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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #41  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #41

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #41.  Our FREE email newsletter doesn't follow any regular schedule but we do try to publish every 4 to 6 weeks or so.  As always, there's a lot here, not in any particular order.  So please keep reading until the end.

Quote of the month: "Do you know that our soul is composed of harmony?" - Leonardo da Vinci

Classic Urban H
armony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum exhibits & displays, radio guest appearances, lectures, college courses, concert production and emceeing, consultation for documentaries, 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 & Pamela Horner - September 29, 2019.

Classic Urban Harmony's Huge Acappella Reunion with  Five UGHA Vocal Groups getting close! 

Just days now, until our big Friday Oct 4, Acappella Reunion: Memories Of UGHA concert.  Reserved Seats and General Admission tickets can still be ordered by check and now through PayPal at this Acappella Reunion Concert link.  Last minute tickets will be held for pickup at Will Call.  Only a few $50 Reserved Seats left.  General admission seats are $40 each.  We expect some General Admission tickets will be available at the door the night of the concert, but email us to be sure.  
Classic Urban Harmony is bringing together, for one evening only, five groups who were a vital part of Ronnie I’s United in Group Harmony Association back in the day. 
At 7 PM, Friday, October 4, 2019, we will relive the UGHA days when we bring to the stage of the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre, the Cliftonaires, the Sheps, Choice, Patty & the Street-Tones/Mixed Company and the Grand Central Echoes.  They all will be singing acappella.  As a special bonus, John Kuse, lead of the Excellents and original member of Grand Central Echoes will be rejoining GCE one last time to sing "Coney Island Baby" acappella.  Accept no substitutes. This is the real thing and it will be historic.  Watch the promo video produced by Stevie Dunham and Tony O.

Leroy "Ding" McCray, former singer with Choice, passes. 
We are saddened to hear that Leroy "Ding" McCray (aka "The Doctor") former baritone, undertone, 2nd tenor and arranger from the earliest days of the great acappella group Choice, passed away on Monday, August 26, 2019.  McCray is seen in the photo above (pictured in foreground, blue jacket), courtesy of Christine Vitale.  Here's an incredible YouTube of Leroy singing "Two Loves Have I".

Classic Urban Harmony's Pam & Charlie Horner Honored by Asbury Park Historical Society

On Thursday, October 10, we (Pam and Charlie Horner) will be honored as "Asbury Heroes" by the Asbury Park Historical Society. We've been selected to jointly receive the organizations' Distinguished Historian Award for our continuing work to preserve the legacy of music from the city's West Side. The presentation will take place from 6 - 9 PM at the Society's awards dinner at Jimmy's Italian Restaurant, 1405 Asbury Avenue, Asbury Park.  We invite our friends to join us.  Tickets can be purchased on the APHS website, http://www.aphistoricalsociety.org/  Pam and I are grateful for the recognition and are working hard on our two volume book on Asbury Park West Side Music (1880 - 1980). We love Asbury Park and thank the APHS for all they do to preserve its history.  Honorees include::
Tom & Regina Hayes - The Historic Preservation Award
Charlie & Pam Horner - The Distinguish Historian Award
Bob Stewart - The Historic Stewardship Award
Don McLain - The Community Service Award

Young people will never know what it was like collecting records back in the day!  

Motown Record Label turns 60 Years Old!

The record label and sound that many of us grew up with, Motown, is celebrating its diamond anniversary in 2019, marking 60 years since Berry Gordy Jr. founded the company.  I (Charlie) recall all the early Motown records coming out.  At first I was concerned about the new sound disrupting the R&B vocal harmony styles of the 1050's and early 1960's.  But soon came to appreciate the genius of songs by the Miracles and Temptations and others.  Certainly the Motown sound changed all of our lives.  Happy Birthday, Motown.  And thank you. 

Motown released 60 previously unreleased songs from 1969 to commemorate 60th anniversary

To commemorate their 60th anniversary, Motown has released 60 previously unreleased sides from their vaults, all recorded in 1969.  The songs included recordings by the Temptations, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Frank Wilson, the Volumes, Bobby Taylor, Smokey Robinson and many others.  Many of the songs are quite good, and could have been released in 1969, had it not been for the fact that Motown was flooding the airwaves with other great songs at the time.  Our only complaint was that the songs have only been issues as downloads or streaming.  There is no vinyl or CD equivalent.  Some people are complaining that the sampling or bit rate is low on downloads.  We don't know about that because, of course, we're vinyl people.  But we applaud Motown for releasing these great songs.  [This release continues Motown's series of albums of previously unreleased material annually since 2015.]  To see a track listing visit Amazon.  

Motown's Berry Gordy retires at 89.
 

Berry Gordy, the man who founded Motown Records and turned it into a multimedia empire in the 1960s and 1970s, has announced he's retiring at age 89.  His announcement comes as Motown is celebrating it's 60th anniversary in a year with all kinds of events including a documentary, a Grammy special, and the release of dozens of previously unreleased recordings from 1969.  The Detroit record label made household names of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and many more.  Motown became America’s largest black-owned company for many years.

Motown Museum begins $50 Million renovation!

On September 22, 2019, during the celebration of Motown Records’ 60th anniversary, the Motown Museum broke ground on a major expansion.  The current Motown Museum is housed in the original house where Berry Gordy lived and recorded the Motown hits.  It contains photos, costumes, artwork, music and other memorabilia.  The expansion is expected to cost $50 million.  So far, they’ and announced that it’s gotten halfway to its total funding goal of $50 million.  The groundbreaking marks the beginning of the first of four phases of construction on the 50,000 square foot campus that’s now called Hitsville.  The museum is remodeling three houses to the east of Hitsville U.S.A., the museum and home where Berry Gordy launched his music empire, as well as a glass atrium connecting the buildings.    It’s slated for a summer 2020 completion.  Once opened, it will allow the museum to offer more educational opportunities, including a program designed to match youth with mentors in the music industry.
 

Rare Motown acetates held by our Classic Urban Harmony Archives. 

Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives contain many unreleased recordings, existing as 45 rpm dubs, test pressings and metal acetates.  Of particular interest to this issue of our CUH newsletter are several metal acetates that are said to have come from Motown's Hitsville Studio itself.  These were purchased at a record convention in Detroit some 30+ years ago, so we can't be sure of their origin but we can guess.  Back in the day, Motown truly operated as a hit making factory.  Writers were hired to sit and write songs all week.  When they had a completed song, they'd look for whatever Motown artists happened to be in the studio and had them record the song as a "demo," pressing an acetate to present to the Motown "board" for approval.  These demos were never meant to be finished product.  They were only made to give the Motown board a chance to hear the tune.  If it passed the weekly "test," the song was given to an established artist and producer.  But these early one-of-a-kind demo acetates often contained big name Motown artists singing early versions of songs that may or may not have ever been released.  Our archives has a number of these acetates with artists uncredited.  Listening to the voices, we think we have ones by the Contours, Marv Johnson, Temptations, Spinners and Originals.  The one pictured above, "Make Sure," was said to be by the Five Stars.  Hearing a female voice, we instead believe it to be by the Rayber Voices.   

Margie Clarke of the Jewels passes.

Marjorie (Margie) Clarke, original member of the Washington CD group, the Jewels (formerly The 4 Jewels) of "Opportunity" "Johnny Jealousy" and "Loaded With Goodies" fame, passed away in mid-September.  The Jewels were discovered by Bo Diddley and recorded on the Chess/Checker Records label, Their national hit "Opportunity" was on the Dimensions label.  Here's a video of The Jewels with Margie Clarke leading the song "Johnny Jealousy" from 2015.  Click Jewels  Margie is the second from the right in the above photo.  [Thanks to Beverly Lindsay-Johnson for letting us know.]

More lost luminaries.

Write obituaries is as depressing for us as reading them is for you.  Sadly we've lost even more singers than the ones written about so far.  To keep this newsletter to a reasonable length, we'll just list the others who have passed since our last issue.  This is not meant as a slight to any of the following as they are all important to us and to our music.
  • Milton Riley of the CT vocal group, the Crown Imperials at age 71
  • Bruce Dunbar of the Philly soul group, the Coalitions

Visit our website.

If you haven't visited our website in awhile, you're in for a treat.  The Articles By Us page lists our many articles from Echoes of the Past, which you can click on and read.  We've just added the last two articles - "Joel Katz, Part 4" and the "1979 Concert that Brought Acappella Back to Philadelphia".  And don't forget to check out the Events Page for a listing of what's going on.  For more about Classic Urban Harmony's activities, along with news, articles, photos and videos, please visit our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net.

Like Us On FaceBook

Are you on FaceBook?  We have a Classic Urban Harmony LLC FaceBook Page.  We invite you to "Like" and follow it. 

Getting ready for the Acappella Reunion concert 

Seen here is Jimmy Wiener, member of our Classic Urban Harmony team, getting posters made for our October 4 Acappella Reunion concert.  Jimmy can been seen at most classic car shows and doo wop events passing out flyers and getting the word out about our concert and others.  Jimmy's one of the most dedicated fans of our music.  Thank you Jimmy, for your tireless support!   

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on our website!

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.  You can also see all of our past CUH email newsletters from the link on our website's Articles Page.  here's a Direct Link.

is gearing up for another East Coast Music Hall Of Fame already working hard on 2020 Awards Gala.

The East Coast Music Hall Of Fame is gearing up for another huge awards gala in the summer of 2020 - this one even bigger and better than the last one. Your Boards of Directors is working hard on planning it and will be announcing details as soon as they are finalized  To join the East Coast Music Hall Of Fame and keep up on our events visit www.ECMHOF.org.

Kevin Lucas of the acappella group, Charm, dies. 

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Lucas, first tenor of the Jersey City acappella group Charm. Kevin died the first week of September, 2019 of pneumonia, a complication of Lupus.  Charm began singing in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1979.  They were soon discovered by UGHA president, Ronnie I, who signed them to his Clifton label.  The group's debut album, introduced the world to the first vocal group arrangement of "So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday," before Boyz-II-Men.  Charm also backed Billy Joel on "The Longest Time".  In the early 1980's John Moore and I [Charlie] brought Charm down to Philadelphia to appear on one of our stage shows at the Golden House Inn.  Click Charm to watch the group sing "The Longest Time".  Kevin is seen in the bottom center of the photo.

Our "Chorner1" YouTube Channel still going strong!
Having recently passed the half million views point, our channel, chorner1, is still going strong.  Since last month's newsletter, our 320 acappella videos have had almost 10,000 new views.  To take a look click chorner1 YouTubes.  You might want to subscribe and follow to be notified when we post new videos.  Over 700 people now subscribe already!  Watch some past YouTube videos of groups that will be performing in our Oct 4 Acappella Reunion Concert in Morristown NJ:

  1. Sheps - Starting From Tonight
  2. Patty & Street Tones / Mixed Company - What Cha Gonna Do

  3. Choice - Love Is Here
  4. Grand Central Echoes - Let Me Love You
  5. Cliftonaires - I've Got A Feeling

Rare Vocal Group Record from the CUH Archives - NEW FEATURE

With this issue, we start a new feature picking a very rare R&B vocal group record, telling its story and how we acquired our copy.  This issue, we pick “Sunny Side Of The Street” by uncredited group on the Seeburg label.  The J. P. Seeburg Corporation, known for jukeboxes, was founded in 1901.  In 1954 they entered the background music business (elevator music) and their music system needed a large selection of recorded music.  So, they started licensing songs and having them recorded anonymously by New York orchestras.  They issued these on 45 rpm EP’s, accumulating 1200 titles between 1954 and 1956.  These records were pressed by RCA Custom Record Division and were never for sale.  Seeburg would rent a background music system to a company along with a stack of their records and them come back and change the records every several weeks.  Over the years, Seeburg must have made thousands of these EP’s but I know of ONLY ONE with a black vocal group on it.  Val Shively played “Sunny Side Of The Street” as a guest on my radio program in the late 1970’s and I spend years trying to find a copy.  I’d often find Seeburgs in flea markets but never the one I wanted.  Then, about 30 years ago, I saw a huge box of Seeburg green label 45’s at a record convention in Detroit.  Must have been a few hundred Seeburg records there and I sat on the floor and went through every one of them, reading the titles.  Suddenly, there it was – Seeburg EP 2103.   Mint condition for only $1.  It dates from 1955.  Anybody know who the group is?   

TNT North Jersey R&B & Doo Wop Party enjoying its new home in Garfield.

With our hectic schedule, it took us a little while to get over to the TNT North Jersey R&B & Doo Wop Party's monthly get together at their new home in Garfield NJ.  We've now been there a couple times and it's a fabulous venue to listen to group harmony collectors spin rare sounds from their collections.  This September 20 the music dee jays featured included club co-founders Tony O and Tom Harford along with Carl Tancredi, Ronnie Sherman and special guest, Joel Katz who brought along some rare and unreleased records he sang on.  The next get-together will be Friday night, Oct. 18 and the location is the VFW Hall, 340 Outwater Lane, Garfield, NJ.  Spinning songs that night will be Tom Rowell, Buzz Bernekow, Frank Cassi & Seymore Simon and special guest celebrity DJ Ruth McFadden featuring her music.  For info, call 973-652-5949.  For those who live too far to attend, you can listen to excepts from prior parties every Wednesday at 7 PM (EST) and Sunday 6 AM (EST) on RemembeThenRadio.  We thank the founders and producers of TNT - Tony Oetjen, Tom Harford and Pam Nardella - for their dedication to our music.  [above photo: Joel Katz & Tony O spinning sides.]

Doo Wop & R&B Vocal Group Documentaries 

There have a number of doo wop documentaries in the last several years.  This article explores a few of them worth noting. 

"Streetlight Harmonies"
This documentary fully illuminates the music genre called Doo Wop.  Directed by Brent Wilson and produced by Tim Headington and Theresa Page, this 2017 film is an entertaining journey through the music’s history.  It contains interviews with many singers such as La La Brooks (Crystals), Vito Picone (Elegants), Charlie Thomas (Drifters), Jimmy Merchant (Teenagers), Lois Powell (Chantels), Terry Johnson (Whispers, Flamingos), Billy Brown (Moments, Ray, Goodman, & Brown, Broadways), Ronald Coleman (Uniques, Broadways) and many more.  Charlie and I were the historians on this documentary and provided many of the group photos, sheet music and posters shown.  Charlie had a number of on-screen appearances in the film, sharing his knowledge.  We also helped with contacts for singers and with filming locations including our exhibit at Monmouth University.  Click Streetlight Harmonies to watch a short trailer of the film.  This documentary is not available for viewing at this time but we may "be showing it in 2020.  Stay tuned for details  

"A Lesson In A Cappella"  
This documentary was produced and directed by Keith Lewis of Visual Communications Group, Inc.  James Power (Composer/Lyricist/ Musician) assisted in the filming and wrote the liner notes.  It features some of the great acappella groups mostly from the New Jersey and Pennsylvania areas.  The talent included Choice (Jersey City Bad Boys of acappella), Jerry Lawson & The Talk of the Town, A Perfect Blend, Authenix, Carol B. Tompkins, Cordial Agreement, Shades of Soul, The GrooveBarbers, and TruSol. The singing is flawless and magnificent.  Every group was impressive.  My better half was the historian who helped explain the genre of doo wop.  Charlie’s appearance was filmed at Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters.  Even if you’re not into history, see this doc for the sheer talent and dynamite renditions of doo wop songs.  The documentary runs 90 minutes.  You can see a trailer of this documentary a on YouTube by clicking “Lesson”.

"Voices of Doo Wop"
This is a documentary featuring the Chords, Lillian Leach & the Mellows, and Eugene Thompkins among others.  Some of it was filmed at Ronnie I’s Clifton Music.  Also, filmed at UGHA as part of an actual show.  It really gives one the flavor and excitement of a UGHA Show.  It was produced by Tom Spain and can be watched on YouTube by clicking “Voices”.

"The Chords: Sh-Boom Documentary"
The story of the Bronx R&B group, the Chords.  Interviews with Eugene Thompkins, Floyd McRay (Chords), Arthur Cryer (Mellows), and Terry Stewart (former President of the Rock & Hall of Fame).  The Chords were James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards.  They wrote “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)” in 1954 and had a #2 recording on the Billboard R&B charts and #9 on the Pop Charts.   Jimmy Keyes was a friendly man and a great storyteller.  He once told me he liked to telling stories and preceded to tell me one.  Many groups over the years have covered this song.  Check Wikipedia for recordings by others. This documentary is on YouTube.  Click “Chords”.

There are many other documentaries on doo wop music.  Go to google and type in Doo Wop documentaries. - Pamela Horner

Our Music in Commercials Part 3: The Strollers on States in Xfinity commercial

In recent newsletters we've told of our vocal harmony records finding use in TV commercials.  Well this has to be the strangest one of all.  Xfinity has just released a new commercial promoting their xFi app, while the Strollers' "Go Where Baby Lives" plays in the background!  The 60-second ad, titled “Rendezvous,” features a teenage boy as he sneaks into the bedroom window of his girlfriend. He is seen sprinting, dealing with the family’s dog and climbing to the girl’s room. No sooner does he get there, than the girl’s father shows up, saying “You must be Steven’s phone”.  The man, an Xfinity customer, had the xFi app notify him when a new device has joined.  Clever plot, but where did the commercial's creators find the Strollers record?  It's a not that well known record that came out in 1957 and books for about $300.  [Yes, we do have an original copy in the Classic Urban Harmony Archives.]  Click Xfinity to watch the commercial and click Strollers to hear the entire record.  [Thanks to Angelo Pompeo for bringing this to our attention.]

Are you receiving the Doo Wop Ramblings newsletter?

If you're enjoying reading this newsletter, there's another great free email newsletter we know you'll enjoy and this one comes out weekly!  Doo Wop Ramblings hits your inbox every Sunday.  You can subscribe by visiting Subscribe Now.

Yet, Another Great Newsletter you should be receiving!

In addition to the newsletter above, you need to check out the New England Doo Wop Society's free email newsletter.  Published by our friends Bob Belniak and Gary Jones the NEDWS is quite active in keeping our music alive in New England but their newsletter covers music news from all over.  Click Subscribe to get on their mailing list.

Artifacts from our Classic Urban Harmony Archive Vaults

From deep in the Classic Urban Harmony Vaults comes an unusual artifact.  it's a numbered print of a painting by noted Kansas City artist, Cindy Alkire.  Ours is #14 of 300 prints made.  The subject of the painting is the R&B and Jazz vocal group, the Scamps (sometimes known as the 5 Scamps) who recorded for Columbia and OKeh Records as gar back as the 1940's.  I acquired this painting from an arts store in Kansas City about 25 years ago.  Of course the Scamps were from Kansas City.  What possessed this artist to paint the Scamps?  Cindy Alkire once said, "I've always enjoyed Kansas City's local jazz personalities as they performed in various clubs throughout the city, so I decided to showcase their marvelous talents by creating these original portraits."

Spotlight on Coffee Cup Artist Ronnie Grozinski

Today's artists look to different media to express themselves.  Beyond classical painting and sculpture, today’s avant-garde artists often experiment with unexpected materials and unconventional methods of creating.  In this issue, we are proud to spotlight the creative talents of our friend Ronnie Grozinski, who has taken to creating unique coffee mugs with R&B and Doo Wop vocal harmony themes.  We have a number of Grozinski’s masterpieces in our Classic Urban Harmony Archives, including ones commemorating Quiet Storm, Fred Parris, Willie Winfield, Larry Chance and Joel Katz.  Ronnie’s latest creation is a coffee up with our Acappella Reunion poster.  We believe Ronnie will have some of his ceramic art work at our Oct 4 concert.  Thank you Ronnie.  You are truly the “Michelangelo of Mugs”.
 
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