Star-Bulletin Features

Cuba Gooding Sr., who joins the Main Ingredient, will take concertgoers down memory lane.

Stylized soul

The Stylistics have changed since
they first hit the pop charts in 1971
but they're still singing strong

By John Berger

Glenn Medeiros, if you're in Honolulu, the Stylistics say hello!

"Hopefully, when we get to Hawaii, (if) he's there, we can get a chance to have a chat with him," Stylistics' spokesman Herb Murrell said last week, calling from Las Vegas minutes before a concert. The Stylistics will take the stage tonight as "Uncle Tom" Moffatt brings a '70s Soul Jam to the Blaisdell Arena. The vocal group has appeared here as concert headliners several times since they first hit the pop charts in 1971, but their link to Medeiros dates from 1990, when they teamed up to record a song titled "Me - U = Blue."

"It's good to be coming back," Murrell said. "It's been a while for us, but the Stylistics are still going strong. We've made a few changes over the years but we're still traveling around the world every year and we are just truly blessed that we've had good songs that sustained the group over the years."

The Stylistics.

Murrell and lead vocalist Airron Love (featured on the classics "You Are Everything" and "You Make Me Feel Brand New") are the two founding members of the original quintet still touring. The group became a quartet when James Dunn decided to retire years ago, and proved themselves just as strong when they appeared here after his departure. Murrell says they still keep in touch with Dunn.

"From time to time, he'll either call me or I'll call him and we'll chat about old times and what's going on now," Murrell said.

Seasoned soul fans can expect to see to some new faces in some of the other Soul Jam groups as well. Harold Melvin, who founded the original Blue Notes in 1954, died several years ago, and the group's current name honors his legacy (Teddy Pendergrass, lead vocalist on the group's biggest hits, "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and "The Love I Lost," went solo in 1976.) Robert "Squirrel" Lester is the sole survivor of the original Chi-Lites, and the Main Ingredient now gives top billing to Cuba Gooding Sr., father of the famous actor, who joined Lester Simmons Jr. and Tony Sylvester in time to be part of that group's 2 million-selling singles, "Everybody Plays The Fool" and "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely."

Also on the bill, the Delfonics, whose million-seller, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," was one of the all-time great put-downs of the era.

Then come the Stylistics, with 5 million-selling singles, three gold albums and a lot of great memories. When asked one of the obvious questions about the Stylistics' success, Murrell says he had no idea when their first single, "You're A Big Girl Now," was released in 1971, that the group and its music would have the staying power that it has.

"We were truly blessed to be associated in the beginning of our career with a good producer in Thom Bell, and a good lyricist in the late Linda Creed. We were young, so we couldn't see that far ahead ... but we were very, very fortunate and blessed to have some good songs, good writers and producers in our career, that gave us songs that have sustained us."

And what songs they are! For every million-seller of theirs, there are several other Stylistics songs that true fans and scholars of the music will agree are classics as well, "People Make The World Go Round" and "Let's Put It All Together," just to name two. Murrell says they'll probably be in the show.

'70s Soul Jam

Featuring the Stylistics, the Chi-Lites, the Delfonics, Harold Melvin's Blue Notes, and the Main Ingredient with Cuba Gooding Sr.

Where: Blaisdell Arena
When: 7 p.m. today
Tickets: $45 and $35
Call: 591-2211

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