GAMBLE & HUFF Receive Star-Studded Salute with Patti LaBelle at 2016 Marian Anderson Awards [Photos]


By Jack Barnes

Legendary Philadelphia International Records co-founders and R&B pioneers Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff received the 2016 Marian Anderson Award during a much-anticipated gala last night at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Their co-honoree was lifelong friend and fellow Philadelphia R&B legend Patti LaBelle, whose heralded solo career as “The Godmother of Soul” was launched at Gamble & Huff’s historic label, Philadelphia International Records, as one of the Sound of Philadelphia’s foremost recording artists.

This was the first year since 2008 that the Marian Anderson Award has been awarded to multiple recipients and the first year the Marian Anderson Award has partnered with The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia’s world-class performing arts campus.

Pioneering “Sound of Philadelphia” architects Kenneth Gamble, left, and Leon Huff, congratulate each other as honorees at last night’s 2016 Marian Anderson Awards. Photo credit: David Ickes.

Photo Credit: David Ickes

The Marian Anderson Award was created to celebrate critically acclaimed artists who have used their talents for personal artistic expression and whose bodies of work have contributed to our society in a singular manner. It is named in memory of the legendary singer and distinguished Philadelphian, Marian Anderson.

Gamble & Huff launched Philadelphia International Records in 1970 and exemplify R&B music in Philadelphia. They went on to write pop and R&B #1 hits, numerous gold and platinum records, as well as Grammy Award-winning songs and are BMI songwriters award honorees. In addition to their musical successes, Gamble & Huff have led the charge on various charitable efforts. Mr. Gamble has been dedicated to humanitarian efforts as an ardent supporter of and contributor to the T.J. Martell Leukemia Foundation and the AMC Cancer Research Center and Hospital, which honored him with the Humanitarian Award in 1980. He also has been highly committed to the renovation and restoration of South Philadelphia.

The bulk of the gala’s featured performances saluted the monumental Gamble & Huff catalogue, with a jukebox full of live contributions from The Soul Survivors, who recorded the duo’s first major hit as writers and producers, “Express Way to Your Heart”; Ledisi, the R&B singer who has frequently been invited to perform at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama; The Three Degrees, whose Gamble & Huff hits were led by “When Will I See You Again,” and also marked by vocals on the iconic Soul Train theme, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia”); Kathy Sledge, original lead vocalist of Sister Sledge; and rising Philadelphia R&B singer-songwriter Carol Riddick.


Gamble & Huff have been writing music together for more than 50 years. Their collaborative chemistry has generated a series of massive hits numbering more than 3,500 songs, including 30 chart pop and R&B hit singles and 50 RIAA gold, platinum and multi-platinum certifications. Their catalog includes hits such as The Supremes’ “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” recorded by both Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and Thelma Houston, Jerry Butler’s “Only The Strong Survive,”which was later recorded by Elvis Presley, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” earned the songwriting duo its first Grammy® for Simply Red’s rendition, the O’Jay’s “For The Love Of Money,” and countless others, including “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” and the theme song for Soul Train, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” just to name few. The pair has won five Grammy’s® for their songwriting and collected 86 BMI Pop and R&B Awards. Gamble and Huff founded Philadelphia International Records (PIR) as the outlet for their creative vision in 1971. By 1973, PIR was second only to Motown as the largest African-American owned company in America and became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the Philly Soul sound, a unique blend of R&B rhythms, sweet soul vocals, deep funk grooves, pulsing horn charts and lush string arrangements with melodic structures combining elements of pop, jazz and world music.


The Marian Anderson Award was created in 1998 to celebrate critically acclaimed artists – individuals who have used their talents for personal artistic expression and whose body of work has contributed to our society in a singular manner. It is named in memory of the legendary singer and distinguished Philadelphian, Marian Anderson. Previous honorees include Harry Belafonte, Gregory Peck, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Sidney Poitier, Richard Gere, Maya Angelou and Norman Lear, Mia Farrow, James Earl Jones, Berry Gordy, Jon Bon Jovi and Wynton Marsalis.

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