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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #14.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #14

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #14.  It's been awhile since our last newsletter and we have a lot to catch you up on.  As you may have guessed, we've been busy with our big Gospel Explosion Concert honoring the great Asbury Park NJ gospel group the Missionary Jubilaires.  It was a huge success and a once-in-a-lifetime event (one of our best concerts ever), but now we're getting back to our regular routine.  Our five week course on group harmony at the Raritan Valley Community College is going great.  We've got concert reviews, news from around the doo wop world and unfortunately word of more music icons lost since the last newsletter.  This is our biggest newsletter to date.  We hope you'll find it informative.  Our readership is still expanding rapidly.  Please tell your friends about us.

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, lectures, college courses, concert production and emceeing, vocal group bookings, our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, and this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to CUH@att.net. - Charlie & Pam Horner - October 20, 2013

Asbury Park Gospel Explosion a huge success! More than 400 crowd Jersey Shore Arts Center to see a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Unbelievable!  Our one and only venture into producing a gospel concert turned into a defining moment for Classic Urban Harmony.  Many in attendance, including some of the singers themselves told us it was one of the best concerts they'd ever experienced.   Six vocal groups gave us such incredible vocal harmony that attendees are still talking about that night.  Our sincere thanks to Tyron McAllister & the Sons of Thunder, Brothers In Christ, the Spiritual Five, Quiet Storm, King David's Harp and Frankie Davis & the Mighty All Stars.  If that wasn't enough, we had the Mayor of Asbury Park read the proclamation of "Missionary Jubilaires Day" for 8 former group members.  The Rev. Joe Williams presented the group with a Gospel Heritage Award from the African American Museum of Philadelphia.  In a wild finale, Frankie Davis jumped off the stage into the audience and beckoned members of the Missionary Jubilaires to sing with him.  When they did, all pandemonium broke loose as people clapped and stomped their feet.  We could feel the walls shaking.  Above photo shows Missionary Jubilaires' Randy Wilson singing with Frankie Davis.  For the whole story and more than 150 photos, visit www.classicurbanharmony.net.  We hope to have video highlights posted soon.  [Photo above by John Cavanaugh.]

WHYY Connections Festival Combines Soul and Doo Wop Harmonies at Penn's Landing

We were sorry to see the Philadelphia Doo Wop Festival discontinued but were delighted to see its replacement, the Philadelphia Sound of Soul Festival, include both soul and doo wop harmonies.  We love both doo wop and soul harmony - actually we love all vocal harmony.  This year's September 8th Penn's Landing event was part of the two day outdoor WHYY Connections Festival.  Up first were two university acappella groups, Keystone A Capella and Owlcapella.  Though mostly singing modern style songs, Keystone Acappell did treat us to a nice version of "In The Still Of The Night".  Doo wop harmony was well represented by The Tributes and the Norristones (loved the Norristones rendition of the Donnie Elbert song, "My Confession Of Love").  A Perfect Blend gave us an outstanding mix of soul and doo wop acappella, including their version of the Chesters' "The Fires Burn No More".  It's hard to find a more exciting soul group than the Sensational Soul Cruisers and they were again, sensational.  Backed by a great band, they entertained us for an hour with non-stop energy.  The Soul Survivors, always Philly favorites, closed out the concert with a fine performance.  They ended with "Expressway To Your Heart".  [Photo above is A Perfect Blend at Penn's Landing.]

 

Breaking News!  New book coming soon details the true story of the original Duprees!

Our friend Tom Bialoglow along with John Salvato, both original founding members of the Duprees, are currently working on a book about the complete history of their group.  The book is said to contain rare photographs, interviews, original press ads, a complete discography and much more.  The biography will encompass the complete COED years with Joey Vann as well as the complete Heritage and Columbia years with Mike Kelly.  We hope to have more details soon.

Artifacts From Our Vaults: Postcard of the Four Lovers; forerunners of the 4 Seasons

From deep in our Classic Urban Harmony Archive vaults this issue, we've selected an original 1956 postcard of the Four Lovers, forerunners of the Four Seasons.  The group consisted of Frankie Valli (lead vocal, drums), Thomas DeVito (vocal, guitar), Henry Majewski (vocal, guitar) and Nicolas DeVito (vocal, bass).  After signing with RCA, the Four Lovers were given the song "Don't Be Cruel" by RCA songwriter Otis Blackwell.  Before they could record it, Elvis Presley's people heard the song and pressured RCA to give it to Elvis instead.  Blackwell tried to make it up to the Four Lovers by giving them his composition, "You're The Apple Of My Eye" instead.  In the early sixties, the Four Lovers evolved into the Four Seasons.  We'll have more artifacts from our vaults in future newsletters.

Classic Urban Harmony course, "Spirituals, Rhythm & Blues," Doo Wop & Soul Music," at the Bridgewater Campus of Raritan Valley Community College going strong.

Though it's too late for new additions to our class, we thought you'd want to know that Classic Urban Harmony's one a week, five week course on "Spirituals, Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop & Soul Harmony" at Raritan Valley Community College's Bridgewater Campus, is going strong.  Now completing third week, we've already done an overview of quartet singing from the 1800's to the 1960's soul era and covered Brooklyn and New Jersey doo wop groups.  Next week we cover Philadelphia groups.  It's part of the college's Lifelong Learning Program.  The course ends in a couple weeks but we've had so much fun we may do this again some time.

"Beautiful," Carole King Musical to open on Broadway

"Beautiful," the musical about the early career of Carole King, is slated to open on Broadway on November 17, 2013 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 West 43rd Street, NYC.  Carole King, with her husband Gerry Goffin, wrote some of the most endearing group harmony songs including "Up On The Roof" and "Some Kind Of Wonderful," (Drifters), "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" (Shirelles), "Chains" (Cookies) and dozens more.   
 

Morris Museum's 2011 "Jersey Rocks" Exhibit now a website.

If you missed the big 2011 Morris Museum exhibit "Jersey Rocks" about New Jersey's contributions to Rock & Roll, there's now a website based on the exhibit. Classic Urban harmony's Pam & Charlie Horner assisted the museum in designing and explaining the Roots of Rock & Roll part of the display with items from the Classic Urban Harmony Archives (see above photo). Go to Jersey Rocks  and click "Rock & Roll Roots" at the top of the page.  Then click on the top right photo to see our memorabilia on the Coleman Brothers, Avons and Plurals, etc.

Classic Urban Harmony Doo Wop Presentation a hit at East Brunswick NJ Senior Center

On October 8, 2013, Classic Urban Harmony's Pam & Charlie Horner gave the multimedia presentation, "Under The Streetlamp: Tales From the Doo Wop Era - Part 1" to a packed hall at the East Brunswick (NJ) Senior Center.  What an enthusiastic reception!  People lined up to flip through Pam's memorabilia and photo displays (see photo above) and our presentation was well received.  At the end, we were presented with an artistic hand drawn poster thanking us for the program.  See www.classicurbanharmony.net for more photos.

Kenny Whiteside of the Cleftones dies.

Kenny Whiteside, a later member of the doo wop group, the Cleftones died Wednesday September 4, 2013, of cancer.  He was 70.  A talented singer, Kenny had been singing doo wop since he was 13,  He also played drums.  Kenny joined the Cleftones in 1997 and remained with them until his passing.  The above photo shows the Cleftones at the 2011 Philly Doo Wop Festival.  Kenny is at the far left.

Another great time at 2013 Lead East

Every year we try to get to at least one day of Lead East, the world's largest 50's party in Parsippany, NJ.  This year Lead East ran from August 28 to September 1 and we attended the Saturday session, in time to see the afternoon acappella group concert.  Five groups performed including the Vic Donna Group (seen above), Memories Of You, the Norristones, the Dolphins and Classic Sounds.  We also caught the Whiptones in an impromptu performance in the lobby area.  As usual there were countless classic cars and plenty of activities.  We had a great time.

Bobby Thomas scheduled for an Asbury Angels plaque on Asbury Park "Boardwalk of Fame"

While there's not yet been an official announcement, inside sources tell us that the late Bobby Thomas is scheduled to be awarded an Asbury Angels plaque on the Asbury Park (NJ) Boardwalk of Fame in 2014.  The Asbury Park singer passed away in 2012 and will be honored as an "Asbury Angel" sometime next summer in his first year of eligibility.  Bobby Thomas sang with the Vibranaires, Vibes, V-Eights and Orioles.  Classic Urban Harmony will be providing the biographical sketch of Bobby to go on the Asbury Angels website.  We'll give more details once this becomes official.

Whiptones second CD right on the money!

The Whiptones, the talented teenage acappella doo wop group from Whippany NJ, is out with their second CD, and this one is a winner.  While we enjoyed the group's first CD, it was heavy with common, well-known, doo wop standards.  With their second CD, however, the Whiptones venture into some more complex material, sure to please a deeper audience.  Here the group gives their renditions of "Who's that Knockin'" (Genies), "My Girlfriend" (Cadillacs), "Come Back My Love" (Wrens), "Oh Rosemarie" (Fascinators) and "Long Tall Girl" (Carnations).  It's great to see this young group performing on so many shows around the New Jersey area.  You can visit their website at www.THEWHIPTONES.com.

Sylvia Sanchez of the Claremonts and Tonettes dies

Sylvia Sanchez of the Claremonts (Apollo label) and Tonettes (Doe label) died on October 17, 2013.  The Claremonts were a Bronx trio that had one record for Apollo ("Angel Of Romance" / "Why Keep Me Dreaming". The group was  one of the few white female trios ever to sing at the Apollo Theatre.  When Apollo label executive, Charles Merenstein, later formed the Doe label, he took the group with him and changed their name to the Tonettes.  There they released "Oh What A Baby" / "Howie".  They also backed Vince Castro on his hit record, "Bong Bong".  [Thanks to Vince Castro for this item.]  [Above photo is the Tonettes].

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here are repeated on our website with additional details and photos. To read more visit the "What's New Page" of www.classicurbanharmony.net. And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.

Bobby Mansfield, great lead of the R&B group, the Wrens dies at age 76.

We were stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, Bobby Mansfield, lead singer of the legendary R&B vocal group the Wrens on Sunday September 15, 2013.  He was 76.  Best known for the 1955 released classic, "Come Back My Love," the Wrens were from the Morrisania section of the Bronx.  The group also gave us the classic R&B recordings "Beggin' For Love," "Serenade Of The Bells," "I Won't Come To Your Wedding," "Love's Something That's Made For Two," "Eleven Roses" and "C'est La Vie" (the last recording has some of the Valentines backing Bobby Mansfield).  Bobby Mansfield reunited the Wrens for Ronnie I's UGHA in the 1990's.  Bobby Mansfield also sang with the Morrisania Review in the 1990's, at which time he was a guest on my [Charlie's] radio program.  We stayed in touch.  This is another huge loss to our music family. - Charlie & Pam.  [Bobby is seen at the top of the photo above.  Thanks to George Lavatelli for letting us know.]

Dean Barlow, lead of the legendary fifties R&B group, the Crickets, dies at 78.

Grover "Dean" Barlow (on right in the above photo), lead of the great Bronx R&B vocal group, the Crickets, died Sunday September 29, 2013, at a nursing home in North Carolina.  Dean was 78.  Dean Barlow led the Crickets on such classic songs like "You're Mine," "Be Faithful," Changing Partners," "For You I Have Eyes" and others.  He later recorded with the Bachelors and Montereys and as a solo artist.  In the late 1980's and early 1990's Dean sang with the Morrisania Review, an all-star group that also contained Lillian Leach, Waldo Champion, Bobby Mansfield, Arthur Crier, Sammy Fain and Eugene Thompkins.  It was while with the Morrisania Review, that Dean Barlow was a guest on my [Charlie's] radio program in Philadelphia.  Dean was the second member of the Morrisania Review to die this month.  Lillian Leach died earlier this year.  Dean was a great guy and we'll miss him.  We'll always remember him through the songs he gave us.
Keith Sabu Crier of soul group, GQ dies.  Son of late R&B group singer, Arthur Crier.
Keith "Sabu" Crier (second from the left in the above photo), bass player with the funk group the Rhythm Makers (Vigor label) and soul disco group GQ died suddenly Sunday September 29, 2013.  He was 58.  GQ scored a number one hit in 1979 with "Disco Nights".  The group was also quite good at vocal harmony, as demonstrated by their 1979 covers of the Billy Stewart songs, "I Do Love You" (1979) and "Sitting In The Park" (1980).  Keith Crier grew up in the Bronx in a musical family.  He was the son of the late R&B group vocalist, Arthur Crier.  In a tragic coincidence, Arthur Crier had been a member of the Morrisania Review, a group that lost two former members this month (see earlier articles on Bobby Mansfield and Dean Barlow).   [Thanks to Norman Donegan for this item.]

From Paul Ressler's Archives - Dean Barlow and Alan Freed postcard

Each newsletter we try to feature a rare photo or piece of memorabilia from our friend Paul Ressler's extensive archives.  This time we thought it appropriate to spotlight this postcard of Dean Barlow with radio personality, Alan Freed.  Dean is holding up sign promoting his 1955  solo release of "I'll String Along With You" (Jay Dee label).  We'll be featuring more items from Paul Ressler's archive next issue.  Thanks, Paul!

Classic Urban Harmony's FREE multimedia presentation, "Tales from the Doo Wop Era - Part 1" scheduled for the Montville Township (NJ) Public Library, Sunday October 27 at 2 PM.  Registration is now opened.

Classic Urban Harmony returns to the Montville Township (NJ) Public Library on Sunday October 27 at 2 PM for the FREE multimedia presentation, "Under The Streetlamp: Tales From the Doo Wop Era - Part 1".  The Montville Library has a huge modern electronic screen that really brings our presentations to life.  The Montville Township Public Library is located at 90 Horseneck Rd., Montville, NJ.  The event is FREE but you must register as space is limited.  Registration is now open and easy by calling 973-402-0900, Ext. 227.  For more info, see the Events Calendar Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.

Kenny Seymour of Little Anthony's Imperials, Blue Chips and the Impacts dies.

We are sad to report the passing of Kenny Seymour of the Impacts, Blue Chips and Little Anthony & the Imperials. Kenny died September 1, 2013, after a long illness. As well as a great entertainer, Kenny was also a songwriter, penning "Bring Back Your Heart" for the Del Vikings among other songs. The complete Impacts/Blue Chips story was written by Steven Kahn and can be found in Echoes of the Past magazine #103. Kenny's contributions to the Imperials can be found in our articles on Sammy Strain (Parts 3 and 4) in Echoes of the Past #103 and #104. [All parts of the Sammy Strain Story are also posted to our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net].

Bobby Martin, Legendary Philadelphia Soul Music Arranger dies at 83.

Bobby Martin, legendary Philadelphia soul music producer, arranger and composer, died Friday September 6, 2013 at a hospital in San Diego, CA.  He was 83.  Bobby Martin was born in Lockland, OH on May 4, 1930.  Influenced by Lionel Hampton, Martin began playing vibes.  He moved to Philadelphia in 1951 and later played in Illinois Jacquet's band.  By the early 1960's he was arranging and producing songs at Harold B. Robinson's studio, beneath Robinson's car dealership at Broad & Girard Streets.  It was there at Newtown Records, that Bobby Martin began producing songs for Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, among others.    Bobby's success in producing records soon  caught the attention of the upcoming Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who brought Martin into their ventures where Bobby became a vital part of the MFSB team and "The Sound Of Philadelphia".  We arranged and/or produced hits by Billy Paul, the O'Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Intruders, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, and many many more.  Bobby Martin was awarded something like 18 Grammys. 

Bob Marovich of Black Gospel Blog visits Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters

To keep up on the latest news in black gospel music there's one source we constantly turn to, the Black Gospel Blog website.  We were then honored when the website's creator, internationally-known gospel music historian Bob Marovich paid us a visit on October 14.  While Bob's home base is Chicago, he was in New Jersey for a few days doing research.  We had a great time showing Bob our own archive's gospel photos and sheet music and just discussing gospel music and vocal harmony in general.  If you've not yet visited Bob's blog, you can do so by clicking Black Gospel Blog.  

New Prisonaires Documentary competing in 2013 International Black Film Festival in Nashville

The new critically acclaimed documentary about the great R&B vocal group, the Prisonaires is set to compete in the 2013 International Black Film Festival in Nashville TN, October 31 through November 3.  The documentary of Johnny Bragg & the Prisonaires is the inspirational story of the Tennessee State Prison vocal group that recorded "Just Walking In The Rain," "My God Is Real," "A Prisoners Prayer" and a number of other great songs for Sun Records in 1953.  The a rough cut of the documentary debuted last year at the 8th Annual Harlem International Film Festival where it drew much praise.  For a press release of the film click Prisonaires Documentary.

VGHA's A Cappella Extravaganza III an all-star night!

On Saturday night October 12, 2013, New Jersey's Vocal Group Harmony Association (VGHA) held it's third A Cappella Extravaganza at the Paramus (NJ) Elks Club.  Performing were eight very fine acappella vocal groups including Grand Central Echo, Memories Of You, the Teen*Sations, Echoes Of Time, Choice, Re-MemberThen, Sentimental Reasons and Quiet Storm.  The concert was emceed by Nick Galletta and special guest host, Alan David Stein.  It was a super night!  For a review of the concert and many photos visit the link on the What's New page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  For upcoming VGHA events see www.vgha.net.   [Photo above is Quiet Storm].

Reverend Charlie Brown of the gospel group, the Fantastic Violinaires, dies.

Reverend Charlie Brown lead and harmony singer for the great gospel group, the Fantastic Violinaires died Tuesday October 8, 2013, in Atlanta GA after a long illness.  Rev. Brown was born in Cordell, GA, and joined the Violinaires in 1969.  He had previously sung with the legendary Pilgrim Jubilees.  He's seen in the group's 2008 album above on the far right.

Classic Urban Harmony & Asbury Park Historical Society preparing a museum-like exhibit of the city's West Side music history for the 2015 Light of Day concert series

Classic Urban Harmony is proud to announce a new major project to take place in January 2015.  Working with the Asbury Park Historical Society and the Light Of Day Foundation, we are planning a museum-like exhibit on the music history of Asbury Park's West Side.  The exhibit will contain dozens of photos, records, posters and other memorabilia from both R&B and gospel artists from the West Side.  R&B artists covered will included Bobby Thomas & the Vibranaires, the Ray Dots, the V-Eights, the Broadways, Lenny Welch, the Uniques, Billy Brown, etc..  Gospel artists will include the Missionary Jubilaires, the Golden Harmonaires, the United Gospel Singers and more.  The exhibit will also include the record labels Vibro and Selsom. The exhibit will be on display in a gallery in downtown Asbury Park during the annual Light Of Day concert series, an event that attracts an audience from around the world.  It is a fund raiser for the Light Of Day Foundation, an organization raising money for research into Parkinson's disease.  After the concert series ends, we hope to move the exhibit to a nearby university or museum.  [Photo above is of Bobby Thomas (center) and Lenny Welch (top right) in the Vibes.]  

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on line

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.
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