…hell yeah we were there and there in a BIG WAY!
At one point during the proceedings, we completely dominated the awards show with SEVEN SOUL-PATROL MEMBERS ON THE STAGE AT ONE TIME. (as you can see the picture above :)). From left to right Marshall Thompson, Eugene Record, Robert Lester, Mickey McGill, Chuck Barksdale, Vern Allison and Johnnie Carter. They are better known to you all as the CHI-LITES and the MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS!
The purpose of the R&B Foundation Awards is to honor the great Rhythm and Blues artists of the past.
For me personally being there was sort of like visiting a walking/talking/living/breathing MUSEUM OF BLACK HISTORY!
Honorees included Johnnie Johnson, Clyde Otis, Sylvia Robinson, Huey "Piano" Smith, AND Betty Wright
groups included: the Chi-Lites and the Impressions
Stevie Wonder received the lifetime achievement honoree
legacy tribute set for the late Marvin Gaye
Ahmet Ertegun received the founders award
Smokey Robinson served as master of ceremonies for the third consecutive year
THOSE WHO HAVE "JUICE"...
· Kathy Sledge (who is either #1 or #2 on my DROOLERS LIST NOW)
· Brenda Russell (who is either #1 or #2 on my DROOLERS LIST NOW)
· Bill Pickney (of the Original Drifters)
· Huey "Piano" Smith
· Herbie Hancock
· Freddie Scott
· Maxine Brown
· Mary Wilson
· Don Covay (& family)
· Marvin Gaye III
· John B. Sebasian
· Paul Shaffer
· Fred Wesley
· Lloyd Price
· Suzanne DePasse
· Berry Gordy
· Gerald Levert
· Betty Wright
· Minister Louis Farakhan
· Sylvia Robinson
· Terry Murray (Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame CEO)
· The MIGHTY, MIGHTY DELLS
· The CHI-LITES
· Bill Lynch & Son (former campaign mgr of Mayor David Dinkins)
...and a WHOLE BUNCH of other really nice people that I met that I can't
remember at the moment :)
....AND THOSE WHO DON'T
· Brian McKnight
· BeBe Winans
· Erykah Badu
· Aretha Franklin
· The people in charge of Press Credentials :(
· The people who marketed the event (the upper balcony was EMPTY)
· The NYC "negro radio stations"
· The NYC "negro power elite"
Mr. Steveland Morris makes his way through the crowd, while Pioneer Award winner, Betty Wright is at the podium
Before Stevie Wonder was brought up to the stage to recive his lifetime achievement award, he was introduced by Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick and Herbie Hancock!
"Who else would we possibly accept another BIRTHDAY SONG from...."
Then Stevie is brought out on stage and immedietly starts JAMMING!!!!!!!
- TILL YOU COME BACK TO ME: Stevie starts off playing the piano very softly and starts singing the song. I almost expected Aretha Franklin to join him onstage since I know that she is also there, but she doesn't….Stevie is merely setting the stage at this point.
- HEY LOVE: People on Soul Patrol know that this is my favorite Stevie Wonder song. While it's hardly his most famous, or his biggest hit, it's a perfect song to play here at this event, since it harkens back to the days of 1950's DOO WOP! At this point I am ecstatic, singing along with Stevie (since I have the words memorized…..lol)
- I WAS MADE TO LOVE HER: Stevie starts out this song by blowing a few notes into his harmonica and the crowd immediately goes wild! As he starts singing the song the crowd is singing with him and everyone is grooving
- SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED: Some people on the internet have told me in the past, that Stevie Wonder is "devoid of funk". These people are IDIOTS (and yes I will use that word to describe them). Let me tell you something….Stevie had the crowd in his hands at this point, playing the song for 10 straight minutes, in what turned out to be the beginning of FUNK CHURCH, led by REVEREND STEVELAND MORRIS…
At this point the music came to an abrupt halt as Stevie paused to make a speech…
"...Hey Bonnie Raitt, I don't really need this award right now, the work that is being done by this foundation is really important......I think that we should make a record with the proceeds donated to the foundation and then I'll come back here next year after that CD has sold a couple of million copies and THEN collect my award...."
I want to be of use to this foundation.
I'll sing any song yall want me to!
Here is one of my favorite songs by Clyde McPhatter…
- A LOVERS QUESTION: This is a song that was originally done (as Stevie said) by Clyde McPhatter, before I was born. At several points during the song, Stevie stopped singing completely and let the audience do the singing for him. And here at this walking/talking/living/breathing Museum of African American History, (they ALL KNEW THE WORDS BY HEART!!!!!!!)
- OOO BABY BABY: A cover of the Smokey Robinson Classic! It only lasted for about 20 seconds but Stevie HIT IT and so did his back up singers (Sister Sledge and Brenda Russell, whom I immediately dubbed "WONDERLOVE 2000")
- I WISH: (COME ON WIT IT) Stevie chose this moment in time to drop a RAW FUNK BOMB on everyone! The song started simply with Stevie with that now famous STANK piano opening, where he was joined by Paul Shaffer on VICIOUS GOSPEL DRENCHED Hammond B3 and someone who sounded like there were BEATING A DAMN STICK AGAINST THE PIANO (I wish those days could come back once more...)
- SUPERSTITION: From I WISH, Stevie then pumped right into Superstition and the crowd went WILD
...he had that joint full of OLD PEOPLE absolutely SWAYIN on the slow jams and ROCKIN on the fast one's !!!!!!!!!!
badd, badd, badd, badd
......Stevie GAVE UP THE FUNK!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He is truly....the GREATEST artist of his generation
Classic Soul Icon's and Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame members: Berry Gordy and Harvey Fuqua
Marvin Gaye received the LEGACY AWARD posthumously.
The award was jointly presented by Berry Gordy and Soul Patrol's own Harvey Fuqua!
I thought this was quite appropriate. Both men were related to Marvin Gaye (by marriage) and in addition it was Harvey Fuqua who also discovered Marvin Gaye..
The speeches both men gave were quite moving and personal, with Berry Gordy also using the occasion to announce that he would be donating $750,000 to the foundation. The award was graciously accepted my Marvin's children, Marvin P. Gaye III and Nona Gaye. They both gave moving speeches as well.
The speeches were followed by a medley of Marvin's hits performed by Brenda Russell, Ashford and Simpson (who wrote many of the Marvin and Tammi songs), Gerald Levert (who all did a good job).
However in my opinion, the music of Marvin Gaye just doesn't cover well.
I suppose that in and of itself is a testament to the greatness of his music?
Soul-Patrol.com's Grand Technical Wizard (Mike Davis) along with the VERY lovely and talented Sister Sledge :-)
I already told yall about the MIND BLOWING performance turned in by Mr. Steveland Morris at the show, but there were a few other memorable moments as well.
* SISTER SLEDGE - These FOXY LADIES are just the way you would picture them and more. They are just as nice and classy, close up as they are from a distance. Great sense of humor and possessing that rarest of qualities... they are actually nice people!! (as you can see from the photo above)
* HERBIE HANCOCK - a true gentleman. I talked with him for a few moments and discussed the time that I had seen him along with Miles Davis at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh, back in 1974
* HUEY "PIANO" SMITH - He performed the LEGENDARY song "Rockin Pneumonia" as a part of his induction!
* BRENDA RUSSELL - Yall already know that she is a STONE FOX. What you don't know is that she's got a wonderful sense of humor and a sparkling personality
* BETTY WRIGHT - She had everybody on their feet when she did "Tonight's Is The Night" but when she went into "Clean Up Woman", EVERYBODY was shakin their "groove thang". Betty also added a little spice into what was a great song/performance by doing a little "rap" in the middle, instructing any would be "samplers" NOT to use her material anymore in the future
* GERALD LEVERT - Nice job on "Heard it Thru The Grapevine"
* SYLVIA ROBINSON - For some reason she didn't sing (and that was a disappointment to me). However I thought that Bonnie Raitt did a nice job with "Pillow Talk" and the combination of Chuck Jackson/Bonnie Raitt did a nice job on "Love Is Strange". I wonder if she will also wind up being inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame?
* ERYKAH BADU - Until last night, I really liked Erykah Badu.
In fact I dig her music so much that not only did I make a web page up about her. at:
But I also have pretty much ignored the negative stories that I have heard about her behavior, "fake afrocentricity" and attitude over the past few years both from people who have worked with her and from people that she grew up with in Dallas that are friends and relatives of mine.
However last night I got to observe her "up close and personal" at the R&B Foundation Awards. Not only was I disgusted by her overall attitude and demeanor, but so was everyone else there who spoke about her.
Let's start from the top (literally) and go from the silly to the serious
- Erykah Badu is much shorter that I had thought she was, she is maybe 5' 3" tall. That headdress she wears is MUCH larger than I had thought from seeing her on TV.
In fact it's almost as long as she is tall.
She looked like an idiot.
- Not only wouldn't she talk with me, she wouldn't talk with ANY of the media in the press room. That's cool, she isn't any under any sort of obligation to speak with the press. However it was the way in which she said no that was offensive, condescending and demonstrated a complete lack of class, that when observed normally causes one to think in their mind: "lack of home training". I wondered why she had even bothered to go into the press room?
- I have heard Erykah Badu state during interviews that she loves Classic Soul music/artists, considers them to be inspirational, etc. After seeing the way that she SNUBBED a bunch of Classic Soul artists, I wonder if she actually believes in those statements, or if someone in the marketing department told her to say that. I observed artist after artist approach her, attempt to strike up a conversation and be turned away in the same manner that she had snubbed me and the others in the press room earlier.
- As I continued my mission to talk with as many artists as possible, most has something to say about Erykah's behavior and attitude. This is the comment I heard OVER AND OVER AGAIN from MANY famous Classic Soul stars as I circulated thru the room doing interviews...
"She thinks she's too big of a star to talk with us regular folk, well I think that damn towel is wrapped around her head too tight, let me go over there and KNOCK IT OFF OF HER HEAD and while I'm at it, KNOCK HER UPSIDE THE HEAD...."
In other words, the Classic Soul artists were trying to reach out to Erykah and make her a part of the "family" and her behavior left a bad taste in their mouths
- I won't even bother to go into the details of what my cousins in Dallas who went to High School told me about her or what people who have worked with her have told me because it's all hearsay. However I will say that based on what I observed first hand on Wednesday night that I have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM in saying that she is a phony and that she is merely "perpetrating an image"
"what goes around, comes around...."
* CHI-LITES - They performed "Oh Girl" and "Have You Seen Her" and the crowd was listening so intensely, that you could hear a pin drop!
* GENE CHANDLER - "as I walk thru this world, nothing can stop, the DUKE OF EARL…" Gene Chandler's face was one of the first ones that I saw as I entered the press area during the afternoon. Another gentleman, who has also been lurking around Soul Patrol for quite a while now. It was GREAT meeting him in person!
* IMPRESSIONS - "I'm So Proud", I had always liked the Main Ingredient's version better till I heard the Impressions sing it last night
* "WONDERLOVE 2000" - Sister Sledge and Brenda Russell (SERIOUS DROOLERS FELLAS) as Stevie Wonder's "back up singers"!!!!!!!!!
* FREDDIE SCOTT - A true R&B Old School veteran, remember his BIG HIT from the 1960's "Hey Girl"? Well he was there (sitting at our table), looking good and tells us he's got a new CD coming out. One hell of a nice guy too!
* MINISTER LOUIS FARRAKHAN - The brotha looks fantastic!
He looks like he is about 40 years old, lost about 30-40 lbs and you know those "craters" in his face? (they were gone)
I told him this and said...
"last year there were all these awful rumors about your health"
"Those rumors were ALL true, I had cancer and was near death, but Allah didn't want me to go just quite yet, so he healed me and has truly turned back the hands of time...."
I told him that our site was 100% Black owned, by Mike and myself (who was standing right there) both on the technical and content side, and that we were the largest and most popular site of it's kind on the entire internet, dealing with Classic Soul, Funk, Blues, Jazz and associated Commentary.
He said that he was PROUD of what we were trying to do given the onslaught of negative and greedy influences that were currently so pervasive within so called Black internet space and he urged us to NEVER sell out to ANYONE and to keep it within the family.
"thank you, your words of encouragement mean a lot to my brother and I. Back in the mid 1980's we came to Madison Square Garden and saw you speak. It was the very first of your events that had been directed solely towards black men. There were TONS of police there, because the NY media had predicted violence and feminist groups were opposed to your exclusion of females from the event. Of course there was NO violence and your message that night was a positive one about Black men accepting greater responsibility for the world around them..."
"Of course I remember that event, sounds like you and your brother have taken my words that night to heart. I'll be checking out your website...."
.....& then he hugged me :)
He wasn't there as a presenter or a participant in the activities.
He was only there because he was a fan of the music!
As the evening progressed, I would glance over at his table and each time I did, I saw the BIGGEST celebrities in Black music going over to meet and greet Minister Louis Farrakhan.
I won't mention their names, but take my word for it, EVERYBODY in the joint last night went over to talk with him.
As I observed this I thought back to the time when Jim Brown had been a guest on the Arsinio Hall show. Jim for some reason started to talk about the Nation of Islam and said...
"The general public would be surprised if they knew just how many Black celebrities in Hollywood were members of the nation of Islam, but were hiding it, because they were afraid for their carriers...I know that we are getting ready to go to a commercial, but when we come back, I'll name some folks for yall, just so that yall don't think that EVERYONE in Hollywood is an Uncle Tom..."
They went to commercial, came back and Jim Brown was GONE (with NO EXPLANATION)
Last night at the R&B Foundation awards, I could see some of the evidence of what Jim Brown may have been talking about....
* CLASSIC SOUL ON THE INTERNET - A number of artists there told me that they now have web sites under various phases of construction. Sister Sledge, Brenda Russell, Gene Chandler, the Dells, Freddie Scott and others
Perhaps yall will go and check out these artists on the web, since yall DON'T want to go and see them in person when they are performing in YOUR city?
* EVENT ATTENDANCE - As a native New Yorker, I was EMBARASSED at the overall low attendance of this event. It was also something of an EMBARRASSMENT to see the LACK OF PARTICIPATION of New York City's "NEGRO RADIO STATIONS" and New York City's "NEGRO ELITE" in either the promotion or attendance of the R&B Foundation's Pioneer Awards.
Could it be that the high falutin NEGRO POWER STRUCTURE of NYC thinks that it is too good to participate?
There are MANY questions that could be asked with respect to this and I'm certain we will be discussing them and more on the Soul-Patrol Mailing List!