Syl Johnson (b. July 1, 1936) is an American blues and soul singer and music producer. Born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Johnson sang and played with blues artists Magic Sam, Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Wells and Howlin' Wolf in the 1950s, before recording with Jimmy Reed for Vee-Jay in 1959. He made his solo debut that same year with Federal, a subsidiary of King Records of Cincinnati, backed by Freddie King on guitar.
Earth, Wind & Fire is an American funk band, formed in Chicago, Illinois in 1969. Led by Maurice White, they are best known for their hits of the 1970s, among them "After the Love Has Gone", "September," "Reasons," "Fantasy" and "Shining Star." Earth, Wind & Fire became the first black performers to headline throughout the world without an opening act, to receive Madison Square Garden's Gold Ticket Award for selling more than 100,000 tickets and to receive the Columbia Records Crystal Globe Award for selling more than five million albums in foreign markets.
Parliament was originally The Parliaments, a doo-wop group based out of George Clinton's Plainfield, New Jersey barber shop. The name was soon abandoned due to legal issues with Revilot and Atlantic Records, and most of the same people recorded under the name Funkadelic, which consisted of The Parliaments' backing musicians. Billy "Bass" Nelson is credited with creating the name Funkadelic. He also switched from 6-string guitar to bass, creating room for his childhood friend Eddie Hazel to join the group.
Ann Sexton was born 5th February 1950 in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.A. Songwriter David Lee spotted Ann in 1971, although not a well known artist, Ann recorded a series of great soul records for the legendary Nashville soul DJ and label-owner John R (John Richbourg). Her best known songs, "You've Been Gone Too Long" and "You're Losing Me", were, and still are, great favourites on the Northern Soul scene.
The Velvelettes were a 60's femal vocal group founded in 1961 by sisters Carolyn and Millie Gill with cousins Bertha Barbee-McNeal and Norma Barbee (both from Flint, Michigan) on the Western Michigan University campus, where they were students. The group signed to Motown Records, but weren't given top priority, as other female vocal groups were attracting audiences and recording hits. While the group awaited their chance at stardom, they recorded backing vocals for more established Motown girl groups, including The Marvelettes, Martha & The Vandellas, and The Supremes.
An original member of New York's new-school pioneers the Ultramagnetic MC's, "Kool" Keith Thornton is best known as a solo rapper. His signature style is stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow and complex vocals, two skills that earn him a perennial nod from the underground hip-hop community. The average Kool Keith album is peppered with bizarre, disjointed, even delusional or disassociated themes, concepts, and references. Nearly all of his albums incorporate a satirical dislike for more commercialized strains of hip-hop, as well as major record labels.
Shuggie Otis, born 1953, is the son of Johnny Otis, a rhythm and blues musician. He started performing in his youth and released his first record in 1970. He not only writes songs, but also plays guitar, piano, organ, and bass. He has recorded with Frank Zappa, Al Kooper, Etta James, and Eddie Vinson, and more recently Mos Def. The Brothers Johnson's version of his composition "Strawberry Letter 23" reached #1 in the Billboard rhythm and blues chart and #5 in the Billboard pop chart in 1977. Shuggie's albums include: "Here Comes Shuggie Otis", "Freedom Flight" and "Inspiration Information".
The Bar-Kays are a popular soul, R&B, and funk group which began performing in 1966 and continue to perform today, although with only one original member. They began in Memphis, Tennessee as a favorite recording studio session musician group, backing major artists at Stax Records. They were chosen in 1967 by Otis Redding to play as his backing band.
On 10 December 1967, Redding, his manager, and band members Jimmy King (b. 1949; guitar), Ronnie Caldwell (b. 1948; organ), Phalon Jones (b. 1949; saxophone), and Carl Cunningham (b.