“Surrounded by a family with a great love for life and music, it must have been the destiny of South Carolina raised LeVar Thomas to become a singer and songwriter.” So opens the biography of this talented singer and songwriter.
“As a child LeVar spent his afternoons at his grandparents house,” his story continues. “He would hear his uncles blaring hip-hop in one room, his grandmother listening to gospel records in another room and his grandfather singing while tending his garden. While at home he grabbed every record his mother and father had around and listened intently to each one of them.”
It’s the variety of influences LeVar drops into his cut “Lovin’ Alone” that impresses us. We hear the 60s gospel-flavored of Aretha in his voice, we love hearing the harmonies of the great 70s standup soul groups like the Chi-Lites and the electro-pop beats of 80s-era Hall & Oates all wrapped around lyrics that could’ve been nestled into a Boyz II Men jam.
Take a minute to read the full biography of Levar Thomas, dig his free download and make sure to support this good man’s music.
Long a member of the Motown stable, Gladys Knight and the Pips started charting records in July 1961 when their rendition of “Every Beat of My Heart” hit #6.
Twice during their Motown career they reached #2 (with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and Jim Weatherly‘s “Neither One of Us”) but #1 eluded them until October 1973 when they were recording for New York’s Buddah imprint.
Turning again to a Jim Weatherly tune, the group debuted “Midnight Train to Georgia” at #71. Five weeks later the song was a #1 smash, a considerably different tune that Weatherly’s original song, recorded with a country lilt and called “Midnight Plane To Houston.”
One of the most sampled songs in the pop repertoire, “What You Won’t Do for Love” was the lone Top-40 hit for New York-born singer Bobby Caldwell.
Born in Manhattan in 1951, Bobby Caldwell began his career as a rock singer, opening for Little Richard, touring with Johnny Winter‘s band and recording with the likes of Rick Derringer (who included Caldwell on his All-American Boy album). Caldwell also appeared anonymously on countless jingles and TV songs.
Twenty years of living in the musical shadows ended when Caldwell recorded his first solo release on Clouds Records in 1979. Included on the album was the George Benson-esque slow jam “What You Won’t Do for Love.” Hoping to win airplay on R&B stations, Caldwell’s identity — that is, the fact he is white — was obscured by photos of him shown only in silhouette, for example.
The strategy worked with Caldwell placing his cut at #6 on the R&B charts and, as his only pop hit, at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “What You Won’t do for Love” has since went on to live a second life, having been sampled by everyone from Aaliyah to 2Pac.
The highest debuting single of the week of August 25, 1973, “Keep On Truckin’” became a #1 hit for one-time member of the Temptations, Eddie Kendricks.
“I knew it was a hit because of the title,” Eddie Kendricks is quoted as saying in The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits. “The old people used to truck when they were dancing,” he added about the song his producer, Frank Wilson, first played for him as a seven minute demo. “And I knew the trucking industry would embrace the record.”
Kendricks, whose distinctive tenor helped make numerous hits for the Temptations, was right about “Keep On Truckin’.” After its stellar debut, Kendricks saw his song make a steady eleven week climb to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, where it spent two weeks in November 1973.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected President, the US celebrated its bicentennial, NBC broadcast Gone With the Wind and George Benson’s “This Masquerade” picked up a Grammy. On the pop charts, R&B was strong with great cuts from Marvin Gaye, the O’Jays and the Manhattans.