EARTH WIND & FIRE   2 comments


Earth, Wind & Fire is an American R&B musical group founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1971 by Maurice White. Also known as EWF, the band has won six Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and have sold over 90 million albums worldwide.[1][2][3][4] Rolling Stone magazine has described them as “innovative, precise yet sensual, calculated yet galvanizing” and has also declared that the band “changed the sound of black pop”.[5] In 1998, they were ranked at number 60 on VH1‘s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock N’ Roll.[6]

The band’s music contains elements of African, Latin American, funk, soul music, pop and rock music, jazz and other genres. The band is known for the dynamic sound of their horn section, and the interplay between the contrasting vocals of Philip Bailey‘s falsetto and Maurice White’s tenor.[7] The kalimba (African thumb piano) is played on all of the band’s albums.[8]

  History

  Beginnings

In 1962, Maurice White, a former session drummer for Chess Records and former member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, joined two friends in Chicago, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team composing songs and commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol, and called themselves the “Salty Peppers,” and had a marginal hit in the Midwestern area called “La La Time”.[9]

The Salty Peppers’ second single, “Uh Huh Yeah,” did not fare as well, and Maurice moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. He then added to the band singer Sherry Scott[10] and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel both from Chicago, and then asked his younger brother Verdine how he would feel about heading out to the west coast. On June 6, 1970, Verdine left Chicago to join the band as their new bassist. Maurice began shopping demo tapes of the band, featuring Donny Hathaway, around to different record labels and the band was thus signed to Warner Bros. Records.[9][11]

  Formation and early years (1971–1973)

Maurice’s astrological sign, Sagittarius, has a primary elemental quality of Fire and seasonal qualities of Earth and Air q.v. (Sagittarius in the northern hemisphere occurs in the fall, whose element is earth, and in the southern hemisphere, it is spring, whose element is air. Hence the omission of Water, the fourth classical element). Based on this, he changed the band’s name, to “Earth, Wind & Fire”. Maurice (mbira) held further auditions in L.A. adding Michael Beale on guitar, Chester Washington on reeds, and Leslie Drayton on trumpet who also served as the group’s musical arranger. Trombonist Alex Thomas, and electric pianist/vocalist Wade Flemons completed the then ten-man EWF lineup.[7][12]

The band’s self-titled debut album, Earth, Wind, Fire, was released in February 1971 to critical acclaim, as was November 1971’s The Need of Love. Both albums were produced by Joe Wissert and a single, from The Need of Love called I Think About Lovin’ You’ with Sherry Scott on lead vocals provided EWF with their first Top 40 R&B hit. In 1971, the group also recorded the soundtrack of the Melvin Van Peebles film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,.[7]

The soundtrack was recorded at the Paramount Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard and released on Stax records. The band also developed a growing popularity on college campuses but in spite of this some members of EWF started to become restless and the band broke up after having been together for less than six months. With only Verdine left, Maurice decided to re-form the group.

In 1972, Maurice added vocalist Jessica Cleaves, a former member of the R&B group The Friends of Distinction, Ronnie Laws on the flute and the saxophone, rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, percussionist Ralph Johnson and vocalist and Denver native Philip Bailey to the group. Warner Brothers didn’t know how to promote this new combo as the only other funk band on their label was Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.[7]

The band successfully auditioned for managers Bob Cavallo and Joe Ruffalo and Cavallo’s management of John Sebastian led to a series of gigs as the opening act for the pop/folk singer and The Lovin’ Spoonful founder. A performance at New York’s Rockefeller Center introduced EWF to Clive Davis, who was then the President of Columbia Records. Davis was very impressed with the band’s performance and bought their contract from Warner Bros. Their debut album on CBS/Columbia Records Last Days and Time featured mostly original material, but Bailey had recommended that the band cover the Pete Seeger song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?“, and the elements also remade the Bread hit “Make It with You“.[11][12]

  Classic period (1973–1980)

Portrayed on the cover of the album, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 is Earth, Wind & Fire’s official symbol.

The album Head to the Sky was released in the spring of 1973. Head to the Sky gave the group their first two legitimate hit singles, Evil, which was co-written by Maurice and Philip, and “Keep Your Head to the Sky“, both of which reached the top 30 and the top 60 on the R&B and pop charts respectively. After the release of this album some personnel changes took place as Ronnie Laws, Roland Bautista and Jessica Cleaves left the band to pursue new musical opportunities and the album was also their last to be produced by Joe Wissert. Philip Bailey had recommended his former Denver East High School classmate, saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk to the band. Woolfolk had been busy in New York studying sax with sax maestro Joe Henderson and was about to start a career in banking when Bailey called. To fill the void created by Batistuta’s departure, rhythm guitarists Al McKay, who had performed with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band and Johnny Graham from R&B group New Birth were added to round out the new lineup.[13] As some of the band’s songs required lower vocals than that of Bailey’s, and due to the success of “Evil”, Maurice altered his role in the group to incorporate the role of lead vocalist.

Recorded at Colorado‘s Caribou Ranch Studio and released in 1974 the studio album Open Our Eyes was a commercially successful LP, selling over a millon copies in the US and thus being certified Platinum. Open Our Eyes was co-produced by Producer and songwriter Charles Stepney with White at Maurice’s request. Stepney had previously worked with The Dells, The Rotary Connection, Terry Callier, Minnie Riperton and the Ramsey Lewis Trio to name a few.[2] Released in May 1974, the single “Mighty Mighty” became Earth, Wind & Fire’s first top 30 hit on the pop charts, peaking at No.29. Another single, “Devotion”, was a song with a strong spiritual message. This album also saw the inclusion of Maurice’s younger brother, Fred White, into the band. Fred had played in Chicago clubs as a drummer with Donny Hathaway and Little Feat.[7]

On April 6, 1974, Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the California Jam, which was a West Coast rock festival that attracted an audience of 200,000.[14] Also in 1974, the band collaborated with Ramsey Lewis on his album Sun Goddess, which reached number one on the Billboard Jazz and Black Album charts and has been certified Gold in the U.S by the RIAA.

In 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire was approached by Sig Shore, the producer of the motion picture Super Fly, to record a soundtrack to new film about the dark side of the recording industry that was called That’s The Way Of The World which also starred EWF as a new recording act known as “The Group” and they performed songs in the film and Maurice had a small speaking part, as leader of “The Group”. In the film Harvey Keitel‘s character hears “The Group” performing, and produces their first album. The film’s title is repeated throughout the film as a shrug of the shoulders to the music world.[7]

When the band saw the film, they were convinced that the motion picture would be a bomb which it eventually was.[12] To avoid being connected to the movie they released the album’s soundtrack which was also titled That’s the Way of the Worldbefore its premiere. Recorded at the Caribou Ranch Studio That’s the Way of the World and co-produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney That’s the Way of the World Earth, Wind & Fire’s breakthrough album spending three weeks at number one the Billboard Pop Albums Charts, five nonconsecutive weeks atop the Soul Albums chart.[15]That’s the Way of the World was also warmly received critically with Allmusic‘s Alex Henderson for instance describing the album as “one of the strongest albums of the 70’s” and “EWF’s crowning achievement” and Billboard Magazine as well calling it “a very tightly produced and performed package”. The album made EWF the first black act to top both the Billboard album and singles charts and was certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA.[7]

Included upon the album were the hit singles “Shining Star” which rose to number one on the R&B Singles and Billboard Hot 100 and won the band a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and “That’s the Way of the World” which went to number five and number 12 on the R&B Singles and Billboard Hot 100 respectively. Because of the tremendous commercial success of “That’s The Way Of The World”, the band was able to hire a full horn section which was dubbed the Phenix Horns. The Phenix Horns, of whom became an integral part of the band’s sound were composed of saxophonist Don Myrick, trombonist Louis Satterfield and trumpeters Rahmlee Davis and Michael Harris. Myrick and Satterfield both worked with Maurice during his days as a session drummer at Chess Records.

Subsequent to their first tour of Europe where they opened for the rock band Santana, Columbia Records wanted another album released as soon as possible. As a result EWF returned to the studio in June 1975 and from these recording sessions two singles “Sing a Song” and “Can’t Hide Love“, the latter written by Clarence “Skip” Scarborough were spawned.[11] These and other studio recordings were included along with mostly live concert material from their 1974 and 1975 tours upon the double album Gratitude which was released in late 1975. Gratitude rose to and stayed at number one on the pop and R&B charts for three weeks and six weeks respectively, was also the 2nd bestselling R&B album of 1976 and is certified triple platinum for sales of over 3,000,000 copies in the US by the RIAA.[16][17]

The band was Grammy nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group or Chorus for the title track, Gratitude and “Can’t Hide Love” was also Grammy nominated for Best Arrangement For Voices. Earth, Wind & Fire also also won a Rock Music Award in the category of Best Soul Album for Gratitude and Down Beat magazine’s Readers Poll for favorite Rock/Blues Group in 1975.[18][19]

In addition in 1975 Maurice esttablished a production company entitled Kalimba Productions and upon the company he signed artists such as his former bandleader Ramsey Lewis, singer Deniece Williams who was a former member of Stevie Wonder‘s Wonderlove backup group, and the girl group, The Emotions, who had a run of hits with Stax Records from 1969 to 1974. Maurice loaned the band’s signature Phenix Horns and most of the other band members and put on tour with Earth, Wind & Fire these artists and others that were signed to Kalimba Productions.

After he helped co-produce and arrange Earth, Wind & Fire’s new album, Deniece Williams’s debut album, This Is Niecy, and The Emotion’s first Columbia Records album Flowers, Charles Stepney died of a heart attack on May 17 1976 in Chicago at the age of 43. He was survived by his wife Rubie, his three daughters, Eibur, Charlene and Chante, his parents and his brother.[20] With Stepney’s passing Maurice took over and completed the production of the band’s new album, called Spirit, which was released October 1976. EWF paid tribute to Stepney in the form of the album and it’s title track. The album reached number 2 on the Billboard Pop and R&B Albums Chart and has been certified double platinum in the US by the RIAA and spawned from Spirit were the hit singles “Getaway” and “Saturday Nite.[21][22][23][7][24]

During this period EWF concerts started to become loaded with pyrotechnics, magic, laser lights, flying pyramids, levitating guitarists and elaborate production tricks, that included the entire group ascending in a pyramid and a disappearing act, which saw EWF literally vanishing from sight. Magician Doug Henning directed many of their tours throughout the 1970s with his young assistant, David Copperfield. The band also began to choreographed by George Faison.[7][25]

In November 1977, the group released another studio LP, All ‘N All. With a Egyptian/post modernistic themed album cover, All ‘N All featured the hit singles “Serpentine Fire” and “Fantasy“, and achieved triple Platinum status. Starting with this album, the Japanese artist Shusei Nagaoka began doing the artwork and the illustrations for several of Earth, Wind & Fire’s album covers.[26]

In 1978, EWF picked up three Grammy Awards, the third for their version of The Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life“. The band performed the song which included on the self titled soundtrack of the movie, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. The film itself was a commercial bomb; however, “Got to Get You into My Life” was the biggest hit from the movie’s soundtrack, reaching numbers one and nine on the R&B and Pop singles charts, respectively.

1978 was also the year that Maurice and EWF’s managers Cavallo and Ruffalo worked out a deal for the launch of a new record label called The American Recording Company (ARC), to be distributed through CBS and the creation of a recording studio, George Massenburg/ARC also called “The Complex” in West Los Angeles as well. The year ended with the release of another hit single, titled “September“, which was added to the quintuple platinum compilation album, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, of which came out on November 23, 1978 just four days before Thanksgiving.At this time, Bobby Harris of the Dazz Band requested and got Philip Bailey to produce the group’s first album, Kinsman Dazz. Bailey had a major input into the group’s vocal arrangements and would also co-produce the band’s second album which was entitled Dazz.[27]

Janurary 1979 saw the band performing “September” and “That’s The Way Of The World” at the Music for UNICEF Concert, which was broadcasted worldwide from the United Nations General Assembly by NBC. Other artists performing at the event were ABBA, The Bee Gees, Olivia Newton John, Donna Summer and Rod Stewart. Subsequent to this performance the band donated the royalties from one of their songs to UNICEF and began a tour of Europe and Japan.[28]

The group’s ninth overall,seventh for Columbia Records and second album to released on the ARC label called I Am was another smash hit going double platinum and reaching numbers 3 and 1 on the R&B and Pop labels respectively. Singles spawned from this album included “In The Stone“, “Can’t Let Go” and the sad David Foster written ballad, “After the Love Has Gone“, which rose to the number 2 spot on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts and won a Grammy for the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group at the Grammy Awards of 1980. Though the band had previously overlooked disco, the summer of 1979 saw EWF topping the dance music charts with their most disco inspired single “Boogie Wonderland“, which was produced by Maurice and Al McKay, and featured The Emotions. Even with the song’s success, Verdine White claims that band is not a disco band, saying “I guess you could say we were at the party but didn’t get on the dance floor”.[29][30]

In October of 1980 the double-album Faces was released, of which rose to number 2 and number 10 and the R&B and Pop charts respectively and earned Gold status in the US. In a 2007 interview, when asked which EWF album is his favorite, Maurice White replied “Probably Faces because we were really in tune, playing together and it gave us the opportunity to explore new areas”.[31] After the release of this album, longtime rhythm guitarist Al McKay left the band to pursue for personal as well as professional reasons. He was replaced by returning rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista who gave the band a bit of a hard rock sound with his style of playing.

  Electronic period (1981–1990)

Maurice decided that given the changing musical landscape that the band needed to incorporate more of the digital sound of which was so popular at the time into their work. As a result infused with this new electronic sound EWF’s eleventh album entitled Raise! was released in the fall of 1981 and sold over a million copies in the US thus being certified platinum by the RIAA. Raise! featured the hit single “Let’s Groove” which also went platinum, and another single “Wanna Be With You” which won EWF a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group. Earth, Wind & Fire appeared at American Bandstand‘s 30th Anniversary Special where they performed Let’s Groove on October 30, 1981.[32]

Earth, Wind, and Fire’s Maurice White and Philip Bailey performing in 1982 at the Ahoy Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Two years after the release of Raise! camePowerlight which included the singles “Fall In Love With Me” a number 17 pop hit, and “Side By Side.” “Powerlight” went Gold. Also in 1983 the song “Dance, Dance, Dance” was contributed to the soundtrack of the animated film Rock & Rule. After the fully synthesized album Electric Universe was released in late 1983 to a poor critical and commercial reception Maurice believed that the band needed a break so he put EWF on hiatus.

During their hiatus, Philip Bailey released his second and most commercially successful solo project, the Gold album Chinese Wall which featured the Phenix Horns and was produced by Phil Collins. The first single from that album, a duet with Collins called “Easy Lover“, sold over a million copies, rose to number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart respectively and was Grammy nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo or Group. The music video of Bailey and Collins rehearsing their collaboration went to the top of MTV’s video playlist, won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Overall Performance in 1985. Bailey released four gospel albums in this period, and one of them titled Triumph, won him a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Vocal Performance, Male.

Maurice White during this time produced for Barbra Streisand on her Platinum album Emotion and worked with Neil Diamond on his Gold album Headed for the Future and Cher on her 1987 Platinum album Cher. He also released the solo album Maurice White in 1985, which included a cover of “Stand by Me“, which went to number six on the R&B charts and number eleven on the Adult Contemporary charts. The album also featured an appearance by saxophonist Gerald Albright. Also, during the hiatus, Verdine White worked behind the scenes, writing and directing videos. He produced the English pop rock and jazz-funk band Level 42‘s album Standing in the Light, with Larry Dunn, and promoted go-go bands like Trouble Funk and E.U.[7] The compilation album The Collection was released May 1986 and this album stayed at number 5 on the UK singles charts for two weeks and was certified Gold in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry.

Phil Collins saw EWF on one of their European tours and became a fan of the band. He came in contact with the Phenix Horns and they eventually worked with his band Genesis on songs like “No Reply At All” and “Paperlate“, and with him on his solo hits such as “I Missed Again” and “Sussudio“.

In 1987, CBS Records convinced both Philip Bailey and Maurice White that a reunion of Earth, Wind & Fire would be fruitful. As a result original members Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Andrew Woofolk returned to the band with new members guitarist/vocalist Sheldon Reynolds, lead guitarist Dick Smith, drummer Sonny Emory. A new horn section dubbed the Earth, Wind & Fire Horns was also created and this was made up of Gary Bias on the saxophone, Raymond Lee Brown on the trumpet and flugelhorn and trombonist Reggie Young.

The band’s refromation fostered the 1987 Gold album Touch the World, which was nominated for a Soul Train Award in the category of Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year and rose to number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number 33 on The Billboard 200.[33]Featured on the album was a song penned by an unknown songwriter by the name of Skylark called “System of Survival“. Released as a single the song became a hit going to number one on the Billboard R&B charts and Dance charts, and another single called “Thinking Of You” peaked at number one and number three on the R&B and Dance charts as well.In 1988 the band released the compilation album The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 2 which went Gold in the US.The group’s final album released by Columbia Records was 1990’s Heritage, which featured a collaboration with Sly Stone of Sly & the Family Stone. In 1992 the band released a 55 track anthology of their career up to that point entitled The Eternal Dance.

  Neo classic period (1993–present)

EWF then signed once again with Warner Brothers and from this came the release in 1993 of their 16th studio album entitled Millennium. Included on the album was the single “Sunday Morning” for which the band got a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and a track written by Prince called Super Hero. Tragedy unfortunately befell the band in 1993 as on July 30 former band member and Phenix Horns saxophonist Don Myrick was fatally shot by the Los Angeles Police Department in a case of mistaken identity. In addition on October 13 former lead vocalist Wade Flemons died from cancer in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1994, Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the NAACP Hall Of Fame.

Earth, Wind & Fire star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The band received another tribute in the following year in the form of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[34] All the original members of the group attended the inauguration ceremony and in his speech Maurice White attributed EWF’s success to the support of all of their fans. As well in 1995 Maurice White decided to retire from touring with the band. At the time he gave his reason for doing so to be that he wanted to take a rest from the rigors of the road. At this juncture Philip Bailey was given the role of onstage leader of the band.

The studio album In the Name of Love was released on Pyramid Records in 1997 to a favorable critical reception. EWF performed at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival and gave an encore performance the following year. In 2004 a DVD of their 1997 performance was released which is entitled Earth, Wind & Fire: Live At Montreux 1997. In 1999 the group performed on the A&E Network show Live by Request.[35] and in that same year Maurice announced that the real reason for him ending his days of touring in 1995 was because of him contracting Parkinson’s disease in the late 80’s of which made it increasingly difficult for him over the years to comfortable handle the rigors of touring. A website entitled http://www.Startalk.org was set up in 1999 to offer support to Maurice with his health struggles and upon it messages of encouragement from celebrities such as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine were published.[36] He however has the disease under control so much so that he occasionally makes appearances at Earth, Wind & Fire performances, and continues to write, record, produce and develop new recordings for Earth, Wind & Fire and other artists.

On the 6th March, 2000 Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to a standing ovation during the 15th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction dinner held at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. All of the band’s original members from the 1973 to 1980 “classic period” being Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Al McKay, Larry Dunn, Andrew Woofolk, Fred White and Johnny Graham attended the ceremony where the nine of them played together for the first time in 20 years, performing Shining Star and That’s The Way Of The World. After their induction into the Hall of Fame an effort was made by the original band members to fully reunite which eventually proved to be unfrutitful.[37][38]

At a White House state dinner hosted by President Bill Clinton held on the South Lawn of the White House in honor of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem on June 20, 2000, earth, Wind & Fire were the specially invited musical guests to the function.[34][39] So impressed was the King by the performance of the band that he made a successful personal request for EWF to perform in Morocco for his 37th birthday celebration, which took place on August 21, 2000.[40]

In 2001, a biographical documentary of the band entitled Shining Stars: The Official Story Of Earth, Wind & Fire,was released which was directed by Kathryn Arnold. Following the September 11 attacks of the same year, the band members donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross at a September 13 show at Virgina’s Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater which was the band’s first concert since those events took place.[41]February 24, 2002 saw Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah.[42]

A live album from the band’s 1980 performance in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil entitled Live In Rio was released on Maurice White’s own Kalimba Records label in 2002 and in that same year EWF was honored with the Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The award was presented to EWF by ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman, Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Jam.[43] In addition the band was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Hollywood’s RockWalk in 2003.[44]

The Promise which was the band’s first studio album in six years was released on Kalimba Records in 2003.[45][46] The Promise rose to number 19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. The Promise received critical acclaim upon its release with People Magazine and Blender Magazine describing the album as “musically rich” and “a classy collection” respectively and the track Hold Me from The Promise was Grammy nominated for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance. Spawned from the album was the kalimba laden track “All in the Way“, reminiscent of the classic EW&F sound such as the kalimba laden track “All in the Way“, which reunited EWF with The Emotions. In addition the album featured two previously unreleased songs from the “I Am” recording sessions which were the tracks “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Dirty”.

Earth, Wind & Fire performed in a tribute to funk at the 46th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California on February 8, 2004. Other artists who performed at this tribute were Parliament FunkadelicOutKast and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. EWF sang “Shining Star” and then at Outkast’s request crooned “The Way You Move” with them, Robert Randolph and the Family Band performed their single I Need More Love and then all of the bands teamed up to sing Parliament Funkadelic’s classic Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker).[25][47] Earth, Wind & Fire contributed to the Jimi Hendrix Tribute album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix which was released in May 4, 2004 with their cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)“. In the Summer of 2004 Earth, Wind & Fire signed a record deal with Sanctuary Urban Records, owned by Mathew Knowles, who is the father and manager of r&b/pop singer Beyoncé. Gary Bias and Bob Burns Jr. of the Earth, Wind & Fire Horns were featured on Queen Latifah‘s The Dana Owens Album which was released on September 28, 2004 and got to 16 and 11 on The Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts respectively and was certified Gold.

Kenny G‘s cover of “The Way You Move“, which was released in November 2004 and charted at number 12 on the Adult Contemporary singles chart featured the band with Maurice and Philip on lead vocals. EWF and Kenny G performed “The Way You Move” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in January 2005.[48] On December 11, 2004 Earth, Wind & Fire were honored at the first annual Grammy Jam held at Los Angeles’s Wiltern Theater where several artists such as Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, Sheila E., Miri Ben-Ari, George Duke, Kanye West and Randy Jackson paid tribute to the band in the form of performances. Other celebrities that attended the event were Pamela Anderson, Tim Allen, Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Nick Cannon and Suzanne de Passe.[49] EWF performed on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on December 31, 2004, .[50]

EWF released a single entitled “Show Me The Way” upon which they paired up with neo soul artist Raphael Saadiq on Sanctuary Records in the fall of 2005. The single garnered a Grammy nomination and was featured on Illumination their nineteenth studio album, which was released on September 20, 2005. With this album EWF collaborated with artists such as Will.i.am, Kelly Rowland, Outkast’s Big Boi and Brian McKnight. Illumination reached number eight on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart and number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.Another single spawned from the album dubbed “Pure Gold” reached number 23 on the Adult Contemporary Charts.

The album garnered the admiration of critics with Allmusic‘s Rob Theakston referring to the album as an “outstanding record” and Steve Jones of USA Today remarking that on the album EWF are as “vibrant as ever”.[51][52] Illumination received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and a Soul Train Music Award in the category R&B-soul album. EWF also received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Duo or Group.[53]

The Super Bowl XXXIX pregame show in Jacksonville, Florida which took place on February 6, 2005 saw the band teaming up with The Black Eyed Peas to sing “Where Is the Love?” and “Shining Star”.[54][55] In March 2005 EWF performed in Russia for the first time.[34]

In 2004 Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago embarked upon a joint national tour which gave rise to to a DVD of a concert of that tour that took place at Los Angeles’s Greek Theater that was entitled Chicago & Earth, Wind & Fire – Live at the Greek Theatre. This DVD was released on June 28, 2005 and was certified Platinum just two months afterward. Chicago and EWF once again toured together in 2005 and collaborated for a new recording of Chicago’s ballad “If You Leave Me Now” that was included on Chicago’s 2005 compilation album Love Songs. As part of an opening act for the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards held on on September 18, 2005 at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California the band once more collaborated up with the The Black Eyed Peas and this was first time that a musical artist had opened at the annual awards show.[34] On September 27, 2005, former Earth, Wind & Fire member and member of the Phenix Horns trombonist Louis Satterfield passed away. He was 67 years old.

In 2005 EWF released their first Christmas themed track entitled “Gather Round”, which was produced and arranged by Foster and written by Maurice White, David Foster and Philip Bailey.[56] In 2006 Maurice worked with Maurice Hines who is the brother of famed entertainer Gregory Hines to release the Broadway play Hot Feet which was a jukebox musical that had as its theme the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. Maurice wrote along with Allee Willis who wrote September,Boogie Wonderland, In the Stone and Sunday Morning for the band several new songs for the play. EWF performed alongside Mary J Blige and LudacrisRunaway Love” at the 49th Grammy Awards held at Los Angeles’s Staples Center .[57]

Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 US Open August 25, 2008

Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire which is a cover album of EWF’s material was released on Stax Records on March 27, 2007. Executively produced by Maurice, the album featured artists such as Chaka Khan, Kirk Franklin, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition, Dwele, Meshell Ndegeocello and Angie Stone.Dwele and Meshell Ndegeocello‘s renditions of of “That’s The Way Of The World” and “Fantasy” respectively were each nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

At a special edition of American Idol titled “Idol Gives Back” which was aired on April 25, 2007, the band served as the opening act for the event where they performed a medley of “Boogie Wonderland”, “Shining Star” and “September”.[58] At the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which took place in Oslo, Norway, on December 11, 2007 Earth, Wind & fire performed “Fantasy“, “September“. The Nobel Peace Prize Concert was broadcast to over 100 countries and was hosted by Kevin Spacey and Uma Thurman. Other artists that performed at the concert included Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and Kylie Minogue.[59]

On the opening night of one of the largest musical events in Latin America, Chile’s Viña del Mar Festival, Earth, Wind & Fire performed. So impressed were the audience by their performance that the band was bestowed with the “Gaviota de Plata” known in english as the Silver Seagul which is the highest award that can presented to an artist performing at the Viña del Mar Festival. Ironically the intro to EWF’s song “In the Stone” has been used for several years as the introductory theme for the broadcasting of the event.[60][61][62][63]

Maurice White, Ralph Johnson, Philip Bailey and Verdine White were each the recipients of an honorary degree from the Arts and Media College at Columbia College Chicago during the college’s 2008 commencement exercises. Verdine White and Bailey both gave brief speeches during the ceremony, which was followed by by all four honorees giving an impromptu performance of “Shining Star”.[64] EWF performed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 US Open which was hosted by Forrest Whitaker and served to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis’s Open Era with a parade of more than 25 former US Open singles champions.[65]

Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the White House on February 22, 2009, for the Governors’ Dinner, being the first musical artist to perform there since Barack Obama took office.[66] The band toured once more with Chicago in 2009 for a tour of thirty US cities.[dated info][67] On April 26, 2009, EWF performed at the 39th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.[68]

In 2010, EWF made a repeat performance at the 40th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and in that same year bandmembers Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson participated in the recording of the We Are the World 25 for Haiti single.[69] 2010 was also the year that saw Earth, Wind & Fire’s original members Maurice White, Phillip Bailey, Verdine White, Al McKay and Larry Dunn all being inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.[citation needed]

In November 2011, the band was given the Legend Award at the Soul Train Awards of that year which was held at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia.[70] In 2012 EWF were bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award At The 20th Annual Trumpet Awards which was held at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.[71]

Posted February 20, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Musicians

2 responses to “EARTH WIND & FIRE

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  1. Some truly interesting information , satisfactorily written and generally user genial .

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