“Motown Philly” by Butch Ford

Motown Records

 

“Motown Philly” by Butch Ford

The 1960s introduced us to a brand new sound.  It originated in a tiny little home on the westside of Detroit called “Hitsville”  The founder and visionary Berry Gordy recruited every talented musician, singer, and songwriter in the area to put his dream in motion.  He wanted to make “music for the people.”

The result was a musical revolution dubbed “The Motown Sound.”  Happy music with the ability to bring people together peacefully and harmoniously.    We fell in love with The Temptations, The Tops, Marvin, Stevie, The Supremes, Smokey, Gladys, The Jackson 5 and so many others.  The backbone was a group of relatively unknown musicians named The Funk Brothers (google them) who brought Gordy’s vision to life.  Songwriters such as William Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, and countless others combined to form this dream team that changed American History forever.

In 1971, Philadelphia International Records was launched.  It was the brainchild of the legendary songwriting/production team of Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff with their long-time friend and collaborator Thom Bell.  The goal was to tap into the endless supply of talent in and around the city of Philadelphia.  Hence…”Philly Soul” was born.

The sound was built upon beautifully orchestrated string arrangements combined with driving bass and percussion.  Not to mention strong soulful vocals and intricate harmonies.  From this…Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, and The Jacksons (who defected from Motown) made their mark in Soul/R&B History.

There’s still a friendly debate that exists today.  You might hear some old cats arguing about which Record Company or era produced the greatest music.  It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.

New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe member and co-founder Michael Bivins were onto something when he coined the phrase “Motown Philly” back in the early ’90s while developing Boyz II Men.  He understood the influence of both companies and the impact they had on the history of Black Music.  Personally…you can’t go wrong with either.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the contributions of Staxx and Chess Records.  They both played a huge part in the fabric of soul music as we know it today, as well.

Butch Ford

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Fine-Tune Your Goals by Chellyz View

 

soundboard

It’s Time to Fine-Tune Your Goals by Chellyz View

The Need to Fine-Tune Your Goals

Once we get back into the groove of things, what will be the outcome of your business, organization, or life-long goals? For some, it will feel smooth as jazz or flow like the beats of Neo-Soul. Others may feel a little shaky like rock and roll, while some individuals may resemble the tranquility from the vibrations of an orchestra playing classical music. You may be wondering what and who inspired me to write this post. For one, the Trolls World Tour Movie released in April 2020, which I truly enjoyed.  Also, most definitely none other than my brother Mr. Butch Ford, who is gifted in analyzing any R & B classic or throwback song without thinking twice about it!  Yep, many relatable songs blasted through my mind while typing this post!!!!!

Anywho, I need you to stay in tune with keeping your business, entrepreneurial, and/or personal goals sharp in today’s ever-changing economy.  If you fail to frequently fine-tune your purpose you will feel like a losing contestant on Shazam who didn’t make it in time to recall the lyrics or title to their favorite song!

Now, let’s “Back it up!” As business owners, entrepreneurs, someone longing to build a stable organization or complete pertinent goals we just got to “Wobble” with it these days. There are many times we are taking small steps so we can stand tall, secure, and confident in what we do while going through this Pandemic. At times we “just keep on Fallin’ in and out of love” with the woes and accomplishment of being an entrepreneur or goal-setter. Finding our niche in life or a target market can be pleasing like music to the ears, but for others, it might sound like a whole lot of noise. Either way, if you have found your purpose, then it’s even more important to take notes and stick with a plan. In this post, I would like to briefly offer a little encouragement! I am appreciative of those who continue to motivate me and for the Holy Spirit who watches over me because I can hear Marvin Sapp singing, “I Never Would Have Made It Without You.”

Why Don’t They Support Me?   

I was aggravated with myself and having a rant, saying “Wah, Wah, Wah!” like a Lil Baby! Of course, I snapped out of it and stopped all the crying! I had to reassure myself to get over it and those who didn’t show support. I asked myself a few questions.  “Why am I  putting so much effort into my entrepreneurial and personal goals?” “Who am I trying to serve?”  “Am I trying to serve self?” “Is my purpose to serve others?” Finally, “What really matters?” All these questions had me dizzy.  I told myself, “You got me going in circles (oh round and round I go).”  I had to hit the pause button.  As entrepreneurs, the products and services we offer must meet the needs of the consumer in mind. As individuals achieving life long goals we must remember to move forward with determination to complete the task even when we may feel all alone.

Over the years, successful individuals presented me with two essential questions. (Thanks to those who always have me thinking.) First, a few people asked me what is the purpose of me pursuing my life-long goals? Secondly, I have been asked how will my purpose enhance the lives of others? Yes, those two questions allowed me to recall why I enjoy pushing and pursuing my entrepreneurial and personal goals. I realized that even though fulfilling my purpose may feel like walking through a maze there is someone searching for the gifts and talents that I had to offer. Please stay focused on the path of what you were meant to do and why it is necessary. Eventually, you will find your purpose as your purpose will also find you.

Worrying About Failure  

Whew, chile, let me share this tad bit of info!!!! My Momma, Auntie, and the people who reside with me know I have tried different ventures. Some have failed, or I didn’t have the tenacity to continue. Recently, I was all up in a frenzy as I contemplated to renew one of my LLC’s. After much prayer, meditation and contemplation, I decided to sing, “I’m saying Bye Bye” in that Aaron Hall from Guy tone voice. I didn’t have the fortitude to push or invest in this particular project any longer.

It was time for me to shift my concentration cause Big Daddy Kane was telling me, “Aint No Half-Steppin’.” I wasn’t giving up, but I had decided to concentrate on what truly gave me life. My creative energy was all over “thee” place.  I needed to downsize. I noticed I didn’t have enough time to invest in what indeed had meaning while living on this Earth.

Yep, there will be those moments when it may feel as if you have failed. Remember, you have never failed if you tried. You are going to win. Concentrate on what adds value to your life and the world. When you know what is important, tell yourself that you will, “Keep Rising to the Top and Give it all You Got!”

Give Time to the Right Projects that Makes You Sing Sweet Melodies 

You might ask yourself, “Well, how much time am I supposed to give myself?” As mentioned in the previous section, I decided to let go of a significant project I worked on for three years. Yes, there are times when we prematurely give up on a venture. However, there are instances when we have that gut feeling it is time to move on.  One of my dear sisters Lady Ton tells me when it is time to let go of a project or venture, “You Will Know.”

Closeout the chatter and get on the right keys so you can make sure it is the decision you want to make. Not because someone is pressuring you to give up. Currently, my soul is singing beautiful melodies about the projects I have been working on.  I have invested time and money for quite a few years on them. Guess what?  I don’t mind. I am giving these projects as much time as I need to. It is my purpose. I know it is making a difference in my life and will inspire others!

Yes, in these uncertain times, we may feel very uncertain. Recently, major corporations have filed bankruptcy or contemplated filing. We must accept, “It’s Like that and that’s the way it is.” But, no matter what occurs or how big or small our dreams are, we own them. Don’t feel disappointed when the outcome doesn’t unfold how you thought it would be. Please network with people who will encourage you. “Don’t Rush” the Process.

Pursue your dreams that are in your heart. It’s worth it. You might feel like what is going on and how should I fine-tune my goals. You may feel as if you are standing in an empty stadium and don’t have the support you need. Hey, “Just don’t give up it’s going to be…Alright.”  Once again, give yourself time to what is truly important to your current or future goals that will make your soul sing. When you feel like too much is going on blast a little Mary J (music that is) because you will be, “Just Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine Ohhhhh!!!!!  

-Let your heart be full of new ventures that will lead you to the possibilities of limitless conversations!

References

Alicia Keys. “Fallin’.” Songs in A Minor, J, 2001.

Big Daddy Kane.  “Ain’t No Half-Steppin’.”  Long Live the Kane, Cold Chillin, 1988.

Black Men United.  “You Will Know.”  Jason Lyric’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack,  Rap-A-Lot Records, 1994.

Drake & Lil Baby. “Yes Indeed.”  Harder Than Ever, 4 Pockets Full, Wolfpack, Quality Control, Motown, Capitol, 2018.

Guy.  “Goodbye Love.”  Guy-Special Edition, Uptown, MCA, Warner Bros., 1998.

Keni Burke. “Risin’ To the Top.” Changes, RCA, 1982.

Ledisi. “Alright.”  Alright, Verve Forecast, 2007.

Marvin Sapp. “Never Would Have Made It.” Thirsty, Verity Records, Zomba, 2007.

Mary J. Blige.  “Just Fine.”  Growing Pains, Geffen, 2007.

Run-D.M.C.  “It’s Like That.”  Run-D.M.C., Profile Records, 1983.

The Friends of Distinction.  “You’ve Got Me Going in Circles.” Grazin’, RCA Victor, 1969.

V.I.C. “Wooble.” Beast, Warner Bros., 2008.

Young T. & Bugsey.  “Don’t Rush.”  Don’t Rush, Black Butter Records, 2019.

R & B Church by Butch Ford

Frankie Beverly

R & B Church by Butch Ford

Does the name Howard Beverly ring a bell?  Probably not.  Well…he’s a multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer and producer from Philadelphia, PA.  He started do-wapping (harmonizing) on the tough streets with friends and composing songs in the early 60’s.

Beverly later changed his name to Frankie after his favorite singer Frankie Lymon, formed a band called Raw Soul, moved to California with the hopes of making it big.  After a few years of playing small bars around town, Marvin Gaye sat in on a set one evening.  He saw potential in the band.  He took them under his wing, talked the group into changing their name and the magic began.

The newly christened Maze led by Frankie Beverly started creating a buzz in the urban markets.  We soon fell in love with the silky, soulful voice and hits such as, “Happy Feelings”, “Joy & Pain” and “Before I Let Go.”  1993 was the last year Maze released a studio album, but they continue to sell out everything from dinner clubs to 20,000 seat arenas.

If you’ve never had the honor or distinct pleasure to experience a live Maze concert…please do yourself a favor?  Frankie comes on stage to thunderous applause and from the opening number, the audience is on their feet.  Eyes are closed, arms are swaying left to right in unison and if you’re completely quiet and still for a few seconds it sounds like a mass choir.  The feeling is overwhelming.  It’s hard to put into words.  I refer to it as R&B Church.  It’s simply beautiful.

 

Butch Ford

 

Soulless Music by Butch Ford

listen to music.jpg

Soulless Music by Butch Ford

In the early 90’s, approximately 1993, the public school system began shaving numerous programs as a part of massive budget cuts Nationwide.  The biggest impact arguably was the loss of music education in our schools.  The cuts didn’t immediately affect the music industry, but it began to rear its ugly head about a decade or so ago.

In years long since passed, music had meaning, feeling and substance.  Every artist had the freedom to create as he or she saw fit.  And it was reflected in their productions.  There were raw, unadulterated emotions embedded deep within the music.  Joy, pain, sadness, elation and rage could all be felt through the gift of song.  Strong horn sections, string arrangements and later synthesizers enhanced the distinct identity of each artist and what they shared with the world.

Now let’s fast forward some two and a half decades.  Today’s music is very impersonal and lacks substance and creative arrangements.  The subject matter is often disrespectful with very little depth.  And full compositions have made way to simple and repetitive beats programmed by unaccomplished musicians.

Program Directors at radio and television stations rely heavily on “oldies but goodies” to carry daily playlists and product endorsements due to the absence of quality new music.  Great music is still being composed and produced by incredible talent.  However, “the powers that be” are targeting a different demographic.  That would be the millennials. Those who were directly affected by the Music Education cuts in the 90’s and beyond.

Mainstream music, national award shows, and product advertisements are painful to watch/listen to.  And it’s mainly due to what’s being pawned as music today.  What did the masses think the results of the music cuts were going to be?  It’s plain to see.  Music with no soul.

 

Butch Ford

“Purplesploitation” by Butch Ford

 

Prince

“Purplesploitation” by Butch Ford

In the 1970’s there was a term called Blaxploitation.  It described an ethnic subgenre of exploitation films made by, of and for African Americans.  But that’s a story for another day and time.  Today, I want to discuss the term “Purplesploitation.”  A term I created just this morning while trying to figure out a way to express my feelings regarding the handling of the legacy of the icon known as Prince.  The heirs of the Prince Estate (his family) have been in constant litigation since his untimely passing in April of 2016.

Prince Rogers Nelson released over 40 albums in his prolific musical career, which spanned well over four decades.  There’s also reports of an alleged vault which contains another several hundred unreleased songs, various concert tour recordings, and band rehearsals.

Prince, a child prodigy, turned musical genius from Minnesota…reportedly filmed everything during his illustrious 40-year career.  He was considered passionate, driven, and a focused workaholic who worked tirelessly to perfect his craft.  He was also very private, keeping unreleased music and the aforementioned recordings under strict lock and key.

Since passing, his estate has profited from the sale of his previously unreleased material, as well as other gems taken from “the vault”.  As a lifelong fan, I’m a bit torn by the recent events.  Although I’ve enjoyed hearing music that I would have never heard otherwise, I do believe it was his wishes to keep the contents of the vault locked away.

There’s no judgement on my part.  I’m not questioning anyone’s motives.  I’m just curious to know, what Prince would have wanted?  By no means am I suggesting that this is exclusively for monetary gain.  Nor am I implying that it’s a form of exploitation.  It could just merely be a case of his family sharing hidden treasures with the world.  But I’d still love to know his feelings regarding these actions.  We’ll probably never know the truth.

On the bright side…be sure to check out “Piano & A Microphone (Live in 1983)”, “Purple Rain (Deluxe Edition)”, “Originals” and the forthcoming “1999 (Deluxe Edition).  ALL PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED ALBUMS.  They’re well worth the time and energy.  Enjoy…

 

 

Butch Ford

A Musical Journey by Butch Ford

Record Store

 

A Musical Journey by Butch Ford

Let’s have a little fun with today’s topic.  So, join me on a musical journey that spans the better part of three decades.

I touched down in the dead of winter during the fourth quarter of the 1960’s in Detroit, Michigan…post-riot.  Aretha was already “The Queen” around these parts.  The Motown Sound was at its pinnacle. The shiny suits, elegant sequined dresses and meticulous choreography made famous by the Temps, Tops, Supremes & Marvelettes were slowly making way for the more social and politically charged content of “Hitsville” heavyweights Marvin and Stevie.  Black Power was the epicenter.  I have fond memories of my grandparents telling me about the unity and pride displayed by our people during this era as the decade was ending.   Profound!!!

In addition to Black Power, the sound of the early 70’s was about finding and losing love.  There was a mesh of Blue-Eyed Soul combined with down home Rhythm & Blues.  The playlist of AM radio stations enveloped this vast collection of songs.  I don’t recall “all black” radio coming into existence for several more years. You’d hear The Bee Gees, Doobie Brothers & The Average White Band, and a super talented, soulful Caucasian duo out of Philly, played in succession along with Isaac Hayes, Barry White, and those five talented brothers from Gary, Indiana with the dynamic young lead singer.  The daughter of the great Nat King Cole had also made her grand appearance in the spotlight.  Musical Genius Curtis Mayfield had lent his talents to Hollywood for several projects in black cinema Powerhouse groups such as:  The Stylistics, Chi-Lites, Spinners and Dells dazzled audiences far and wide with their quality distinct vocal abilities.

The mid to late 70’s boasted extreme sex appeal, while introducing the masses to The P-Funk and a totally new sound called Disco.  We were captivated by the spirituality of Earth Wind & Fire, intrigued by the tight “pocket” of Chic and utterly blown away by the sounds of Cameo, The Brothers Johnson, Bootsy Collins & Parliament Funkadelic…just to name a few.  Peabo & Teddy P. revolutionized a whole different type of party with the red lights in the basement. Right ladies???  While Gladys & The Pips, The Isleys, Whispers, O’Jays, Commodores and LTD were in heavy rotation in my household. Especially on Saturday mornings during my family’s scheduled housecleaning.

Just down the road, in Ohio there was a Funk Revolution happening with the likes of Zapp, Slave, Lakeside, The Dazz Band and some Players named after the state in which they all originated. While on the local scene The Dramatics, Enchantment, The Jones Girls, Michael Henderson, Chapter 8 and the Floaters were all creating a buzz around town.  And I’d be remised if I failed to mention the diminutive blond from California with the big powerful voice…who everyone thought was black, and her musical mentor out of Buffalo, N.Y. who was more aptly known to tie masses as “Slick” Rick James.

The 80’s saw Michael J. moonwalk his way to the top of the charts, witnessed The Purple Army (featuring The Time, The Revolution, Andre Simone, Vanity 6, Sheila E., Jesse Johnson & Alexander O’Neal) led by “His Purple Badness”  Prince, as he changed the game musically with his infectious Minneapolis Sound. And the incomparable Mr. Vandross crooned his way into our hearts…proving love is eternal.

There was a brief British invasion mid-decade that showcased a plethora of talented acts across “the pond.”  And this was followed by a whirlwind phenomenon that nobody saw coming (but we’ll get to that momentarily). Michael’s baby sister and Whitney were about to embark on historical record setting crossover careers.  Legends like Chaka Khan, Frankie B, Ms. Patti, Sade and Uncle Charlie and his band from Oklahoma were in full stride.  Stephanie, Evelyn and Anita were sangin their butts off as well and were no slouches when it came to great music.  The R&B genre was thriving and in great hands.

Oh…but something epic, something ground-breaking was brewing in New York. There was a new form of musical expression know as Rap.  Rappers or MC’s would rhyme and wordplay in a poetic, rhythmic cadence over dope beats.  Early incarnations were simply designed to rock the party.  Kurtis Blow, The Sugarhill Gang, Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five feat. Melle Mel & Run-DMC were the early pioneers of this new Hip-Hop Movement.

Subsequently, the sound of R&B changed drastically, due to rap music becoming more mainstream. Production teams like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and LA Reid & Babyface, along with New Jack Swing creator and innovator Teddy Riley manufactured hits at a prolific pace, rounding out the 80’s, while fusing these two genres.  It was a match made in heaven. New Edition, Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure, Guy, Karyn White, Cherrelle and After 7 were all beneficiaries of this new sound.

The early 90’s brought about a renaissance of the singing group.  Boyz II Men, Jodeci, The Tony’s, TLC, EnVogue, SWV, BBD, Troop, and Hi-Five led the way.  While later in the decade Jagged Edge, 112, Destiny’s Child, 702, and Blackstreet made their marks, respectively.  Hit making juggernauts R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige and Gerald Levert were superstars in the making who laid the musical blueprint for years to come.

There were several other artists too numerous to mention.  It just wasn’t possible to list everyone.  I meant no disrespect by omitting anyone.  I simply wanted to spotlight those who were significant in the near 40-year soundtrack of my life.  The “Godfather” James Brown had a huge stamp on all of this.  He was just a little bit before my time…and I didn’t have the accounts or recollection of him personally to share his accomplishments.  But he’s still quite influential in Hip Hop and R&B music today.

In conclusion…artists such as Bobby Womack, Switch (The Debarge Family), Angela Winbush, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, Aaliyah and The Body Sisters (out of Detroit) were impactful throughout “My Musical Journey” and had to be mentioned. It’s been an incredible ride and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store musically and culturally.

Thanks for Riding Along,

 

Butch Ford