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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #5.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #05

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #5.   The year 2013 is shaping up to be an exciting one for group harmony, though sadly, we've already lost several more great singers.  Still, there's plenty of live vocal harmony to be heard and we're already involved in more projects than we can comfortably handle.  Again, we thank each and everyone of you who enjoys reading our newsletter, visiting www.classicurbanharmony.net, and/or attend our presentations and events.  We hope you'll continue to support 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, 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 - January 26, 2013

Display of rare African American Spirituals memorabilia in Franklin Township Public Library  

   Classic Urban Harmony is now displaying a collection of rare Spirituals-related memorabilia in the Franklin Township Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ.  It's part of Franklin Township's Cultural Arts Council's celebration of 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The display tells the story of African American Spirituals from slavery times through the mid-20th Century. All the memorabilia is from the Classic Urban Harmony Archives and includes songbooks, photographs, flyers, posters, etc. from the Fisk Jubilee Singers through the Swan Silvertones. The display will run through February 2013. This is worth seeing and you can also view it if you come early to our February 20, 2013 multimedia presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed the World".  Go to the What's New page of www.classicurbanharmony.net and follow the link to see more photos our our display.
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Teenagers' Jimmy Merchant, Earls' Larry Chance, at NJ Doo Wop Group Harmony Singers Club

  It's always a great time at the NJ Doo Wop Group Harmony Singers Club in North Brunswick, NJ, where singers get together and harmonize on the third Sunday of each month.  This January's meet up had a couple of added surprises when Teenagers' Jimmy Merchant and Earls' Larry Chance both drove in from out of state to attend.  (Left to right in photo: Larry Chance, Jimmy Merchant, Shelly Buchansky of Vito & Salutations and several other groups.)  Larry sang several songs backed by the doo wop acappella group, Re-MemberThen.  Jimmy entertained everyone with tales of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers.  We also got to hear about ten vocal groups sing; some professional and some pick up groups that organized at the club.  For photos of all the groups and a write up about the afternoon, see the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net. For details about the Doo Wop Singers Club  contact Stu Pushkin at doowopstu@hotmail.com.

Victor "Rod" Rodriguez of Cameos Dies

  Victor "Rod" Rodriguez lead and tenor of the New Jersey doo wop group, the Cameos, died this month. Victor was born in East New York and moved to the Bronx as a child. He was an original member of the Delmonicos (AKU and Joda Records). Victor later sang with John Kuss & the Excellents and the Creations (2003). In 2005, the Creations became Kid Kyle's Kool Kats. More recently, Victor has been singing with the Cameos.

Classic Urban Harmony Presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed The World," set for February 20.

Classic Urban Harmony in connection with the Franklin Township (NJ) Cultural Arts Council will present our newest multimedia presentation, "Crossing Jordan: How African American Spirituals Changed the World".at the Franklin Township (NJ) Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873, on Wednesday evening February 20, 2013 at 7 PM.  (In the event of severe inclement weather, the snow date is February 27).  The presentation will begin with the development of Spirituals during slavery times and discuss their religious origins as well as their use as communication among slaves (references to the Underground Railroad, etc).  We’ll then discuss the Fisk Jubilee Singers, their hardships, triumphs and accomplishments including singing before President Grant and Queen Victoria and exposing the rest of America and the world to African American culture.  We’ll cover Jubilee groups that sprang up after the Fisk Jubilee Singers.  Finally, we’ll cover how Spirituals evolved through the first half of the 20th Century.  The presentation is FREE to the public but you must register in advance by calling the library's Reference Desk at 732-873-8700.  The room is filling up quickly so don't delay in registering.  And while at the Library, take time to visit our display of Spirituals memorabilia.  For more information on these and other happenings, see the Events Calendar of www.classicurbanharmony.net

 

Asbury Park Historical Society Honors Bobby Thomas, West Side Singers at Video Screening

The Asbury Park (NJ) Historical Society celebrated Asbury Park's West Side harmony on Saturday January 19 by showing short videos of Bobby Thomas and Lenny Welch along with a video of the 2011 panel discussion between Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny Lyon, Bobby Thomas and Nicky Addeo, discussing the West Side's unique vocal harmony music scene. We (Charlie & Pam) got to give opening remarks about Bobby and Lenny. We also brought along our book of Asbury Park vocal group photos. To take a look of some photos of the event, see the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.

Al Grannum Dies, NYC Radio Personality

Former WLIB (NYC) radio personality, Al "Granulated" Grannum, passed away on January 4, 2013 at the age of 72. Al Grannum supplied numerous leads and anecdotes when Phil Groia was writing his groundbreaking book about NYC R&B vocal groups, "They All Sang On The Corner," and the two became good friends. Grannum is best known for his WLIB radio program in the late 1960's and early 1970's. In 1971, he helped break Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" in NYC. Al may have recorded with an R&B group in the 1950's but it was not something he talked about, so we don't know which group. Al did record on the A&G label in the late 1960's (as Al Grannum & the Granulated Souls) but he speaks rather than sings on it. Vocal group fans may recall Al Grannum writing the liner notes for Sonny Til & the Orioles RCA album (an album that included Bobby Thomas) or for emceeing the 1983 Black Swan concert in Burlington, NJ.  [Thanks to Phil Groia for notifying us about this.]

George Leon Dunbar, Owner of Philadelphia's Re-Dun label and first manager of the Coalitions, Dies

George Leon Dunbar, owner of Philadelphia's ReDun label and first manager of the Philly soul vocal group, the Coalitions died on December 26, 2012 at the age of 68. The Coalitions' soul harmony classic, "Instead... How Are You" was given a limited pressing on the ReDun label in 1974, before being picked up by Phil-LA of Soul.  If you've never heard this soul masterpiece by the Coalitions, go to the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net and scroll down to Leon Dunbar's obit.  We have a YouTube of the recording posted for you to listen to.  [Thanks to Charles Anderson for this item.]

Channels' Jack Brown Dies

This just in, Jack Brown (center of photo above), a member of Earl Lewis & the Channels died on January 20, 2013.  Jack Brown first joined Earl Lewis' group in 1970 and was on all of the group's recordings for the Rare Bird and Channel labels.  He left the group in 1975 but rejoined them in 1988, staying until recently, when the group stopped singing.  Jack began his singing career as a tenor, but later sang baritone and bass.  More details will be posted on our website as they become available.

Rev. Brenda Boone Presents Another Classic Gospel Program in Portsmouth, VA, February 17.  

    If you follow our website, you know that whenever possible, we try to attend Rev. Brenda Boone's annual February Gospel program. There's always hours of spectacular Gospel music from a dozen or more Gospel groups and/or soloists. This year is no exception. The program will feature Arthur Crume & the Original Soul Stirrers with special guest and former Soul Stirrer, Frankie Davis (in from Paris, France, where he's been singing with the Golden Gate Quartet), Rev. Luther Barnes & Sunset Jubilaires, Van Jones & King David's Harp, Min. Paul Boone & TempleAires, Elder Ronnie Harper & Harmonizing Echoes, the Gospel Disciples, the Word Singers, the Trumpeteers (St. Mark Deliverance Center, Portsmouth), Evangelist Tracy Edwards-Wright, Sister Carolyn Smith, the Gospel Travelers, the Brothers In Christ, and 5 year old Gospel vocalist Jessica Elise Warren. It all takes place on Sunday, February 17, 2013, beginning at 4 PM (doors open at 3) at St. Mark Deliverance Center, 3801 Turnpike Rd., Portsmouth, VA. Donation, $20 advance, $25 at the door. Contact phone numbers are 757-477-3828 or 757-539-3384.  See Our Events Calendar Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net for info on this and many other events featuring vocal group harmony.

Velours' lead Jerome Ramos (upper right in photo) Dies

We broke the sad news of Velours' lead Jerome Ramos' passing a couple weeks ago on our website.  Jerome Ramos died of throat cancer on October 21, 2012 at the age of 75.  His distinct tenor voice can be heard on such group classics as "My Love Come Back," "Romeo," "Can I Come Over Tonight," "This Could Be The Night," "Remember" and "Can I Walk You Home". Ramos also recorded with the late-sixties and seventies soul harmony group, the Fantastics who were also very popular in Great Britain.  We've now posted a tribute page to Jerome Ramos, complete with label scans and YouTubes of many of our Velours favorites so you can hear some of their records. We've even included a rare Belgian picture Sleeve of the Velours/Fantastics.  Visit the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net to take a look.

Larry Chance, Legendary Earls' Lead, Visits Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters 

     What a pleasant surprise to have Larry Chance, legendary lead of the Earls ("Remember Then," Life Is But A Dream," "Looking For My Baby," "I Believe" and many more) visit Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters recently! Larry was in town to attend the NJ Doo Wop Singers Club get-together where he sang, backed by the acappella vocal group, Re-MemberThen. Prior to his visit, we had a nice dinner with Larry and Deb, Frank and Marian Cicerale and Harry and Pat Maitland. Frank and Harry sing with Re-MemberThen.  (Above photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)

Great Time at Leisure Knolls Manchester, NJ

   On Friday, January 4, 2013, we gave our "Under the Streetlamp: Tales of the Doo Wop Era - Part 1" multimedia presentation before an enthusiastic audience of over a hundred residents of the Leisure Knolls community in Manchester, NJ. The event was sponsored by the local Knights of Columbus Council #10022 of Manchester and did we have a great time! Our sincere thanks to Mike Petrillo for arranging to have us give the presentation and to to all those who came out to see us.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and from the number of questions and comments after the presentation, we could tell the audience was quite knowledgeable. Our memorabilia table (see photo of Pam above) drew a lot of attention and many people signed up to receive our free CUH newsletter. We hope to be back to visit our new friends in Leisure Knolls in the near future.

Velons' James "Buddy" Owens Dies

    James "Buddy" Owens, long time member of the Washington, DC, vocal group the Velons, died January 10, 2013 at the age of 70. Owens began singing around 1958 with a group called the Versatiles, that also included Jay Wiggins of "Sad Girl" fame. In 1962, Buddy joined the Velons. He's been singing with the Velons ever since. Over the years, the Velons have been one of our favorite vocal harmony groups from the DC area. Buddy sang lead on a number of their recordings including "Your Promise To Be Mine," "Everybody's Got A Home But Me" and "Blue Lover". [Thanks to Beverly Lindsay-Johnson for letting us know about this.]

Julius Green of Mad Lads Dies

    Julius Green, an original founding member of the soul harmony group the Mad Lads died in mid-January, 2013. The Mad Lads got together at Booker T. Washington High School, in Memphis, TN, in the early 1960's. They soon signed with the local Stax label and became one of the record company's early success stories. Best known for their great 1965 ballad, "Don't Have To Shop Around," the Mad Lads will always be considered one of the great soul harmony groups of their time.

Soul Singer Herb Ward Dies

Philadelphia soul singer Herb Ward died Christmas Eve, 2012.  Herb is best known for the Northern Soul classic "Strange Change," a record produced by Weldon McDougal and associates at Harthon Records but released on the Argo label.  Vocal harmony fans like to flip the record over and listen to "Why Do You Want To Leave Me".  Herb was born Herbert McCracken and his first record was "If I Pray," was recorded for the small Philly label, Buddy.  He later recorded for Phil-L.A. of Soul and RCA-Victor.

Gervis "Gus" Tillman Honored by Asbury Angels Foundation.  Owned the Vibro label.

The Asbury Angels Foundation, whose mission is to honor and memorialize the lives and history of members of the Asbury Park (NJ) musical community, has announced its 2013 inductees to receive plaques on the Boardwalk of Fame. Fans of R&B vocal harmony will be pleased to see the inclusion of Gervis "Gus" Tillman, songwriter and owner of the Vibro Record label that released records by the Ray Dots, V-Eights, Mike Robinson, Delmar Goggins and others. Also being inducted is Leo Karp, owner of the famous West Side nightclub, Leo's Turf Club. Other inductees are Chris Barry (music journalist, promoter), Big Danny Gallagher (musician, songwriter), George Iocca (sound technician, owner of Dynacoustics), Kevin Kavanaugh (musician, piano teacher, Asbury Juke), Terry Magovern (icon), Phil Petrillo (master luthier, musician), Madame Era Tognoll (opera singer, founder of Metro Lyric Opera) and Bobby Williams (musician, Upstage veteran).  We (Pam & Charlie) are on the Advisory Committee to the Asbury Angels and recommended Gus Tillman for induction.  For those who have asked, Bobby Thomas will be eligible in 2014 as is almost sure to be included.

New Doo Wop Club Starts in Woodhaven, Queens

     A new doo wop club, Goodfellas Doo Wop Club, put together by Jackie Nunez, Warren Tesoro, Gotham Radio and Neirs Tavern, will present doo wop vocal groups on a monthly basis.  The next get together, on Sunday January 27, 2013, from 12 - 4 PM at Neirs Tavern, 87-48 78th Street, Woodhaven, NY will feature performances by the Acchords and the Teetones.  In addition, microphones are set up for guest singers.  All are invited to sing and/or socialize.  Some very special surprise guests are expected.  "There's a lot more to offer here Sunday afternoons at Neirs Tavern," says Warren Tesoro. "Delicious burgers, fries, steak, draft beer, no cover charge, relaxing atmosphere. I've never hosted a series of events like this before, I'm having fun. Jackie makes it easy... and of course Sound by BOSE."  The historic venue was the site of several scenes from the movie, "Goodfellas".  Mae West also sang there.  For info on the Goodfellas Doo Wop Club, contact Warren at 718-227-5449 or 46bongos@gmail.com

 

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.

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable online

    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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