Earth, Wind & Lots of Fire
Over the years only a handful of very special artists, ranging from The Beatles to Dylan to Carole King to Sinatra, have been paid tribute to via an album from top notch musicians. I’m thrilled to announce that on March 27, Earth, Wind & Fire will join the ranks of that esteemed group of musicians. The ten-track set is made up of a select group of R&B singers that include Chaka Khan, Angie Stone, Lalah Hathway and MeShell Ndegeocello. Their carefully chosen Earth, Wind & Fire songs and their “interpretations” of this timeless music is so inspiring, the only feeling I was left with was that it wasn’t enough. After all, Earth, Wind & Fire released their first album 36 years ago, and throughout the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s have continued to rack up platinum album after multi-platinum album. Their unique blend of soul, R&B, funk, jazz and pop has had a crossover appeal to millions of fans that include the vocalists and musicians who appear on this new collection.
The large ensemble of musicians, which has shuffled between eight to ten musicians over the years, was founded in 1969 in Los Angeles by lead vocalist and percussionist Maurice White. In 1971, Earth, Wind & Fire was signed to the Warner Record Label and released their self-titled debut album, following it up eight months later with The Need Of Love. As fast as they received their record deal, the group developed a following of loyal diehards that pushed the second album to the top half of the Billboard Pop Album chart. Columbia (the highest ranking label in the business) realized the potential of this group and took hold of them with a multi-album contract that White and company couldn’t refuse. Within one year, Earth, Wind & Fire delivered their first album to earn platinum status, and they were well on their way to superstardom. To say that their 1975 album, That’s The Way Of The World, was a masterpiece and their ticket to fame would almost be an understatement. With this 1975 release, the group broke down barriers of white and black consumers and in turn simultaneously delivered their first #1 album and single, “Shining Star.” The album went through the roof, delivering the title cut as the second single and classic tracks such as “Yearnin’, Learnin’,” the soul staple “All About Love” and the legendary “Reasons,” which was never officially released as a single but remains one of the most popular tracks recorded by this franchise.
The single “Shining Star” was the first Grammy awarded for Best R&B Vocal by a Group, and Earth, Wind & Fire was well on their way to becoming one of the most important groups in the industry and the world. Between 1971 and 2006, they released two dozen albums that carry the weight of eight Grammy’s, four American Music Awards (Favorite Soul/R&B Group), a BET Lifetime Achievement Award, and countless other accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 1995, and in 2000 they received the highest honors from their peers and the industry by being inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
On the sales end of it, they have accumulated fourteen Gold Albums, nine Platinum Albums, six Multi-Platinum Albums and seven Gold Singles. They have conquered the Billboard charts with nine #1 Singles, twenty-seven Top Ten Singles, five #1 Disco/Dance Singles (with an additional eight Top Ten Disco/Dance Singles), eight #1 Albums and fourteen Top Ten Albums, all the while conquering Pop, R&B, Dance and the Hip Hop Charts. To say that a tribute album was apropos is quite an understatement.
You’ve all heard their music and their infectious melodies. Now it’s time to pay tribute to this phenomenal group with an album of exceptional “interpretations.”
See CD Reviews for “Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire."
This article first appeared in the BottomLine Magazine in Palm Springs, CA.
© 2007 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.