June 29th, 2006 was a night of nights, as the Foundation’s Pioneer Awards returned! The 2006 Awards program was held in the Foundation’s new hometown, Philadelphia, at Philly’s legendary Bellevue-Stratford hotel, now known as the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue.
In case you missed it, The Foundation was pleased to honor:
Berry Gordy, Lifetime Achievement Award
One of the single most influential personalities in establishing “The Motown Sound” as a vital component of American popular music. In 1959, Berry created the recording studio “Hitsville”. Through those doors began a constant stream of hits released under the Motown label. Gordy, already a successful song writer at the age of 30, was instrumental in launching The Supremes, along with many others including Smoky Robinson, Little Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Temptations. Berry Gordy has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, honored by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Gordy continues to make “hits” with his philanthropic endeavors and commitment to deserving students.
Otis Redding, Legacy Award
One of the most influential soul singers of the 1960’s, Redding exemplified to many listeners the power of “Southern soul”. He was one of the artists who defined the Stax sound, just before his untimely death he began to break through to a wider pop audience. His #1 single “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay”, and “Tramp,” along with memorable others; “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” “Satisfaction”, and “Respect.” Otis Redding’s will be remembered for his everlasting contribution to Rhythm and Blues.
Thom Bell, Songwriter, Sideman, Entrepreneur Award
Thom Bell was among the principal architects of the lush and seductive Philly soul sound, one of the most popular and influential music developments of the 1970’s. Born in Philadelphia, he studied classical piano and then joined Kenny Gamble’s harmony group in 1959, he also worked with his hometown hero Chubby Checker. Bell became a producer with the Philly Groove label in 1968, writing classic soul hits for the DelFonics, “La La Mean I Love You”, and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time”. Bell’s work with the Delfonics became immediately recognizable for its exquisite sweetness. Thom reunited with Gamble & Huff to create the Philly sound with smash releases like Jerry Butler’s “ Only The Strong Survive”, Billy Paul’s 1972 hit “Me and Mrs. Jones” and Harold Melvin & the Blue Note’s classic “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” .
Chubby Checker, Individual Award Recipient
The unrivaled king of the rock & roll dance craze, his most famous hit “The Twist” remains the yardstick against which all subsequent dancefloor phenomena are measured. Born in Philadelphia, he won a local audition with the Cameo-Parkway label, who signed him in 1959. Chubby Checker had a series of #1 hits throughout his career; “The Class”, “The Twist”, “The Fly “and “Let’s Twist Again”. He currently tours with oldies revival tours.
Bettye LaVette, Individual Award
A perennial cult favorite in northern soul circles, singer Bettye LaVette cut her first sides at 16 years of age. After signing with Atlantic records, she scored an R&B; top ten hit out of the box with her debut single “My Man- He’s A Loving Man” another Atlantic release “You’ll Never Change” . After a stint with the Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford Review, she recorded the long-unreleased “One Thin Dime”. Later Bettye would join the touring company of the Broadway musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar” and focused primarily on live appearances in the years to follow.
Barbara Mason, Individual Award
Mason entered the music business in her teen years as a performer, in which she had a huge hit in 1965 with her self penned “Yes I’m Ready” a fetching soul-pop confection that spotlighted her girlish vocals. Another example of what came to be called the Philly soul sound. In the mid-70’s Barbara toughened her persona and reentered the music scene with frank lyrics about infidelity with songs like, “Bed & Board” and “Shackin Up” that restored her career. Curtis Mayfield produced her on a cover of Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love” which brought her back into to the pop charts in 1973.
The DelFonics, Performance Group Award
A vocal trio made up of brothers William and Wilbert Hart along with high school friend Randy Cain. The DelFonics were one of the first groups to sing the sleek, soulful style that became known as the Philly soul sound. This sound that Bell created for the DelFonics was the antithesis of the soul sound of the day, Thom Bell lightened up the grit and brought in the strings to create a smooth, airy sound that gave life to DelFonics hits like “La La Means I Love You” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time”.
Frankie Beverly, Performance Group Award
Frankie who was fascinated with Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers in his young years adopted the name for himself and began a career of playing with and forming bands. He began the group Raw Soul with fellow Philadelphians Roame Lowry, McKinley Williams and Sam Porter. After recording a few singles in California, Raw Soul got their big break when they got picked to back Marvin Gaye on his tour. Marvin allowed them to open the show with some original numbers. After years of trying, Beverly began to get the recognition he had worked hard for, incorporating the best elements from previous groups, Maze, became, and continues to be, a quiet storm and an urban contemporary favorite.
The Foundation again salutes all of this years’ honorees, and thanks all of the sponsors and individuals whose generosity and spirit helped to make the 2006 Pioneer Awards a remarkable event for all.