Forty years after releasing the Family Reunion album on the iconic Philadelphia International Records, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The O’Jays were a primary catalyst behind a family reunion of their former label mates June 5 at the 12th Annual Phillies African-American Heritage Celebration, hosted by fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and “Sound of Philadelphia” architects Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff at Citizens Bank Park in honor of Black Music Month.
Gamble & Huff presented The O’Jays and R&B and jazz legend Jean Carne with the Phillies Gamble & Huff Community Partnership Award and were joined in the celebration by fellow PIR greats Billy Paul (“Me & Mrs. Jones”), producer DexterWansel, and pop-R&B songwriter Bunny Sigler, who sang the National Anthem. Ms. Carne performed her PIR hit single, “Don’t Let It Go to Your Head.”
With Gamble & Huff, The O’Jays emerged at the forefront of Philadelphia soul with “Back Stabbers” (1972), and topped theBillboard Hot 100 the following year with “Love Train”. Numerous other hits followed for PIR, topped by “For the Love of Money,” “I Love Music,” and “Use Ta Be My Girl.” The O’Jays were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the Philly Soul sound aka “The Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP),” 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. With a stable core of artists led by The O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, MFSB and the Three Degrees,Gamble & Huff co-founded Philadelphia International Records and began creating monster hits from nearly the first day of its inception in 1971. They continued to record, collaborate and produce major hits with a galaxy of stars from the pop, rock, soul and jazz universes, including Michael Jacksonand the Jacksons, Elton John, Lou Rawls, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, the Spinners, theStylistics, the Delfonics, Dusty Springfield, Jerry Butler, Wilson Pickett, LaBelle, Archie Bell & the Drells, the Soul Survivors, Laura Nyro, the Trammps, McFadden & Whitehead, Phyllis Hyman, the Dells and many more.
Gamble & Huff created and are credited for launching one of the most celebrated and historic songwriting partnerships that spawned into a sophisticated sound lovingly crafted in the studio by some of the 20th century’s most influential producers and studio teams — including Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, Bunny Sigler, DexterWansel, Bobby Martin, MFSB Orchestra, Baker, Harris and Young, Joe Tarsia (Sigma Sound) and others – Philly Soul set the stage for disco, smooth jazz, adult contemporary music and more.
Gamble & Huff began celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year. The celebration will continue in 2016 with the projected release of their Autobiographical Book and the launch of their Theatrical Play on their historic Life Story and creation of one of America’s great music catalogues, known as “The Sound of Philadelphia.”
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