Reflections: Talented And Always On The Move

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    192L.J.-Reynolds

    It is almost impossible to have a boring conversation with L.J. Reynolds, longtime Dramatics lead singer and one of the strongest male vocalists of all time.

    He is always eager to talk about some of the things he is involved in, including the Dramatics, maintaining his successful concurrent career as a gospel artist, lining up performance dates, writing songs, assembling artists for special projects, etc.

    Reynolds seems happy and says enthusiastically, “I just learned how to live!”

    A replacement for Ron Banks has not been found yet.  The auditioning continues although not always systematically. They are looking for someone talented, compatible with the other members, and “about 40.”

    Reynolds says he was very flattered but embarrassed when John Mason referred to him, on the air, as the LeBron James of R&B.

    From 1971 to 1980, the Dramatics had an impressive 17 major national hit singles (Top 10,  Top 20, Top 30).  Those records, in order of entry onto the official Billboard charts, were:
    “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” “Get Up and Get Down,” “In the Rain,” “Toast to the Fool,” “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain,” “Fell For You,” “Door to Your Heart,” “Choosing Up on You,” “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

    “(I’m Going By) The Stars in Your Eyes,” “You’re Fooling You,” “Be My Girl,” “I Can’t Get Over You,” “Shake It Well,” “Ocean of Thoughts and Dreams,” “Stop Your Weeping” and “Welcome Back Home.”
    That, of course, is in addition to numerous best-selling albums, of which my favorite is “Jackpot.”

    On Sunday, Nov. 13, an event titled “The Dramatics Tribute to Ron Banks and Other Fallen Dramatics” will take place at Music Hall, hosted by Cuba Gooding Sr. and featuring George Clinton, Joe Billingslea’s Contours, the Chi-Lites, the Original Vandellas, Judge Greg Mathis and others. To learn more, call (248) 499-3934 or e-mail info@dramaticsmusic.com.

    COUNT ME in among those impressed with the skills and compatibility of Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Brandy on “Dancing With The Stars.” They could easily win the competition. Maks is a rough instructor and he and Brandy clash often in rehearsal, but the finished products are special and a pleasure to watch.

    One of the most famous, and witty, lines in R&B and pop music is “Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love don’t pay my bills.” Berry Gordy says he came up with the humorous line for Barrett Strong’s 1960 smash “Money (That’s What I Want).” However, famed blues artist John Lee Hooker said he had been singing those words around Detroit for years.

    Well, it’s possible that Gordy had heard it before but didn’t realize it. It’s also conceivable that two people thought of the same line. Third possibility: It was plagiarized.

    It is hard to believe — yet true — that fiery and controversial Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan used to be a calypso singer and flamenco dancer.  He is also an accomplished classical violinist.

    WHOOPI GOLDBERG  did the right thing when she and fellow co-host Joy Behar walked off the set of “The View” when face-to-face with ultra-conservative, inflammatory and often racist political commentator Bill O’Reilly who was expressing his usual divisive views.

    “If something offends you to the point where you can’t have a civil conversation, get out of the way,” said the always honest Goldberg. “I was going to cuss him out and you can’t do that. Had I stayed there I probably would have been fired. I was past the point of no return.”

    SPEAKING of candor, one of our readers, Greg Hendricks, laid it on the line regarding several members of the Jackson family (Jermaine, Joe, etc.) who seem relentless in their quest to channel some of the millions of dollars still being generated by the late megastar Michael Jackson.

    Here is how Hendricks put it in his e-mail:  “Some members of the Jackson family are pimping Michael’s legacy. They all had access to major money and it’s obvious some of them squandered it away and are now looking for the next payout. It’s downright pitiful.”

    But on the other hand, Usher is to be commended for his attitude regarding younger singers such as Chris Brown and Trey Songz.  He said, “There is no competition. I think these artists are doing great. They definitely need to have the support of the people who have paved the road. Ego can’t get in the way.”  (Usher has Songz touring with him and reportedly may be working with Brown later.)

    Rihanna says that in retrospect, the well-publicized abuse she took from another singer was “a turning point” that she is now grateful for. “I needed that wake-up call,” she said.

    Did you know that Rihanna and pop/rock singer Katy Perry are best friends?
    Look for Kanye West’s new album on Nov. 22 (with five different covers!) and a new release (acoustic) from Adam Lambert before the year is out. His first album, “For Your Entertainment,” is outstanding.

    BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that despite her massive success as a recording artist and despite many nominations, Diana Ross has never won a Grammy.

    MEMORIES: “Please Return Your Love to Me” (the Temptations), “Rainy Night in Georgia” (Brook Benton), “Love Is Life” (Earth, Wind & Fire), “Jive Talkin’” (the Bee Gees), “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (Whitney Houston), “Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)” (Edwin Starr), “Girlfriend” (Pebbles), “Just One Look” (Doris Troy), “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” (Bill Withers).

    BLESSINGS to Charles Rudolph, Von Harrell, Andre Smith, Danton Wilson, Doris Gray, Monica Morgan, Louella Norton, Khadejah Shelby, Al Hudson, Steve Bryant and Bruce Knight.

    WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Denzel Washington: “Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you are prepared for it.”

    Let the music play!

    (Steve Holsey can be reached at Svh517@aol.com and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)

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