Inspired by the August 29 birthdays of Michael Jackson, Dinah Washington, MeShell NdegeOcello, Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, Pebbles, Kevie Kev and Fairground Attraction’s Eddi Reader.
Inspired by the August 25 birthdays of Elvis Costello, Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy, The O’Jays’ Walter Williams, Digital Underground’s Shock G, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Billy Ray Cyrus, K7, Willy DeVille, Weather Report’s Wayne Shorter, The Korgis’ James Warren, Leonard Bernstein, Tim Burton, Sean Connery and John Savage.
Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the June 3 birthdays of Curtis Mayfield, Deniece Williams, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, C + C Music Factory’s David Cole, Suzi Quatro, Allen Ginsberg, Dan Hill, Boots Rudolph, Republica’s Saffron, Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones, and Beabadoobee, and the June 2 birthdays of The Rolling Stones‘ Charlie Watts, Chubby Tavares, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley, Bangles’ Michael Steele, Jimmy Jones, Skillz, Otis Williams, David Dundas, Marvin Hamlisch, Sammy Turner, and Robin Lamont.
Inspired by the May 28 birthdays of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, Gladys Knight, Fine Young Cannibals’ Roland Gift, Kylie Minogue, Adam Green, The Presidents of the United States of America’s Chris Ballew, the Caesar’s Cesar Vidal, Fam-Lay and Patricia Quinn.
You may not know their names, but you know many of their songs. Individually, but more often as a team, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and/or produced a lot of timeless classic songs in the soul music genre. They were the pre-eminent rhythm and blues architects of the first half of the 1970s, and their production style paved the way for disco, before that genre got watered down. Plenty of their records found their way to the top of the pop charts as well.
Today is Kenny Gamble’s 75th birthday. To celebrate, Tunes du Jour presents a playlist of twenty great Gamble and Huff sides.
On May 31, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring June 2016 as African American Music Appreciation Month. The designation has actually been around since 1979, when President Carter commemorated the cultural and financial contributions of music made by African Americans at a reception at the White House. Back then it was Black Music Month, an idea conceived by music industry executive and radio personality Dyana Williams and her husband, Kenny Gamble.
You may not know Gamble’s name, but you know his music. The co-founder of Philadelphia International Records with Leon Huff, Gamble and his music partner have written and produced hits for Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Dusty Springfield, the Jacksons, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Jerry Butler, Archie Bell and the Drells, the Three Degrees, Joe Simon, MFSB, Billy Paul, the Soul Survivors, Teddy Pendergrass, the Intruders, Lou Rawls, People’s Choice and the Jones Girls.
Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party celebrates African American Music Appreciation Month with twenty dance floor packers, kicking off with a few of Gamble and Huff’s gems.
From the Draw a Bird Day website:
In 1943, Dorie Cooper was a 7 year old living in England. Her mother took her to a hospital in to visit her uncle who was wounded in the war. While they were there, Dorie’s uncle was very distraught, having lost his right leg to a land mine. In an attempt to cheer him up, she asked him “Draw a bird for me, please” Even though he was unwell, he decided to do as Dorie asked. He looked out his window and drew a picture of a robin.
After seeing her uncle’s bird picture, Dorie laughed out loud and proclaimed that he was not a very good artist, but that she would hang the picture in her room nonetheless. Her uncle’s spirits were lifted by his niece’s complete honesty and acceptance. Several other wounded soldiers also had their day brightened by the event and every time Dorie came to visit thereafter, they held drawing contests to see who could produce the best bird pictures. Within several months, the entire ward’s walls were decorated by bird drawings.
3 years later, Dorie was killed after being struck by a car. At her funeral, her coffin was filled with bird images that had been made by soldiers, nurses and doctors from the ward where her uncle had been. Ever since then, those men and women remembered the little girl that brought hope to the ward by drawing birds on her birthday, April 8th.
Draw a Bird Day was never declared an official holiday, but it grew through those soldiers and medical personnel and their families. Today, it is celebrated world wide as a way to express joy in the very simplest of things in life and as a way to help soldiers everywhere forget war and suffering even if only for a short time.
After you draw your bird, continue expressing joy through dance. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with The Time.
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When his brothers/ fellow Jackson 5 members signed with Epic Records in 1975, Jermaine Jackson stayed with the quintet’s label, Motown. After all, he was married to the label head’s daughter. While The Jacksons, as the group was now known (Motown owns the name Jackson 5), racked up hits, Jermaine’s solo recording career floundered.
In 1980, his luck changed. After seven years without a top 40 solo hit, Jermaine hit the top ten with “Let’s Get Serious,” thanks in large part to fellow Motown artist Stevie Wonder, who during the 1970s scored eighteen top 40 hits on the pop chart. Wonder produced, arranged, co-wrote, sang backup, and played keyboards and drums on the track.
Besides reaching #9 on the pop chart, “Let’s Get Serious” went to #1 on the Soul chart, where it remained for six weeks. It became Billboard’s #1 soul song of 1980. At #2 was his brother Michael’s “Rock With You.”
“Let’s Get Serious” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Dance chart. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party on what is Jermaine Jackson’s 61st birthday.
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