Artist of the Month - The Dells & The Newbirth PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 13 July 2009 15:46

Artist of the Month – The Dells and the Newbirth

This month we will feature the mighty mighty Dells and the Newbirth. Recently, Chuck Barksdale of the Dells plus Leslie and Melvin Wilson of the Newbith were guests of Howard Burchette on the Funk show.  


The Dells


The Dells have been singing together for more than 58 years. For the most part, the current line up is made up of the original members. The group is made up of five members who are Marvin Junior (lead baritone), John Carter (lead tenor), Charles Barksdale (bass), Michael McGill (baritone) and Verne Allison (second tenor). They began singing in High School in 1952 cutting their first single as the E-Rays. Their first hit came when they moved to Vee Jay Records entitled "Oh What a Night". During this early period, they worked for Dinah Washington and then Ray Charles. At this time the group became respected Jazz singers. According to interviews on their DVD "The Dells: Oh What a Night", the group had said that Dinah Washington was a hard person to work for. She fired and rehired them more than once.

Their first album on Chess was in 1968 entitled "There Is". The title track is an up tempo soul classic. This also included their first million seller of "Stay in My Corner". In 1969 they released the "Love Is Blue" album which included a re-recording of "Oh What a Night". That same year the "Musical Menu / Always Together" album included the title track "Always Together" which was a hit. The year 1971 gave them a hit "The Love We had (Stays On My Mind)" and is included on the "Freedom Means" album. In 1973 "My Pretending Days Are Over" became a popular hit for the Dells and it was included on an album that year simply called "The Dells". The same year "Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation" was a hit and gave the Dells a lot of success. An album of the same name followed. The Dells made some recordings with the Dramatics resulting with a popular hit "Love Is Missing From Our Lives". The Dramatics a one time Stax group were without a record label at that time and latter went to MCA. The Dells continued to record and tour throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s, and into the 21st century.


Chuck Barksdale was a special guest of Howard Burchette in an interview on the history of The Dells on the Funkshow.



The Newbirth


     The story of The Newbirth began prior to 1970 when Vernon Bullock and Harvey Fuqua configured a package of groups that recorded separately, but would perform together as a review then called The Newbirth. Fuqua was the founder of The Moonglows and a former song writer and producer at Motown. One group under The Newbirth umbrella were The Nite-liters who were the back up band. They would record classics like "K-Gee" and "Afro Strut". The debut self titled "Newbirth" album was released in 1970, included The Nite-liters, a male quartet called The Now Sound, a female quartet called The Mint Juleps and a lead solo singer named Alan Frey. In 1971 under the name The Newbirth, the configuration released the album "Aint No Big Thing But It's Growing". It produced a hit called "It's Impossible". The lead singer on the hit was Londee Wiggins-Loren. By 1972 "Love Peace & Happiness" were formed with Ann Bogan a former Marvelette and Motown recording artist plus brothers Melvin and Leslie Wilson. They recorded two albums under Harvey Fuqua, resulting in a charted hit "I Don't Want To Do Wrong". Love Peace & Happiness soon were incorporated into The Newbirth review and they can be heard on the third Newbirth album "Coming together". In 1972 Ann Bogan left The Newbirth and was replaced by Alan Frey who had been the lead vocalist for The Nite-liters. The group's new line up and the new Newbirth were Melvin and Leslie Wilson, Alan Frey, Londee Wiggins-Loren plus The Nite-liters. The fourth album was "Birthday" which produced the hit "I Can Understand It" featuring Leslie Wilson on lead vocals. The next album was "It’s Been A Long Time" again featuring Leslie on lead vocals and another big hit "Wildflower". The next album was "Coming From All Ends" that included the funk hit "Washed My Hands of the Whole Deal". The 1975 album was released on Buddah Records called "Blind Baby". It contained a #1 hit "Dream Merchant", again with Leslie on lead vocals. The Newbirth organization continued to record until the early 1980’s. In 2004 Melvin and Leslie Wilson released a new CD under the name "Newbirth featuring Leslie and Melvin Wilson" called "Lifetime".

Both Leslie and Melvin Wilson have been guests on The Funk Show twice. Once during a live fund raising show and one during a exclusive interview. The Newbirth are real icons of the Funk.

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 09:12