had any favourite subjects, but maybe not. (laughs)

    ET: No. But I went, you know, I just didn’t like it.

    JK: It’s good that you went. That probably helped a little bit, down the line.

    ET: It helped, but my interest was music, and they didn’t have any, so my opinion was, “Why am I here?”

    JK: I can understand, because if we hadn’t had music when I was in school, I probably would have liked it a lot less myself. You went to college though, right? Didn’t you graduate from a school in Chicago?

    ET: I graduated from Inglewood High School.

    JK: I was reading something about business studies you had done. I might have gotten confused, because I did read that after you finished school, you moved to New York for a little while.

    ET: Oh, I went to an acting school in New York and I did very well there. I did so well that they wanted me to travel. There was a play that they were travelling with, but I just couldn’t go at the time. I just wasn’t ready to go.

    JK: Weren’t you on The Wiz cast album?

    ET: I used to do the backup. When different plays came through Broadway, they had different people, and when you had certain people, like investors come to invest in your play, they would give a preview of the play, and I was in that troupe of people, that would do the music for The Wiz, or whatever play it was. There were quite a few plays, and that’s where that came from.

    JK: Okay, so maybe they used some of those performances from that group that you were in for the actual final product of the soundtrack.

    ET: Right.

    JK: Okay, because I had always wondered about that, if it was a different Evelyn Thomas. As you said, you moved back to Chicago shortly after that, right?

    ET: Yes. Well, I had never really moved back to Chicago. I moved back and forth. New York became my home for 12 years, and then after New York I moved to London, and stayed there for about another 5 to 6 years, and I was just back and forth. I was stationed in New York, and I never went back home to Chicago. After so many years of New York and London, I moved to Florida, and I’ve been in Florida ever since.

    JK: So for a while, you were bi-coastal and bi-continental, and then you just decided to settle down.

    ET: Yes, it was time to actually settle somewhere, to say, “This is home”.

    JK: I lived in New York for a couple of years, and I don’t know about you, but I could vouch for myself how financially difficult it could get.

    ET: Tell me about it.

    JK: It was on a trip back to Chicago where you had your chance meeting with Ian Levine, if I understand correctly?

    ET: Well, the way I met Ian Levine was, I was in this band called The Mood Mixers, and there was a guy in the band, his name was Pumpkin. I don’t know his real name. I just know that Pumpkin was the one who was instrumental in me meeting Ian Levine. Nobody had ever known that. He told me that he was going to try out for a recording contract, and he asked me to go along for the ride, so I did. After he got there, and he did an interview with Ian, I was sitting in the room with him, and Ian liked his voice, but he had somewhat of a skin condition that Ian didn’t think the public would be pleased with, which I thought was wrong, but anyway, you’ve got quite a few people in the business that have that, so it’s not a big deal. Anyway, he didn’t take him, so Pumpkin came to me and asked, “Why don’t you try out?”

    So anyway, Danny Leake asked Ian, because we were at Danny Leake’s house, and you know Danny Leake is the producer of Poison.

    JK: I’ve seen his name on all the Ian Levine disco-era records, and I didn’t realize he was the guy who did Poison too.

    ET: He’s a huge producer now. Danny Leake is the one who told Ian, “Sit down and listen to her” because he didn’t want to listen to me. He said, “Sit down and listen to her. You never know. So, I sang a song called ‘Neither One Of Us’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips and he jumped up off the couch, and he said, “Oh, you are wonderful! I’ve never heard such an angelic voice! Oh my God, would you like to be in the music industry?” So, that’s how it happened (laughs).

    JK: So, it was within a pretty quick time frame?

    ET: Yes. It happened real fast, and the next thing I knew, I was in London.

    JK: And you did the recording there for those first singles, ‘Weak Spot’ and ‘Doomsday’. Had you ever been overseas at that point, when you went over there? What was it like for you?

    ET: No, and it was probably a culture shock, if anything (laughs).

    JK: I remember seeing the performance of ‘Weak Spot’ on Top of the Pops, when you were in your cute little cap and all that, so you seemed to fit right in with the fashion sense.

    ET: That was so funny, because I really wasn’t ready for television, and I said, “Oh my God! What will I wear?” so I put on my little blue jean outfit with my little cap and I had some boots on, so it worked.

    JK: I liked it. I thought it was very clever.

    ET: Actually, the thing that really did excite me about that is the fact that Andy Williams was on the same show, and he had always been an idol of mine. Oh, I love the way that man sings. He is so smooth. I liked his vocals. Everything he’s ever done from movies, tracks that he’s done, well I got a chance to meet him! It was wonderful. That was the highlight of the whole thing for me.

    JK: Meeting an idol, definitely. Speaking of that, who were some of your influences growing up? I know obviously the church was a big influence, but what artists did you listen to, and who, if anybody did you want to emulate?

    ET: Well, one was Nancy Wilson, that’s for sure. She was the first. Classic. Then there was Gladys Knight and the Pips, and we had Dionne Warwick, and I liked a lot of the male groups, too.

    JK: Okay, like who?

    ET: The Four Tops, The Temptations, and people like that.

    JK: A lot of the Motown artists?

    ET: Yes, Motown for sure, and I love Diana Ross.

    JK: So, you did really well for yourself with ‘Weak Spot’ and obviously you recorded a few other singles, maybe not quite as successful, but that definitely at least became favourites of people who are into Northern Soul with ‘Love is Not An Illusion’, and ‘My Head’s In The Stars’. Those are some of my favourites. I read that in that period of time, you had some contractual difficulties with another manager that you had previously?

    ET: I had this guy named Vinnie Coleman, who used to be with Earth, Wind & Fire, very good friends with them and we all knew each other. Vinnie Coleman was a very good manager. What happened was, when Ian and I signed with each other, we signed a Recording Agreement, and it didn’t have anything to do with management. My manager asked him “Well, do you want Evelyn all the way, or what do you want to do?” So, Ian paid him some money, and I didn’t know I was being bought. He had paid him money to take me. My manager let me know. He said, “Look, this is what we did, and you’ll be better off with Ian because I really can’t do anything with you now.

    JK: So, tell me about the recording process back then on those early singles. What was that like? Obviously those songs have full orchestration and a really great sound, which you rarely get these days in R&B music. What was it like, working with Ian and the other musicians in the studio?

    ET: In the studio, it was a lot different than the way it is today. In the studio, of course we had all the musicians to come in. It’s not like today, where you can have this keyboard sound and that keyboard sound. We actually had the violinists come in. It was wonderful. We had one violin section come in, it was actually 10 to 15 violinists in the studio at one time, and we had the keyboardist come in, the bass player, and sometimes they would all be together playing. It was like doing a concert inside the studio, really.

    JK: It sounds like it on the records.

    ET: Oh yes, and Fiachra Trench who was a wonderful arranger and composer. Without "Fi," I don’t think there would be ‘High Energy’. Also Hans Zimmer. Hans Zimmer is the one that came in and actually pumped ‘High Energy’ to put a certain sound on it, and that’s what gave ‘High Energy’ its sound. That is from Hans Zimmer. That guy is brilliant.

    JK: So you’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty cool people who have went on to do a lot of other projects.

    ET: Oh, absolutely. I wish I could catch up with Hans right now (laughs).

    JK: That’s a good connection to have. So, after your initial success in England, did you feel that this was something that you wanted to be involved with on an ongoing basis with the music industry, or did you have doubts about it? How did you feel about it?

    ET: Ever since I was 7 years old, that was what I was going for, to be an entertainer and to sing.

    JK: So you were always sticking to the plan.

    ET: Yes, sticking to the plan. That was always my aspiration. Always.

    JK: Like you said, you moved over to England during this time period, around the late 70’s or sometime thereabout, and you did an album which was picked up by Casablanca, with ‘I Wanna Make It On My Own’. I know you were still relatively new to the industry at that point, but do you know anything about how that whole deal came about, being with Casablanca as opposed to 20th Century Records, which you had been signed to before?

    ET: Well, Ian was making all the deals, which I knew nothing about. Like I said, [oftentimes] you’re young and you don’t understand the industry.So I didn’t have any control over the deals he was making or how he was making them or what he was making them for.

    JK: One thing I’ve read about that album is how they apparently didn’t release a single from it, in the US at least, which is kind of unusual. I know in the UK that a label called Pye had licensed one of the songs for a single, which was ‘Thanks for Being There’ but in the US, from what I understand, Casablanca just put the album out there without any promotion, so I didn’t know if you knew anything about that.

    ET: I have no idea what happened with that. I don’t know what kind of money was transferred or passed or what. I never got a penny for it.

    JK: Then there was the album on AVI, Have a Little Faith In Me, which was short but an excellent album. I like all the songs on there a lot. From what I read, I know you recorded a few songs that were supposed to come out on Salsoul that weren’t released until a few years later. I’m talking about ‘Sleeze’ and ‘Summer on The Beach’ and ‘Love In The First Degree’.

    ET: That’s Ian Levine again, making all the deals. Nobody knows anything. I’m going to be honest with you here. I never got paid for ‘High Energy’.

    JK: Are you serious?

    ET: It sold 20 million copies. Let me tell you something, man. I never got paid. Ian Levine got paid, but he didn’t pay Fiachra Trench, he didn’t pay myself, or anybody, but he got paid.

    JK: That’s unbelievable. That record, to this day, is always being remixed, and it’s just an anthem.

    ET: Almighty Records just brought it out again, and here I am again, it gets me nothing. It’s one of the biggest records ever. I got my money through my shows, I’m also a fashion designer, and I do things outside.

    JK: I was thinking, since you design fashion, maybe we saw some in the video you did recently for YouTube?

    ET: Oh, yes.

    JK: Speaking of ‘High Energy’, that has been a defining song for you, so how does it feel to be associated with such an impactful song for dance music? It’s made its mark and continues to. It’s been a favourite of gay fans worldwide and audiences in general, when it comes to good music to dance to. What are your thoughts about the song, and the legacy it’s helped to create for you?

    ET: I’ll say this: That song really helped my career just soar. Monetarily, as far as the song was concerned, I wasn’t so happy, but the fans, and the things that the song actually did for me as an entertainer, it kept me alive. I appreciate each and every one of my fans. I really, really do, because without those fans, I really couldn’t have made it. The fans are the ones that kept me alive and kept me going.

    JK: So it’s kind of like the moral fiber, or spiritual support.

    ET: Oh, absolutely. When you see 20,000 heads going up and down at one time, that’s pretty high energy. It’s a big rush.

    JK: Well, it showed in your performances, because that was one of the things that really struck me when I’ve seen the different performances you did of that song in particular. You were high energy. You could really tell that you were into what you were doing, and singing. It was really convincing. It wasn’t like “Oh, it’s just another singer, singing a song that they were given”. You might not have been crazy about all the material, but whenever I’ve seen you performing your songs, you just seem to be really into it and really enjoying yourself.

    ET: Oh, I do. With every song that I sing, I enjoy myself. Most of the songs that I had were leftover songs that nobody wanted to do. They were all the hits.

    JK: Like ‘Masquerade’?

    ET: Not exactly ’Masquerade’. ’Masquerade’ was designed especially for me, but ‘High Energy’ and ‘Weak Spot’ were leftover songs.

    JK: Oh, that they were going to use for someone else or something?

    ET: No, they had Barbara Pennington, L.J. Johnson and a couple more people that had already picked all the songs they wanted, and ‘Weak Spot’ was the song that was left over. That’s when I first came in, and ‘Weak Spot’ is the only song that did anything. That was the biggest song, and nobody said they wanted it. It was a very simple song, but it was cute, and people loved it. ‘High Energy’ was one of those songs that was offered to a couple of singers and nobody wanted it.

    JK: Interesting. You said that ‘Masquerade’ was designed especially for you, and that brings me to a question I was going to ask you. With a lot of those songs from that era that you were doing, the lyrics were almost like a fantasy world. Listening to ‘Masquerade’ or ‘High Energy’, they have a very dramatic and out-there feel. What was your take on the songs, as far as the lyrics and all that?

    ET: Well, that’s Ian Levine’s lyrics, so he’s like that. That’s just the way he is.

    JK: When I listen to ‘Masquerade’ and hear you singing “When I’m giving interviews, and they ask me how I became the star”, it’s not your every day lyrics, so I just wondered, when you were singing it, if you were thinking “Yeah, I really relate to this”, or “This is a little bit out there”.

    ET: All of those are Ian Levine’s lyrics, so all the singers used to get on him about his lyrics, because he was kind of out to left field as far as we were concerned. He had a few songs where the lyrics were pretty cool, but some of them we were like “What are you saying?” The last 3 songs we did together, Ian and I wrote the lyrics together.

    JK: ’I Can’t Give You The World’; wasn’t that one of the songs?

    ET: Right.

    JK: I saw that on YouTube. It was a really nice song.

    ET: Yeah, and we wrote a song called ‘Million To One’, and we wrote another song called ‘Pounding the Pavement’. It’s a very good song. I think that’s the strongest. I think it’s his follow-up to ‘High Energy’.

    JK: It has a title that grabs you, so that’s good.

    ET: It’s heavy. It’s probably one of the best songs he’s written in a long time. We wrote that song together, we collaborated. I wouldn’t come back with him unless he said, “Let’s do collaboration”, because you grow up in the industry and you find out that all the money is in the writing. You’re not going to do that to me this time.

    JK: You learned the hard way.

    ET: Yes, my dear.

    JK: There was one song on the ‘High Energy’ album that you co-wrote, ‘Shy Guy’.

    ET: Yes. I loved that song.

    JK: On a different note, I wanted to ask you, and a friend of mine, when I told him I was interviewing you, he also said to ask you about this. I think it was actually done shortly before ‘High Energy’, but you had some involvement with the band Fatback.

    ET: Oh yes, Fatback. ‘Spread Love’.

    JK: And you wrote that song. I saw the name Jerry Thomas in the credits, now was that a relative of yours?

    ET: No, and everybody asked me, “Is that your brother?” but no we just happen to have the same last name. And I get paid very well from that.

    JK: That song was somewhat popular here on the R&B charts, as well as ‘Is This The Future’ you sang on that. So, how did you hook up with them? How did that come about? You were living in England at that point, right?

    ET: Bill Curtis, I used to sing with his orchestra, and they were a sister-band of Fatback. Fatback used to get so many gigs, that they had to give gigs away, so I used to sing with the orchestra that would go on these corporate gigs.

    JK: Was there a name for this group?

    ET: It was called Fatback. Fatback Band. It was just another Fatback band. He had 2 bands, and I was with that particular band. That’s how I met him, but I met him through another guy named Warren Daniels, and Warren introduced me to Bill Curtis. Bill Curtis is the owner of Fatback, and he’s been very good to me. ‘Spread Love… there’s a couple of other artists overseas that have done it. Quite a few people have re-done it and I’m quite happy. I hope they keep doing it.

    JK: Did you re-record the vocals for the remixes? It sounded like it was updated.

    ET: I did, and I plan on doing it again.

    JK: Hopefully that’s bringing you in a little bit of money, because I saw that’s for sale via download on a lot of stores.

    ET: Well also, I am going to re-record ‘High Energy’ with new vocals. Since I can’t get paid that way, I’ll get paid this way (laughs).

    JK:That's smart. You've got to be enterprising, that’s good.

    ET: Well, I have my own company now as well. I have an entertainment incorporated company.

    JK: What’s that called?

    ET: It’s called Eljopan Entertainment Incorporated.

    JK: Is that a combination of names?

    ET: Oh, you’re smart!

    JK: Well, I read that your real first name is Ellen.

    ET: Yes. There are 4 people inside the corporation.

    JK: I wanted to ask you: I guess it was around the late-80’s when you moved to Florida, because there was a record that you did there with a label called Paris International Records, called High Voltage.

    ET: Yeah, stick your fingers down your throat. That guy. Hmmmm. You know, he never paid me a dime for that, and I was real sick when I did that record. I had the flu or something, and I couldn’t sing how I wanted to.

    JK: I noticed you sounded a little different on it.

    ET: Yes. I was very, very sick that day, and I really didn’t want to record that day.

    JK: I don’t know if it’s something that had been recorded before it actually came out, but I think after you moved back to the States, there was one other single that came out that you did with Ian, which is ‘This is Madness’.

    ET: Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.

    JK: So, when you moved to Florida, was it your plan to lay low for a little while, or what did you have in mind when you moved back to the States?

    ET: When I moved back to the States, I thought, “I have to get back to a place where I can re-invent myself and collect myself, because this is the industry that I want to be in. This is what I want to do.” Being a fashion designer at the same time, I came back and started doing my prototypes with fashion, really getting into the business end of it, so putting together a company. My husband, by the way I’ve been married for 18 years this year, he’s a musician and an engineer, and we had been doing nothing but recording music, and holding it, and now we’re ready to release some things. We got fantastic backers, investors helping us, and we’re getting ready to do a tour. Things are working out.

    JK: Speaking of that, leads to several questions. One is: I’ve heard some of the music online from the ‘Witness’ CD that you did, which I really enjoyed, songs like ‘Take Me Home’ and I was wondering, is that something that you have an actual CD of it for sale, or what’s the deal with that?

    ET: We’re putting that together, and it will be for sale soon. We are re-recording a lot of that stuff, and having mixers doing some remixes of it. We’re also doing a jazz album, because that’s really where I came from. I was doing a lot of jazz before I ever met Ian. I’ve always loved dance music, so it was the two genres I loved. You notice I said Nancy Wilson.

    JK: I did see on one of the profiles that you put on-line, that you mentioned jazz was the main style on the Soundclick website, where I heard some of those Witness tracks. I really enjoyed that song ‘Take Me home’ and also ‘Do What Cha Gotta Do’.

    ET: (singing) Do what cha gotta do!

    JK: Did you actually tour at some point with ‘The Witness’ musical? I had heard about it, and this is going back 7 years.

    ET: I did, here in the States, and it went over really well.

    JK: Did you do a national tour of it?

    ET: I have some people who want to invest in it, and it will probably end up that way. It’s a great show.

    JK: Where did you perform it before, when you got the good reception?

    ET: We did it here in Miami, and another place called Fort Myers, and Sarasota. We were doing previews, just to see if people would like it, and they loved it! The house was packed, and they loved it.

    JK: Tell me about the play. What would you like to say about it?

    ET: It’s just the story of my life, never getting paid! (laughs)

    JK: So it’s a first-witness account.

    ET: It’s a story about perseverance, you know?

    JK: What made you decide to return to doing the type of music that you became famous with? You’ve been doing a lot recently. You’ve got the songs on The Plan album, and I know you have a couple of other tracks that haven’t been released yet, and you’ve been doing the stuff with Ian again. Was there a certain opportunity that came along that started it?

    ET: When I did the tour, the RTL tour, which was last June…

    JK: Is that Return to Love?

    ET: RTL is a tour that’s done overseas, in France. Well, a lot of different producers had asked me for some single deals, and since I was in business for myself, why not?

    JK: Do you license the songs to them, or how does that work?

    ET: If I have a song that I have written, I license the song to them. If they want to do something different, I license my voice to them.

    JK: Like an independent contractor.

    ET: Absolutely, and you know the music industry is bad for some, but good for others. It depends on how you perceive it, because for me, it’s good. I don’t have to depend on companies per se, to do certain things for me, because I have my own record label now. I don’t have to worry about that, and I can do my own single deals or what have you.

    JK: Even though, unfortunately with the illegal downloading, that’s a downside, but a real positive side is that artists who might not necessarily have a major label deal or be the commercial thing right now, I think it’s easier to carve your own niche, and you managed to find your fans online. I myself, I’ve rediscovered a lot of artists that I loved growing up, that I found out are still doing things, and they sell their product on CDBaby or iTunes or any number of these websites, and like you said, you can get paid for them.

    ET: Personally, what I think is happening to the industry, what’s happening with everything including the economy, is that technology has changed, and then everything had to change. Because of the change, we all have to change. Even in the industry, most of everything is downloads. Some people thought that the computer was something that was a want and not a need, but now they’re going to find out that the computer is a necessity, just like the telephone. You’ve got to have it to do business. You can’t do business without it, so technology has changed, the music industry has changed, even the grocery store has changed. Everything has changed. Jobs have changed, so we have to change with the times. We have to go back to school and re-educate ourselves, because some of us technically don’t know what the heck is going on. You need to catch up the people you’ve left behind.

    JK: It’s a whole new way of life in certain ways.

    ET: Yes. I don’t like to get into politics, but a lot of these problems we’re having are because of bad decisions and wrong decisions, but at the same time, technology has definitely changed all of our lives.

    JK: Oh, absolutely. You’re right. There were two other songs that you had mentioned, and I was wondering if they’re still coming out. One was ‘Prove It’ with Evolusound?

    ET: Yes, that’s Frank Savannah. I spoke to Frank, and he said he was waiting for some re-mixes to come back. That is a very powerful song.

    JK: I like the name itself, so it was interesting to hear it.

    ET: It’s about a young lady saying, “If you want me, you need to prove it.”

    JK: That sounds good. There was another one called ‘Another Night’?

    ET: Yes, that’s by Tony Powers.

    JK: Is that something that’s going to be released? Do you know anything about that?

    ET: Yes, it’s going to be released on Energise Records.

    JK: Is it under a certain name that we’ll have to look for?

    ET: Evelyn Thomas. It’s a single.

    JK: Because there were all these groups, I know even back in the 90’s, there was Groove Box, featuring Evelyn Thomas on a couple of songs. Okay, well I look forward to hearing those. Was it while you were in France that you hooked up with Soren Jensen for The Plan?

    ET: Oh, God that’s a funny story. When I came over from the RTL tour, I was in France, and Ian Levine says “Evelyn, since you’re going to be in France a while, why don’t you fly over, or take the train over to London?” I said, “Okay”. He introduced me to Soren. He said, “I have a friend, his name is Soren Jensen, and he’s doing one of his first albums. He would love for you to sing on this album.” Since I was doing my own deals and stuff, I said, “Okay, just give me his number.” So, he gave me his number reluctantly, and we talked, and that’s how I met Soren. When I came over to London, Soren was there working with Ian at the time, but he and Ian had differences of opinion later, and Soren ended up with his own company, and him and Ian sort of parted. It was the best thing he could have done for himself, really, and that’s how ‘Stick To The Plan’ came about.

    JK: Since you wrote that with Soren, what inspired that song?

    ET: Well, Soren and I wanted to write something together. I told him that the only way I would do any business with him, is that I had to be in on the writing. So, we came up with this song, and he called it ‘Stick To Your Guns’. I said, “There’s a lot of guns going around lately. People are walking into places, shooting folks. You don’t want to do that. Why don’t we just say Stick To The Plan?” and that’s how the title came around. We started writing and corresponding back and forth over the Internet before I met him, so the song was written by Clive Scott. Clive Scott wrote all the music. Soren’s whole album is Clive Scott, and for the last 16 years of Ian Levine’s music, that’s Clive Scott.

    JK: I heard that he was very instrumental in his career.

    ET: Clive Scott also wrote ‘Pounding the Pavement’, which I’m telling you right now, it is another ‘High Energy’. That thing is powerful.

    JK: ‘Stick to the Plan’ is a great song, great re-mixes.

    ET: ‘Infidelity’ is doing pretty good too. JK: I saw that he’s starting to get it out to more people. There are some retailers in the U.S. now that are carrying it online, and I was informing him about some specialty stores here in the States that might want to carry it as well. I know initially, it was just through his site, and a couple others.

    ET: Soren is a very nice person. I like him a lot. He’s honest in business, keeps everything above-board, and I like his ethics, I like the way he treats people, and he’s a good guy in the business. That’s hard to find.

    JK: What music do you like these days?

    ET: I’ve been listening to a little bit of everything. I’m very interested in the Trance scene. It’s interesting, how they take different music and slow it down a little bit, put it in these different mixes. I like it. I love music, period. I like R&B, I love me some good dance music! I like something that’ll make you move. I kind of like the new R&B that’s coming out too, and I like that music that’s overseas. It’s a new type of music, and I’m trying to think of the name of it right now. It’s very interesting, kind of slowed-down R&B-ish.

    JK: Like Duffy?

    ET: Duffy, there it is! Yes, I like Duffy. All she does is cry, but I like her. (laughs)

    JK: I’m going to have to listen to more of her music, because I didn’t know that she was crying all the time.

    ET: She’s in a limousine, or some ride she’s in, and all she’s doing is crying, and the darn thing’s not going anywhere, but she’s so theatrical, that you can watch her cry for a whole 7 minutes, it’s cool. I like her. I like her a lot.

    JK: She seems very talented. That first song she had that was really big had a real classic kind of feel to it.

    ET: It’s a new music that’s coming out. To be honest, I’ve written quite a bit of that type of music and held it.

    JK: I was going to ask if you planned on doing any of that when you mentioned that you were enjoying it.

    ET: Yes, we’ve already written some. We did that way before it came out, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

    JK: What about your fashion company? Are you selling stuff now?

    ET: I have a line of fashion. When it’s coming out, I have no idea at this particular time, but I’m working on it, I have all my prototypes, I have everything I need to work with. I’m working on some prints.

    JK: Is it something you plan to sell online?

    ET: I’m going to sell online, and in the stores. I’ve got quite a few people interested in it; some big money people that love what I do, so we have to take it one step at a time with that. You know when you step out on that one, you had better step out good!

    JK: Step out on the runway in full force.

    ET: If you step out wrong, you can forget it.

    JK: A lot of famous singers have started lines, and they are disasters because it’s not well planned or executed.

    ET: Well, I’ve been sewing since I was 7, so I’m really hands-on in everything. I actually make the garments myself for the samples.

    JK: There is one other thing that I wanted to ask you. Have you ever kept in touch with any of those artists who were in that initial stable of artists that you went overseas with, like Barbara Pennington or L.J. Johnson?

    ET: Barbara and I speak at least once a week. As a matter of fact, I spoke to Barbara earlier.

    JK: How is she doing these days?

    ET: She’s doing fine! Barbara is just as funny as she wanna be. She’s as pretty as ever. That girl can sing! Oh my goodness. She’s working on some things herself; she picked herself back up, so she’s doing some things of her own. She’ll be doing some things with my company.

    JK: Is she there in Florida as well?

    ET: No, Barbara is in St. Louis. JK: She’s closer to the home turf. What about L.J. Johnson?

    ET: She stays in touch with L.J. I spoke to L.J. a coupe of months ago. He’s doing fine. He just retired from being a postman.

    JK: He still did that all those years?

    ET: Yes, he just retired, so he’s cool. He’s doing some music now. We plan to get together, the three of us.

    JK: That would be great, a triple threat.

    ET: I have a studio at my house, so they are going to come down and we’re going to record together.

    JK: That would be awesome! I know a lot of people will love that. These recent songs you’ve been doing, have they been recorded in your studio?

    ET: Absolutely.

    JK: The ones we were talking about, like ‘Prove It’, ‘Another Night’ and all those?

    ET: No, ‘Prove It’ was recorded in London at Laurent Schark’s studio.

    JK: Wasn’t there one song, ‘Why Must The Sun Rise’ that you did in your studio?

    ET: ‘Why Must The Sun Rise’ was recorded in my studio. That’s a beautiful song.

    JK: It is really nice. You were talking about the slowed-down stuff, and there was a re-mix on that bonus disc that I really liked. It’s neat to hear a slow song like that re-mixed, but it’s not done like dance, but still it’s a really good re-mix. What is your studio like? Is it computer-based, a big console, or what kind of setup do you have?

    ET: I use ProTools and computers. Everything is digital. It’s a digital world.

    JK: Are you going to be doing any touring or performing in the near future?

    ET: Yes, we are putting together a new tour right now as a matter of fact. I have a few investors who want to make sure that my tour goes well. It won’t take off until next year, but we’re putting everything together. It takes a while to put that together.

    JK: Will there be any of it in the States, or is it just going to be overseas?

    ET: It’s going to be both. We may do Statewide first, and then come overseas.

    JK: I would love to see a show of yours. I’ve never had the opportunity, so that would be great.

    ET: We have 3 backup singers now, we have a couple of dancers; we have an 11-piece band. It’s a live show.

    JK: Okay, so not just track dates, it will be a band.

    ET: No, but some would be tracked, it depends where we are.

    JK: I guess it’s a matter of space sometimes.

    ET: Right.

    JK: Well that sounds exciting! I’m so glad I got to talk with you. It’s been a real pleasure. You’re so sweet.

    ET: Well, thank you so much for calling!

    Justin Kantor is a freelance journalist based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He has published his own magazine, The Hip Key, as well as contributing prolifically to the All-Music Guide and Berklee College of Music’s The Groove. He can be reached by e-mail at justvox@aol.com

  • Rita Ora rapt op nieuwe album Prince

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    Prince heeft een rap gemaakt met Rita Ora. Het liedje staat op zijn nieuwe plaat die later dit jaar moet verschijnen. Dat zegt de zanger in de Amerikaanse krant Star Tribune. Ora liet eerder al weten met hem in de studio te zijn geweest.

    De 56-jarige zanger wil het liedje zo snel mogelijk uitbrengen zodat het nummer 'vers' blijft. "Tijd is geld voor sterren als Rita die geld kunnen verdienen door alleen een bepaald soort make-up of sieraden te dragen", zegt Prince over de Britse zangeres, die bekendstaat om haar gevoel voor stijl en mode.

    De zanger brengt dit jaar ook de plaat Plectrum Electrum uit met zijn band 3rd Eye Girl. Voor Prince is albums uitbrengen belangrijker dan singles. "Alle nummer 1-hits of liedjes in de top 40 zijn minstens zes maanden geleden verschenen", zegt de zanger, die in 2010 zijn laatste plaat uitbracht. "Ik hoef niet zo nodig te worden gedraaid op de radio. Ik ben al mijn hele leven op de radio."

    Door: Novum

  • Zoon Diana Ross, Evan, gaat trouwen

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    De zoon van Diana Ross, Evan gaat in augustus in het huwelijksbootje en moederlief zal daar ook gaan optreden.
    De insider onthult ook dat dochter Rhonda Ross Kendricks haar moeder zal bijstaan bij haar optreden. De bruiloft zal naar verluidt plaatsvinden bij één van de huizen van Diana, waarschijnlijk in Los Angeles of in Connecticut.

    Bij de gasten zal zeker Stevie Wonder en Smokey Ribinson zijn. Het is het eerste huwelijk van Evan, van Ashlee is het tweede. Zij heeft ook al een zes jarig zoontje van haar vorige huwelijk.

  • Michael Jackson vandaag vijf jaar dood

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    Het is vandaag exact vijf jaar geleden dat zanger, danser en icoon Michael Jackson overleed aan een overdosis medicijnen. Maar hoewel hij als persoon al vijf jaar niet meer onder ons is, blijft de King of Pop nog altijd populair. 

    Er wordt nog steeds veel geld aan Jackson verdiend. De Britse krant Daily Mail stelt dat er in de afgelopen vijf jaar 445 miljoen euro is verdiend aan de King. De recentste single van Michael Jackson kwam vorige maand nog uit.

    Met behulp van Justin Timberlake is met oude geluidsopnames een compleet nieuwe track uitgebracht: Love Never Felt So Good. In Nederland is dit nummer erg goed ontvangen. Verder worden er nog steeds postume albums uitgebracht, waarvan Xscape het nieuwste is. Voorts zal Justin Bieber nog een duet met hem opnemen, eveneens aan de hand van eerdere opnames. Binnenkort brengen ook Michaels lijfwachten een boek uit. 

    Overdosis

    De doodsoorzaak van Michael Jackson is een overdosis medicijnen, voorgeschreven door zijn lijfarts. Deze arts, Conrad Murray, diende Jackson de fatale dosis propofol toe. In oktober 2011 werd hij veroordeeld voor dit feit. Na twee jaar kwam Murray wegens goed gedrag weer vrij. 

    Misbruik

    Naast zijn danspasjes, typische stem en pakkende nummers wordt Jackson ook nog steeds in verband gebracht met zijn vermeende kindermisbruik. Een nieuwe aanklacht is onlangs nog ingediend. De advocaat van Jackson liet echter weten hier niet bang voor te zijn.

    Hij leeft nog
     
    Zoals iedere dood van een gevierd persoon, wordt ook het overlijden van Michael Jackson in twijfel getrokken. Waarom reed de ambulance die Michael afvoerde niet weg met sirenes en alarmlichten? Waarom is er maar één foto van dat bewuste moment? Waarom wilde de familie een begrafenis met een gesloten kist?

    Vragen, vragen, vragen. Op diverse websites worden deze pijnpunten aangesneden. Wie Michael Jackson ziet lopen, moet even een berichtje sturen naar www.michaeljacksonsightings.com
     
    Broers Jackson
     
    Op 30 juli aanstaande treden Jacksons broers op in Paradiso, Amsterdam. Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon en Tito Jackson, beter bekend als The Jacksons, waren al eens eerder in Nederland. In 2012 traden ze ook al op. Na de dood van hun broer besloten ze in 2009 weer te gaan toeren. Kortom: ook al is hij dan al een lustrum niet meer onder de levenden, de herinnering aan en de muziek van Michael Jackson leeft voort.
  • Amsterdam krijgt gedenkplaats Michael Jackson

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    Michael Jackson krijgt een tijdelijke gedenkplaats in Amsterdam-Zuid. Het Michael Jackson Memorial Billboard komt op het Gustav Mahlerplein en toont een zwart-witfoto uit 1977 nam van de King of Pop in de Jordaan, tijdens zijn eerste bezoek aan de hoofdstad.

    De foto is van Claude Vanheye, de vaste huisfotograaf van Jackson. Ook nu legt hij regelmatig de andere leden van de familie Jackson op de gevoelige plaat.

    Het billboard wordt geplaatst bij de Zuidas in de wijk Buitenveldert, waar veel financiële instellingen en advocatenkantoren zijn gevestigd. "We hebben voor deze locatie gekozen omdat het een internationale plek is waar veel jonge mensen komen", zegt een woordvoerder van Dienst Zuidas donderdag tegen Novum Nieuws.

    De onthulling vindt woensdag plaats, precies vijf jaar na het overlijden van Jackson. Hij overleed in 2009 aan een overdosis van het zwaar bedwelmende middel propofol.

  • DJ Cassidy heeft groot vertrouwen in 'sterrenalbum'

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    DJ Cassidy is vol zelfvertrouwen over zijn debuutalbum Paradise Royale. De Amerikaanse dj, die werd geboren als Cassidy Durango Milton Willy Podell, haalde sterren als Robin Thicke, Mary J. Blige, Usher, R. Kelly en John Legend over een liedje te zingen op zijn plaat. "Ik ben erg overtuigd van mezelf", vertelt DJ Cassidy aan Novum Nieuws.

    "Het heeft me vier jaar gekost om deze liedjes te creëren en het waren de meest onwerkelijke jaren uit mijn leven", aldus de artiest. "Als ik niet het idee had dat ik er klaar voor was, zou ik hier niet zitten." Dat hij met sterren werkte en voor grote namen heeft opgetreden, benadrukt DJ Cassidy maar al te graag. "Ik draaide voor Jennifer Lopez, Jay-Z en Beyoncé, Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell", somt hij op, om vervolgens te laten vallen dat hij heeft opgetreden voor Barack Obama. "Ik was de eerste dj die bij de inauguratie van een nieuwe president draaide en ik was de eerste dj die in het Witte Huis draaide."

    Toch was de totstandkoming van Paradise Royale volgens DJ Cassidy geen eitje. Ruim twintig jaar geleden, toen de Amerikaan 9 jaar oud was en een draaitafel voor zijn verjaardag vroeg, ging hij zich verdiepen in verschillende soorten muziek. Aanvankelijk luisterde Cassidy alleen naar hiphop, maar later realiseerde hij zich naar eigen zeggen dat hiphop een mengeling was van verschillende stijlen. "Ik heb toen als missie opgevat om de dj te worden die alle stijlen kan draaien voor alle mensen, overal ter wereld."

    Zijn werk als dj bracht Cassidy op jonge leeftijd, toen hij net klaar was met zijn middelbare school, al in steden als New York, Los Angeles en Miami. Later ging hij ook elders in de wereld optreden. "Op een gegeven moment kwam ik tot de conclusie dat de soulmuziek van eind jaren zeventig, begin jaren tachtig de belangrijkste dansmuziek aller tijden is. Iedereen voor wie ik draaide, danste op die muziek en iedereen kreeg er een lach van op z'n gezicht."

    DJ Cassidy begon aan een missie om nieuwe dansmuziek te creëren. Hij trommelde muzikanten op die hadden gewerkt aan albums van Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire en strikte Nile Rodgers en Ray Parker Jr. "De afgelopen vier jaar heb ik de meest legendarische muzikanten aller tijden bij elkaar gebracht."

    Het vinden van zangers voor de nummers waarvan hij het fundament creëerde, ging soms iets moeizamer. "Sommigen kende ik ze al, zoals John Legend. Maar sommigen niet. Om R. Kelly te overtuigen ben ik acht keer naar zijn huis in Chicago gevlogen, zes keer naar een optreden van hem gegaan en heb ik zeven uur voor hem in de rij gestaan bij een signeersessie van zijn boek. En zo heb ik voor iedere artiest op het album wel een verhaal."

    Wat de volgende missie wordt van DJ Cassidy, weet hij nog niet. "Het album is nog niet uit, dus ik kan nog niet verder kijken. We zijn in het tweede bedrijf van een Broadway-show die Paradise Royale heet."

    Door: Novum

  • DR. BUZZARD'S ORIGINAL SAVANNAH BAND 1976 INTERVIEW

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    In person in New York City, October 1976

    "David Nathan spends an enlightening few hours with five very intelligent but pretty crazy people who are really shaking the industry up..."


    IT'S A safe bet that any time you turn on the radio or go to a disco in New York right now, you're going to hear something from Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. It might be 'Cherchez La Femme', which gay discos were playing when the group's debut R.C.A album was released back in June. Or 'I'll Play The Fool', which was the first single from the album. Or just about any of the other tracks from this unusual album which has made the four-man, one-woman team the talk of the town.

    Describing the members of the band is like describing their music: it's safest just to say that the people and the music are just "out there" – in the nicest possible way, of course!

    An interview with Savannah is certainly an experience – one which, in this case, lasted some three hours! They are all very intelligent, very humourous and pretty crazy people and if you were looking for a group to really shake the industry up, then you need look no further!

    Savannah is Stony Browder Jr. and August Darnell, the gentlemen responsible respectively for the music and lyrics to all the compositions on the album (also in charge of guitar & piano and bass as well as vocals); Mickey Sevilla on drums; "Sugar Coated" Andy Hernandez on vibes; and Cory Daye, featured vocalist. Percussion on the album was also supplied by Don Armando Bonilla who was not around for the interviews and who is evidently not actually a member of the group.

    The instantaneous most striking feature about the band is their clothes. And their clothes are an integral part of the group's lifestyle and, consequently, their music. Going back to the beginning: "Stony and I grew up in the Bronx as street hoodlums," reports August. "And the roots for what we're doing today were planted there. We used to watch all the late, late shows and the old movies with people like Crawford, Bette Davis, Clark Gable and so on. And we dug the grandiose way we saw those characters presented. We dreamt about becoming like those people – they were our heroes."

    Stony, apparently, got into music through his father, "and we went through a whole host of groups. Forming our own, joining others. And we were in one, The Strangers, where we all wore shades! Throughout the sixties, whilst we were at high school, we played everywhere we could – on college campuses, wherever. Then we came to the seventies and split. We'd made some demos – mostly by sneaking into studios and doing deals with the engineers to come in late at night when no one was around! We signed with Roulette Records as writers but never got anything out of that. And then we were with A.B.C. and Pickwick. In 1970, we had a record out, 'Oh Black Day' but it disappeared!"

    Temporarily disheartened, the group that existed then disbanded. "I'd gotten into writing and was developing as a playwrite. And I was considering going out to LA. because I figured I had more chance of making it there. It took Stony about 45 minutes to convince me to give the music thing one more try," says August. "So we did." The two gentlemen contacted Cory Daye who they'd known from their earlier years, only to find that she was working in a bar on 8th Avenue in New York as a topless waitress. Cory was more than happy to join them – and then, as the story goes, there were three.

    No. 4 materialized when the trio contacted a drummer named Buddy, who was not available and recommended Mickey Sevilla, who was studying at the Manhattan School of Music and had majored in the subject. "He insisted that we rehearse with a metronome to get our timing right! And he's a serious student – rehearses several hours day when none of the rest of us are!"

    Which left the keyboards' position vacant. "We must have gone through 13 or 14 piano players between 1974 and when we ran into 'Sugar Coated' Andy. We didn't ask to hear him, just asked him to fill in a questionnaire and since his answers were acceptable, we took him on. A rather unorthodox method of hiring musicians. "Yes, that audition was really somthing," relaes Andy. "But the group has developed because the most important thing to all of us is that we get along. And we developed an instant rapport. Consequently, a lot of the personality problems that usually develop between people in groups were avoided." August and Stony re-iterate: "We didn't care so much about the musician's skill as their personalities. After all, everyone has varying degrees of skill."

    Now a unit, the group set about rehearsing and getting to know each other. So where did the name and the whole concept for their music (and lifestyle) come from? "The original Dr. Buzzard was a practitioner of voodoo in Savannah, Georgia, and a few of us are into that – we studied it. And Stony's first manager, who also happens to come from Savannah, was named Karras Buzzard. And he was the one that told Stony about the magical influence that clothes can have. That was about five years ago and he told him about the psychological effect on the soul that wearing particular clothes can have."

    Which is why Mr. Browder Jr. began wearing baggy pants and generally dressing in the style of the thirties and forties. "This country is built on decadence," states Stony. "And only being 200 years old, it just shot up and America has the nerve and sassyness and brattiness to walk around, sticking our noses in other people's business and daring anyone to sass us back! So we wanted to reflect that attitude. It's like being teenagers amongst gangsters. And we wanted to represent the good in American music. Swing music – from which jazz came – was the most expressive style, the ultimate rebellion. And we idolized that music. The way people like Duke Ellington put music together almost creating new instruments – the way the music of that era interweaves."

    Now, having selected a mode of dress ("when I first saw it," recalls August, "I laughed. Before I knew it, I was wearing baggy pants too!"; "And now I'm wearing these clothes all the time," adds "Sugar-Coated" Andy, "it's been like freeing my soul. At first, I thought they were ridiculous but now, they're part of me they've taken over!") and a style of music, the five personalities began "hanging out together, finding each other's sensitive points, dating each other's women, becoming comrades. And then, we began rehearsing. We were all incompetent at our instruments so we got more serious because it matters in the final product. You can have imagination and improvisation within a structure and we have always had a lot of flexibility. We even changed things whilst recording. In fact, some of it still isn't perfect. There are different kinds of tempos involved: sambas, mambos. Our music is formed in layers and our personalities are reflected in every measure. When things didn't quite gell at rehearsals sometimes, the group "just hung out some more! Just to forget what went wrong! In fact, we did demos but nothing was ever completed."

    Enter the picture one Susandra Minsky, a friend of the group from way back. The lady came in to handle the administrative end of the group's business because she felt that the tapes she'd heard had potential. However, all the major record companies didn't. "We ran into Ron Moseley, who was then at Polydor. Or rather Susandra did. And he wasn't interested but suggested she take them down to Chappell's Music."

    At this time, Ms. Minsky felt that she should try and get Stony and August jobs as writers "because we didn't seem to be making any headway any other way." Which brought the group into contact with Mitchell Schoenbaum and subsequently, Tommy Mottola (the gentleman behind Hall & Oates). "Susandra used her feminine airs to get Tommy to listen" and the lady in question interrupts by stating that "I didn't give anything up either!" and eventually, she managed to get Mitchell and Mr. Mottola to come down to an audition.

    This came only after "everyone had turned us down. They found the music very confusing. We got them at least to that point of coming down to see us. But that didn't seem to do it. Clive Davis (of Arista) came down after our producer Sandy Linzer contacted him.

    "You see, Tommy and Andy had agreed to work with us but we needed to find a company to back us up. We were doing auditions of life – sometimes six a day! Well, when Clive came down, we were all excited. Here is the Mr. Davis: and he stays for about six minutes, tells Sandy that he's just embarrassed to stay a minute longer!

    "And Arif Mardin comes down from Atlantic, listens and just puts his arms around all of us and says nothing! Even R.C.A. didn't want us but through Tommy's connection with the company through Hall & Oates, they agreed to sign us up."

    Which was far from the end of the battle for the band. "We went to a basement in New Jersey and the album took six and a half months to make – about 600 studio hours. And R.C.A. were doing their pieces! We wouldn't allow anyone from R.C.A. to the studio to hear what was happening and of course, we'd told them that a project like the one we were doing couldn't be done on a small budget. "Also, before we'd started recording, we'd lost our lead singer, a gentleman by the name of Screamin' Bill Dorsey – about a month before. We just didn't feel that he'd really fit in so he left. So there we are ready to go with no lead singer. We must have listened to a million people but none of them seemed to fit. So we ended up doing it all ourselves."

    Even with the eventual release of the album in June (several months after the album was promised to R.C.A.), no one knew what to expect from the public. And the standing joke was that nothing would happen – few people (even within the company) really believed in the album's potential. And then the gay discos jumped on it.

    "The album's success has a lot to do with a number of things. Being in the right place at the right time. And the definite rise of the homosexual community – the liberalism, the fact that there is money in that community. Just being third world children – the receptiveness of people."

    Before R.C.A. or anyone else knew it. Savannah's album was being played at discos and parties and everywhere. And black radio had picked it up, even though the group had been placed fairly and squarely in the pop department at R.C.A.

    The rest, as they say, is history: the album is gold, 'Cherchez La Femme' is now a single doing very nicely thank you, and Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band are hotter than hot. "The object in our music is to present as many slices of life as we can. Stony's music is picture-oriented, it conjures up images," states August. "Each one evokes a different spirit. Like 'Cherchez La Femme' suggested a certain French light-headedness.

    "It stems from the cliche which means simply that whenever something goes wrong, you don't have to look further than the nearest woman to find the reason! And 'I'll Play The Fool' – that's about puppy-love. The songs weave stories." The group make no bones about the way they feel about the industry: "once we make what we need, we want to get out. But there is a public and they are the ones that we look to.

    "A certain marriage is created between the band and the public. It's like we were in Baltimore signing autographs in a record store and hearing the kids sing 'I'll Play The Fool' just gave us goose-bumps. It's a strange, great feeling!"

    The future? "Sugar-Coated" Andy: "More interviews!". Mickey: "To not grow up!". August: "Apotheosis of mulatto madness – that's what we want to become." Cory: "Die!" (after throwing a cushion at R&B writer!). Stony: "Just play it by ear."

    Factually, the group will be doing television extensively soon and expect to start live performances at the beginning of 1977. "And we're going to start a dance school. Oh, and make a movie, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band In The Land Of Giz – you can have a part – just playing yourself!"

    Sitting with Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band might wear most folk to a frazzle - it's not often that an interview includes having a journalist hit by a pillow as occured during this particular session! But it gave your columnist a few hours of much-treasured sanity – because I dig where they're coming from and where their music is coming from! So, (as we say in England) "yah boo sucks" to those of you who don't!!

  • CON FUNK SHUN MARCH 1978 INTERVIEW

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    The Magnificent Seven hail from the West Coast, but the band was born in Memphis.


    WHENEVER you think of the great Memphis acts of the past, the vast majority are native Memphians. However, one of the city's current crop of banner carriers is Confunkshun, a seven piece, self-contained band from California and who are currently as close to the top of the Stateside charts as you can get with the quaintly titled disco-funk gem, "Ffun".

    "Sure, it was just a gimmick adding that extra 'f'," admits the group's spokesman, Michael Cooper. "It gave us the edge and identifies us with something original.'

    Im common with so many of the new wave Memphis superstars, Confunkshun's roots are indirectly with the Stax family. However, their earliest roots date back a full decade to when guitarist Cooper and drummer, Louis McCall, formed a duo during their high school days back in Vellejo, California, a small city some twenty miles from the cosmopolitan city of San Francisco.

    "We called ourselves Project Soul," Michael recalls, "and we used to just play small gigs with me on piano and Louis on drums — and we'd do a little bit of singing. We never earned any money, of course, but it was a good way to get ourselves known."

    It was in 1969 that the band expanded to seven and incorporated Felton Pilate on all horn and keyboard instruments; Karl Fuller, trumpet; Paul Harrell, tenor/alto sax; Cedric Martin, bass; and Danny Thomas, keyboards. After a frustrating spell in their native California, they were hired by the Soul Children as the latter's backing band and, as such, appeared in the "Wattstax" movie.

    Directly after the Wattstax project, the set went back to Memphis with the Soul Children, changed their name to Confunkshun and, once settled in Memphis, started to carve out a niche for themselves.

    "It was in 1973 that we joined Fretone Records," explains Michael, "and we had a couple of local hits with 'Clique' and 'Mr. Tambourine Man' but neither of them went national.

    "Shortly after, we were introduced to Charlie Fach (Mercury's Vice-President) by a friend of ours who ran a booking agency in Memphis and who had met with Mr. Fach via their mutual dealings with Jerry Lee Lewis. When Mr. Fach came to town to sign the Barkays, we were set up with an audition and he seemed impressed enough with us to work out some kind of an arrangement with Fretone whereby we were able to move on to Mercury."

    In October of 1976, the initial Mercury album on the group — tagged simply "Confunkshun" was released and to be really honest didn't meet with that much acceptance.

    "That album was part of the settlement between Mercury and Fretone," Michael explains, "and most of the material was a year and a half old so we really didn't expect that much from it.

    "When we were with Fretone we had tried to get Skip Scarborough involved in our recordings but the company's budget was too low to allow it so when we started to record the first real album for Mercury — that was in March or April of 1977 — we naturally got in touch with Skip again.

    "It was actually Felton who had known Skip, through their mutual friendship and working relationship with Creative Source. But, as heavily as Skip is involved in our work, we basically take the material to him and he smoothes out the rough edges. For example, on the 'Secrets' album, only the title track is really heavily influenced by Skip.

    "We have always tried to be a happy band and to get the feeling of happiness over in our music and that's why we are so pleased that 'Ffun' has met with so much acceptance because that really typifies what we believe in.

    "Now we expect "Confunkshunize Ya" to be the next single but actually 'Ffun' — which is a double dose of 'fun'! — is still climbing up the pop charts. And, I guess that if it goes all the way on the pop charts, we may consider releasing 'Secrets' as a single because it is so commerical."

    Despite their California bloodlines, Confunkshun still associate themselves whole-heartedly with the Tennessee city.

    "There is such an air of excitement about Memphis," Michael observes, "that you can't fail to be captivated by it. We were and that is what has kept us here so long. And the city has been through a dead period but things are really livening up now.

    "Sure, it was sad to lose Elvis but right now there is Al Green, there's all of the activity with Stax being reformed and, of course, the efforts of our own company, Mercury. And really, since Confunkshun itself was actually born in Memphis, we consider ourselves now to be a Memphis group."

    Having just torn America apart on a road tour with Rose Royce and the Barkays — the aftermath of which has really lifted "Ffun" to its lofty placing — the seven magnificents are currently by now in San Francisco, hard at work with Skip Scarborough.

    "Our aim is always to improve," Michael points out, "and so while our next album will basically be the same kind of thing as 'Secrets', it'll be that much better. I would describe Confunkshun's music as a cross between contemporary funk and simple love.

    "We have always played our music to make us happy ourselves and we then set out to try and get that feeling of happiness over to our audience."