You can count them on one hand — soul bands that consistently sell out venues but haven’t had new product on the market in over two decades.
Frankie Beverly and Maze have some of those dedicated fans in the history of show business. They are there always.
“I am amazed by our longevity,” said Beverly. “It’s a blessing and I thank God. I never thought it would be like this. I want to keep on doing this until I can’t do it anymore.”
Beverly is not interested in awards, just the rewards that come from sharing with and pleasing audiences.
A concert by this band from Philadelphia is not just a show, it is an event. A time to mellow out and let the music take them to special places.
The “events” can work during the day, but nighttime is more atmospheric, more conducive to getting the full impact of Beverly’s “silky, silky soul.”
Beverly is among the many stars that hail from Philly, including Patti LaBelle, Boyz II Men, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Jill Scott and director Lee Daniels.
HAVING done his initial singing in church, like so many others, Beverly formed his first band, the Blenders, in the 1950s, a doo-wop, a cappella ensemble influenced by popular groups of the day like the Moonglows and the Dells.
And by the way, he was born Howard Beverly, but was such a fan of Frankie Lymon that he adopted the name Frankie. He recalls singing Lymon songs on street corners and being grateful for the coins people would throw.
After the Blenders came the Butlers, who thought it would be to their advantage to relocate to the West Coast. Once arrived and settled, they chose a new name, Raw Soul.
By way of a member of the Gordy family, Raw Soul came to the attention of Marvin Gaye who hired them as an opening act. It was also Gaye who pushed hard to have Beverly change the band’s name to Maze.
The newly christened Maze signed with Capitol Records in 1976, a smart move for all parties involved.
Their debut album, “Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly,” was a top seller and yielded three hit singles.
THAT FIRST album was certified Gold by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) for reaching the 500,000 mark in sales.
So, too, did the next seven: “Golden Time of Day”(1978), “Inspiration” (1979), “Joy and Pain” (1980), “We Are One” (1983), “Can’t Stop the Love” (1985), “Silky Soul” (1989) and “Back to Basics” (1993), the latter two on the Warner Bros. label.
From these albums came an array of hit singles, including “Feel That You’re Feelin’,” “Southern Girl,” “Running Away,” “Love is the Key,” “Back in Stride,” “Too Many Games,” “I Wanna be with You,” “Can’t Get Over You,” “Silky Soul” (a tribute to Marvin Gaye), “Love’s on the Run” and “Laid Back Girl.”
But interestingly, the song Frankie Beverly and Maze are best known for, “Joy and Pain,” was never released as a single.
Early on, Beverly developed a signature look — all white attire and always a cap.
CONSIDERING the cool, jazzy flavor of his music, it comes as no surprise that Frankie Beverly has a preference for jazz — a certain amount of contemporary, but primarily standard jazz as played by such icons as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis (before he switched to fusion), John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie.
Vocally, some of his “silky smoothness” was adapted from an all-time favorite, Sam Cooke.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Beverly and his bandmates that a large segment of their concert audiences is comprised of females, who — rightfully — feel they are being serenaded.
Sooner or later — hopefully sooner — there will be new music from Frankie Beverly and Maze, but he assures that it will not be a departure from what the band has always done. And the subject matter will remain the same as well, either romantic love or agape love.
“We’re all the same and we all want the same thing — love,” he said.
Like the music of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, the concept is timeless. — SVH