Soul City is playing Classic Soul R&B from the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, to present day..

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Ohio Players



Yoshi's Oakland
 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 238-9200


Thu, Jul 7 Fri, Jul 8    8:00 pm /

www.yoshis.com/

With their slinky, horn-powered grooves, impeccable musicianship, and eye-popping album covers, the Ohio Players were among the top funk bands of the mid-'70s. Emerging from the musical hotbed of Dayton in 1959, the group was originally dubbed the Ohio Untouchables, and initially comprised singer/guitarist Robert Ward, bassist Marshall "Rock" Jones, saxophonist/guitarist Clarence "Satch" Satchell, drummer Cornelius Johnson, and trumpeter/trombonist Ralph "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks. In late 1961, a relative of Ward's founded the Detroit-based Lupine Records, and the group traveled north to the Motor City to back the Falcons on their hit "I Found a Love"; the Ohio Untouchables soon made their headlining debut with "Love Is Amazing," but when Ward subsequently exited for a solo career, the group essentially disbanded.

At that point, the nucleus of Middlebrooks, Jones, and newly added guitarist Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner returned to Dayton; there they recruited saxophonist Andrew Noland and drummer Gary Webster, the latter a somewhat elusive figure whose true involvement in the group's convoluted history has never been definitively answered — some sources credit him as a founding Untouchable, others even as the band's early leader. In any case, by 1967, with the subsequent addition of singers Bobby Lee Fears and Dutch Robinson, the newly rechristened Ohio Players were signed as the house band for the New York-based Compass Records, backing singer Helena Ferguson on her lone hit, "Where Is the Party," before issuing their solo debut, "Trespassin'," which hit the R&B charts in early 1968. 

Although the Players' trademark bottom-heavy, horn-driven sound was already blossoming, their follow-up, "It's a Cryin' Shame," flopped, and as Compass teetered on the brink of bankruptcy they exited the label. (Their early Compass sides were later packaged as First Impressions.) The Players then landed on Capitol, where 1969's "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" was a minor hit; an LP, Observations in Time, soon followed, with covers of "Summertime" and "Over the Rainbow" offering a strong hint of the stylistic detours to follow. In 1970 the group disbanded, however; Fears and Robinson both mounted solo careers, while the remaining members again decamped to Dayton, eventually re-forming with keyboardist Walter "Junie" Morrison, trumpeter Bruce Napier, and trombonist Marvin Pierce.

Influenced by the groundbreaking funk of Sly & the Family Stone — and with the nasal, cartoon-voiced Bonner assuming vocal duties — the new Ohio Players lineup made their debut with the single "Pain," issued on the small local label Rubber Town Sounds; it was soon picked up for distribution by the Detroit-based Westbound label, reaching the R&B Top 40 in late 1971. An LP, also titled Pain, appeared that same year, and was followed in 1972 by Pleasure, which launched the absurdist smash "Funky Worm." Ecstacy appeared in 1973, and after 1974's Climax, the Players signed to Mercury; the label change also heralded yet more lineup changes, with keyboardist Billy Beck replacing Morrison (who later signed on with Parliament) and drummer Jimmy "Diamond" Williams taking over for Webster. 

At Mercury, the Ohio Players enjoyed their greatest success; not only did their sound coalesce, but they became notorious for their sexually provocative LP covers, a tradition begun during their Westbound tenure. Their 1974 Mercury debut, Skin Tight, was their first unequivocal classic, launching the hit title track as well as "Jive Turkey." Its follow-up, Fire, remains the Players' masterpiece, topping the pop charts on the strength of its bone-rattling title cut, itself a number one hit; "I Want to Be Free," one of the band's few attempts at social commentary, was also highly successful. 1975's Honey — which featured perhaps the Players' most controversial and erotic cover to date — was another monster, generating the chart-topping masterpiece "Love Rollercoaster" in addition to the hits "Sweet Sticky Thing" and "Fopp."

The insistent "Who'd She Coo?" from 1976's Contradiction, was the Players' last number one R&B hit; "O-H-I-O," from 1977's Angel, was their last major hit on any chart, and as the 1970s drew to a close, the band's fortunes continued to decline. 1979's Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee was their final Mercury effort, and upon signing to Arista, the Players returned with Everybody Up, followed by a pair of dismal releases on Boardwalk, 1981's Tenderness and 1982's Ouch! After 1984's Graduation, four years passed prior to the release of their next effort, Back; no new material was forthcoming, although various lineups continued performing live well into the following decade. Founding member "Satch" Satchell died in late 1995, while "Pee Wee" Middlebrooks passed on in late 1996.

AfroSolo Arts Festival 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

THELMA HOUSTON Coming To Yoshi's Oakland

TUE 4.26

Motown, Memories & Me!

THELMA HOUSTON

DOORS: 7:30 PM / SHOW: 8:00 PM

Featuring over 20 classic Motown songs by GRAMMY© winning Motown legend Thelma Houston
www.yoshis.com/


Yoshi's
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 238-9200 | ..... Tickets. $19.00 

A Mississippi native, Thelma started out in the 60's performing in gospel music with the Art Reynolds Singers. She then signed to Capitol Records (home of the Beatles, Nat King Cole and Nancy Wilson) in 1967 and had her first hit song called "Baby Mine."Soon Thelma was courted by several record labels and signed with ABC/Dunhill where she recorded and released her first solo album called "Sunshower" which was written, arranged and produced by the legendary Jimmy Webb. After this critically acclaimed album was released, Thelma decided to accept an offer from one of the biggest record companies around, Motown Records.Thelma claimed the top of the Pop, R&B and Dance charts with her high-powered rendition of "Don't Leave Me This Way." That Gold Record classic gave Thelma the distinction of being the first solo female artist at Motown to win the Grammy Award for "Best R&B Female Vocal Performance."With appearances from Tokyo to Las Vegas to London and beyond, Thelma continues to bring audiences to their feet with her dynamic, energetic show. This Diva logs over 200 performances annually and the singer/songwriter is enjoying every moment of her success. "I still feel a tremendous excitement about performing," states the upbeat songstress. "I have so many more things I want to do and I have NO plans to retire anytime soon."
WEB SITEWebsite
Thelma's makes her main home in Los Angeles, CA.

You can hear Thelma Houston on Streetwise Radio.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Change







Do you ever hear a song that takes you back and you know exactly where you were? As I was listening to Change’s song "The Glow of Love" it reminded me of good times, simpler times when I was single and mingling.


Change was an Italian-American group that was formed in Bologna, Italy in 1979 by Jacques Fred Petrus businessman and executive producer and Mauro Malavasi. Many considered Change to be a clone of Chic. Granted, there were some similarities both featured dynamic bass lines in their music. They were fronted by mostly studio singers but there was one unknown singer at the time by the name of Luther Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005). One of my all-time favorite singers. Oh, could that man sing? Change had their time in the spotlight during the late 70's and early 80's. However, Change did score on the charts with some significant dance tunes. "A Lover's Holiday," the group's debut single, was a very danceable song that fit in with the current pop hits. "Searching" and "The Glow of Love" benefit enormously from the vocals of Luther Vandross. Some more of my favorite tunes are, "Paradise", "Change of Heart" and "Turn On Your Radio". 

People don’t remember Change until they hear their songs. Streetwise Radio is playing their songs, so checkout this blast from the past.
LM


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ahmed Sirour The B’Earthday Boy Collection



                               

I love to hear artists who have their own take on music. The originality of how they put it all together is mind blowing. I can’t believe Ahmed Sirour, this guy is awesome. This composer, arranger, producer, sound engineer from Brooklyn, New York is a self-taught musician and a gift to the music universe. I say this because his remixes and mash ups of songs like, "Always Get Away" - Lenora Jaye, "Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson, "Brazilian Skies" - Bill Summers, "Eleanor Rigby" - The Beatles, "Family Affair" - Sly & The Family, "Love Wicki Like This" - The Fatback Band &Faith Evans and "The Funky Keyboardist" - Clyde Stubblefield/James Brown is pure genius. Ahmed can put out a series of singles and albums. Some are Jazzy, Funky instrumentals, poetry and some have singers on there that can truly sing no auto-tunes anywhere. Singers like Yvette Rovira, Yahzarah, Lenora Jaye and Michelle Thompson. Ahmed Sirour in my opinion is one amazing musician that no doubt will be going on my play list. Check out Ahmed Sirour’s, The B’Earthday Boy Collection on Streetwise Radio you will be amazed at this talented musician and become a fan.
LM


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

EU (Experience Unlimited)





                                                    

Back in the late 80s if you were having a house party and you wanted to get the party started all the
DJ had to do was play “Da Butt” by EU. This song doesn't get the credit it deserves. We were doing this dance all most thirty years ago. Da Butt has influenced the dance they call twerking. It reminded me of Spike Lee’s movie School Daze a musical comedy drama. Which was based on his involvements at Atlanta's Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. It made me go back and watch it. I’m glad I did, it reminded me of how he has stayed true to himself. He’s always socially conscious and he makes movies about that, like his latest movie “Chi-Raq”. Well enough of that, that’s another story.
Back to EU they were a Go Go band out of Washington D.C. in the 80s and 90s. Go-Go is a popular music subgenre associated with funk that originated in Washington, D.C. They had several chart making songs of course “Da Butt” was their biggest hit. They also had “Taste Of Your Love” and “Buck Wild”. Fun Fact: E.U. recorded “Knock 'em Out, Sugar Ray” without any keyboards. Just vocals, drums, percussion, bass, horns and lead guitar. They were a funky band here are two more funky songs with that Go-Go beat, “Future Funk” and "Livin Large". EU experienced a return in the mid to late 1990s. They partnered with the jazz, gospel and pop singer Maiesha Rashad. They performed under her, Maiesha and The Hip Huggers featuring E.U. They have headlined events and concert venues such as B.B. King's Blues Club and Grill, DAR Constitution Hall, Black Family Reunion and D.C.'s Stone Soul Picnic. Another fun fact: In 2012, "Da Butt" was licensed for an Xbox 360 game Dance Central 3. EU was a funk band that truly brought the funk. For all you who haven’t heard of Experience Unlimited or EU check them out on Streetwise Radio. Enjoy!
LM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experience_Unlimited
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ypcs4c7ihSo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=990Laeh_ZIc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQw5nb7IPZg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qGKzXRLff8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw6xcj4Jodw

Monday, February 8, 2016

Remembering Maurice White the Founder of Earth Wind & Fire



                                                   December 19, 1941 – February 4, 2016


My heart breaks! I’m so blessed to have grown up in the 70's. I just remember afros, beads, and good times! Simple times, the best times. Ever since Earth Wind & Fire began back in the 70s, I have loved their music. I had the honor of seeing Earth Wind & Fire in the 70s and the 80s. Each time I saw them they were fantastic! How many bands can claim, that not one of their songs is about anything negative? Always about love, happiness, celebration and being the best you can be. I heard someone say, Maurice wasn’t really a singer. I wanted to slap the mess out of them. I challenge them, go on YouTube and look for: Unreleased song by Maurice White/ EWF. The man not only could sing but had a beautiful voice. He and Philip Bailey were the lead singer of the group. He was also an amazing songwriter and the main songwriter. There will never be another like Maurice White. I had a lot of favorite songs back in the day but two of the most beautiful songs ever recorded in my opinion was “Reasons” and “Devotion”. Every time I here, “After the love has gone”, “Would You Mind”, “Can't Hide Love”, "That's The Way of The World", “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Let's Groove”, “Fantasy”, "That's The Way of The World" and “Sing a Song” . I will remember Maurice White with a smile on my face. The World has lost an Icon a legend to Parkinson's disease, he passed away in his sleep. Thank You Lord for giving him to us for 74 years. Maurice White the founder of EWF, has inspired so many people around the world. With his amazing music and great message. He was indeed a Shining Star and we will all Keep our Heads to the Sky! Thank You for what you left us in your music that will live forever. R.I.P. you will be missed.
LM
https://www.yahoo.com/celebrity/news/earth-wind-fires-maurice-white-003200142.html?ref=gs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_White
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwVn4vHDIqM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXrgnZvRg-c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr0ekZlcM8E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vIIZydXDqg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs069dndIYk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrle0x_DHBM

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chanté Moore





Do you ever wonder what happen to your favorite singers that could deliver a love song that truly spoke to you? I was watching one of my favorite TV shows, Unsung, on October 18, 2015 they were featuring Chanté Moore. Chanté happens to be one of those amazing singer/songwriters who is so underrated. If you have the rare ability to listen with your ears and your heart instead of listening to what the music industry calls "good," then I'm telling you that Chanté Moore is definitely an artist that you will want to listen to. Her voice can be compared to any beautiful natural setting, like the rising of the sun.
This 48 year old singer/songwriter, actress and author grew up in the Bay View Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. Her singing career took off in 1992 with her “Precious” album with her two hits “Loves Taken Over” and “It's Alright”. It span more than 20 years, throughout these years she was married three times once to singer Kenny Lattimore. She’s on the reality show R&B Divas L.A. and wrote a book called “Will I Marry Me”. In 2014 she put out as single called “I Know, Right”. She throws a curve ball with this banger! From the beginning of the song, you start bobbing your head and by the chorus you’re dancing. This song is different from her ballads. Chanté Moore is an unsung talent.
LM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chant%C3%A9_Moore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDsZXjNBA3c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pd1rYb-m7Tg



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jody Watley and Shalamar--Reloaded






I want to thank God for creating me in 1960, so I can enjoy real talent. By that, I mean music artists that could sing and write lyrics with meaning, unlike the some of the artists nowadays who auto tune their voices to make it sound audible. Whenever I hear "Second Time Around,” "For the Lover in You" and "A Night to Remember,” it takes me back to 1979, 1980 and 1982--the years of my young adult life. I remember Jody Watley and Howard Hewett singing these songs, OMG!  their voices. Good ole voices from a good ole times. Music that still lives and plays on and in the hearts of many.


  Well enough of all that, this blog is about Jody Watley. Did you know she used to dance on “Soul Train” in the 70s when she was 14 years old? She also sang in the group Shalamar from 1977 to 1983. When Shalamar broke up, I was sad because the musical chemistry was so good. During Watley’s solo career she put out nine albums from 1987 to 2006. Now at the age of 56,  she’s still doing what she loves. In May of 2014 she registered the Shalamar trademark. This was a big controversy with Howard Hewett, you can read all about it in this link http://jodywatley.net/. Watley is now singing and booking shows with Shalamar reloaded with Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy. They have a single out called “Slow Dance,” which I have listened to many times and still love it. I have always been a fan of Shalamar but for me it was Watley who made the group and of course the one who had an incredibly successful solo career (including Grammys). Watley not only looks amazing, she still has it. I look forward to the new album. Jody Watley and Shalamar reloaded will be playing Yoshi’s in Oakland California on December 30, 2015 thru January 1, 2016 and SAP Center in San Jose on February 12, 2016.



Here are some other places you can also catch Jody Watley and Shalamar reloaded:
Nov. 6-8 Blues Alley Washington DC,
Nov. 14 – special guests of Jody Watley 94.7 The WAVE Presents Freestyle Explosion Anaheim Honda Center
Nov.21 – CenturyLink Center Bossier, LA
Jan. 18-19 Billboard Live Tokyo
Jan. 21,   Billboard Live Osaka, Jan. 29 – The Roxy Theatre Los Angeles Feb. 13 Las Vegas Orleans Arena special guests of Jody Watley Freestyle Classic
LM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guB_jQkCzCo&list=RDxz4YQZ01Q_A&index=2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz4YQZ01Q_A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGZsY0yUy8Q
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jody_Watley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKbjYNDxCrg

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tyrese, Black Rose Album





I was listening on the Steve Harvey morning radio show about a month and half ago, on my way to an appointment. I caught the tail end of his interview with Tyrese. Tyrese was talking about his latest and last album Black Rose and that it was personal. Black Rose demonstrates Tyrese's growth as an artist and his maturity as a man. This album has a classic R&B feel to it. The kind of music that you just want to kick back and mellow out with a glass of wine. The reason why I love R&B music, it tells a story of what people are going through in their life. Tyrese has captured it, in this album.
It is definitely music for grown folks. It gives you a glimpse into his life and past loves. It’s real as real can get. This artist from the streets of South Central Los Angeles that sung on a Coca Cola commercial in the late 1990’s, is one class act. I put two links with Tyrese talking about his final album, his Ex and much more. Check it out. My favorite song is “Shame”, but the other songs on this album are just as good. Tyrese is one amazing talent check out his album and songs on Streetwise Radio.

LM


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival, August 14-15, 2015, Jackson, MS


Jackson Rhythm & Blues Festival, August 14-15, 2015, Jackson, MS




111 East Capitol Street, Suite 102 Jackson, Mississippi 39201 • 800-354-7695 • 601-960-1891
www.visitjackson.com
2015 Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival: Is it true to its “ROOTS”?
JACKSON, MS- “City with Soul”

The 2015 Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival roster is set for its third year! The festival is August 14th & 15th at the MS Ag Museum. Keeping with the grounds and its natural rustic setting, is the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival being true to its “Roots”? Yes! “Nappy Roots” that is, has been added to the roster!
Festival organizers started the festival to celebrate Jackson’s rich contribution to the foundation of
rhythm and blues, but are not married to just those genres. The festival is postured to explore and
introduce new genres to expand its offering. This year is no different; they have added a
Gospel/R&B/Urban Contemporary Artist, Mali Music, who made his debut on the BET Music Awards. R&B Divas star Leela James; Percussionist, Adib Sabir; A cappella group, Street Corner Symphony;
and Southern Soul/R&B Artist, T-Baby round off the line-up. Altogether now….. It’s Boomin!
Nappy Roots is a Southern rap quartet that entered the music scene in 1998 and the guys have remained real, humble, and talented with inherent, undeniable southern swagger. After the international success of
their album Watermelon, Chicken, & Grits, selling over 3 million albums, the members of Nappy Roots were flying high while still acutely aware of how far it could be to the bottom should they fall.
After his seismic performance at the BET Music Awards’ “Music Matters” stage, Mali Music found
himself meeting with major record label executives, and finally settled in at RCA Records-the home of Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Miguel. After another earthshaking BET Music Awards performance and a performance at the Essence Festival, the mainstream wholeheartedly embraced Mali’s undeniable and uplifting blend of soulful R&B, invigorating hip-hop, and inspiring lyricism.
What sets Leela James apart is her fearless approach to making music. She travels the gamut of
emotions from self-doubt to self-confidence, and reminds her audience of what it is to be human – to
love, to regret and to dream. Constant requests have been pouring in for James to reemerge at the
Festival, which may be attributed to her popularity on reality show, R&B Divas. Where else could she perform, but in the “Diva’s Den”?
Just in case you’ve been hibernating for the winter, the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival is a premier two-day music festival offering a stellar music mix and line up guaranteeing a good Jackson, Mississippi time with over 30 Artists on 5 stages, including 4 indoor, air-conditioned venues, transformed into Juke Joints- It’s Boomin!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also check out our website at
www.jacksonrhythmandbluesfestival.com for updates on the line-up and other Festival information.
###
CONTACT: Yolanda Clay-Moore, Manager, Public Relations
(601) 960-1891, ext 310 or ymoore@visitjackson.com

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

B.B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)




Another Blues legend as gone home to glory. Yes, B.B. King is gone but his music will live on. I was bless to have seen B.B. King live two times in my life. The first time was in the late 1990’s at the Monterey Blues Festival in Monterey California. The second time was in the mid 2000’s, at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mt. View California. When I heard of his passing, I became teary eyed. Just thinking about the times I had seen him live and what an amazing man he was. He sure could tell a story through his guitar strings. Whenever I hear his songs, "The Thrill Is Gone", “Lucille”, “Three O Clock Blues”, "Rock Me Baby" and “Sweet Sixteen” I will remember him with a smile on my face. B.B. King carried an entire style of music on his back for half a century or more, he was a national gem. R.I.P. B.B. King you will be missed but never forgotten. Tune into Streetwise Radio and listen to songs from the Best Blues Man I ever seen. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on Pandora, iTunes, MyGen365, Live365 and Athena365.

LM



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Melvin Davis




Hey! All you lover’s  of soul music, a flash from the past is back and doing his thing. I’m talking about Melvin Davis. He was the lead singer with the 70’s group “The 8th Day”. He’s a singer, songwriter, drummer, and bandleader from Detroit. Melvin was born in 1942 and was around in the Motown era. Melvin worked with artists such as Smokey Robinson, David Ruffin, Wayne Krammer and Dennis Coffey. Their hit song was “You’ve Got To Crawl Before You Walk.”

Now decades later he is still singing. He released an album call “Double or Nothing” on April 17, 2015. Melvin Davis at the age of 73 is still going strong. His song “Double or Nothing” still has that soul favor Melvin Davis is known for. Some the other songs I like on the album are “Cherish Each Moment”, “Something I Just Don’t Do”, “WCTP”, “Why We Can’t Communicate” and “Let Love In Your Life”. Check out Soul City on Streetwise Radio to listen to songs from Melvin Davis. You can also listen to Streetwise Radio on iTunes, Live365, MyGen365, Athena365 and Pandora.

LM 

 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

WILL DOWNING


PRESALE TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!

Sat-Mon, June 27-29 at Yoshi's Oakland


One of the leading purveyors of unapologetic, unabashed romantic music


Will Downing
Women love Will Downing. And men love the women who love Will Downing. In his two decade recording career, the Brooklyn native has carved for himself a solid career as one of the leading purveyors of unapologetic, unabashed romantic music. And while this has not translated to crossover success – or even to broad urban radio success – it has gained for Downing a solid musical legacy and a rabidly loyal following of, well…women.

Celebrating his new release Euphoria, Downing had his first national exposure as a popular backing vocalist in the 80s before signing with Island Records. He recorded two modestly successful albums and had a minor hit with a cover of "A Love Supreme" before releasing his breakout 1991 album A Dream Fulfilled. It was a marvelous disc that showed Downing not only possessed a fine baritone voice but that he was also was an excellent song stylist, deftly handling such diverse songs as War's "The World Is A Ghetto" and Paul Davis's "I Go Crazy" and providing a stunning, definitive version of Angela Bofill's "I Try." Both the "I Try" single and the album hit the Urban top 25, and critical acclaim for the disc abounded.

A Dream Fulfilled began a period where Downing found his musical identity and was the first of a string of successful albums that focused on smooth, romantic music, mostly ballads. Sometimes unfairly lumped with his friend Luther Vandross, Downing was actually creating his own brand of love music that was less urban and much jazzier. And though Downing's songs were also more sensual than Vandross's, he shared Luther's sensibilities, singing to women on a truly romantic level that clearly went beyond the physical.

In the 90s and early 00s, Downing recorded frequently on multiple record labels. He became a regular at the top of the contemporary jazz charts and released a number of solid albums (perhaps the best of which was his album of duets with saxophonist Gerald Albright, Pleasures of the Night) with only one miscue (All the Man You Need, his lone album on Motown and an ill-advised attempt at an "urban" sound).

In early 2007, Will contracted a rare muscular disease, Polymyositis, which sidelined him for most of the year. It was a devastating attack, forcing Downing into a wheelchair for most of the year, and causing him to lose nearly 100 pounds. Despite the setback, he was determined to complete his debut album for Peak Records, After Tonight, for which he had recorded four songs prior to his illness. During the Spring of 2007, Will worked from his home putting down vocals despite severe weakness and fatigue. He would say it was "the hardest thing I've ever done," occasionally moving from chair to bed to complete a vocal piece. But out of this situation came another five wonderful songs, including the album's gem, "God Is So Amazing," a simple, melodic testimony of faith during difficult times. After Tonight became another fine addition to Downing's growing discography, and "God Is So Amazing" stood as one of the year's best songs.

In 2009, fully recovered, Downing began work on Classique, a new album of originals and three cover songs, with producer Rex Rideout at the helm. The disc was released in June 2009 to positive reviews. And in 2010, he issued one of his most ambitious projects, an "audio novel" called Lust, Love and Lies, that detailed a relationship going through various stages, with spoken interludes between a very strong batch of songs. It was released to enthusiastic reviews.

Looking back over the last two decades, Will Downing has established himself as one of the most consistent, soulful singers of his era and arguably, with the unfortunate death of Luther Vandross, as today's leading provider of romantic, soulful music.