Up & Coming Weekly

February 26, 2019

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 5, 2019 UCW 15 STEPHANIE CRIDER, Associate Publisher. COMMENTS? Editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. The O'Jays rock Community Concerts season by STEPHANIE CRIDER COVER STORY e O'Jays come March 15 e O'Jays have been wowing audiences and crooning chart- topping hits since the 1960s. Friday, March 15, the legendary group brings its soul-soothing music to the Crown, compliments of the local, music-focused nonprofit Community Concerts. e fourth show in a five-concert Community Concerts season, the O'Jays performance helps fill out a rock 'n' roll-themed year. e O'Jays has earned its place in music history, churning out hits for more than 50 years. Band members Walter Williams and Eddie Levert first met when they were the ages of 6 and 7, respectively. As teenag- ers in Canton, Ohio, they formed a band originally consisting of Levert, Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. While several members have since changed, Levert and Wil- liams continue to lead the group. "We still appreciate our friendship, dedication to each other and the group and our love for good music," Williams said. "We probably could have had great solo careers, but I don't think either one of us could have ever been as big as e O'Jays." Williams has battled multiple sclerosis for 30 years and continues to execute his dance moves with perfection when performing onstage with the group. He is also a volunteer National Ambassador for the MS Society and a spokesperson for MS Ac- tive Source. Levert is known for his raspy voice with a range that reaches from alto to second tenor. Levert teamed up with his son Gerald for a duet, "Baby, Hold On To Me," which hit No. 1 on the R&B charts. Eddie also mentored his sons Gerald and Sean, who worked in the music industry. "Backstabbers" is one of the band's early hits. From there, e O'Jays came up with various pop and R&B singles, including "Love Train," "Put Your Hands Together," "For the Love of Money," "I Love Music," "Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)," "Livin' for the Weekend" and "Use Ta Be My Girl." e O'Jays were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005 and e Official R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2013. ey were honored with BET's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. eir music continues to entertain across many platforms and is featured in many movies, commercials and TV shows. e Community Concerts 2018-19 season Community Concerts Attractions Director Mi- chael Fleishman noted that while last year's Broad- way-esque season featured song, dance and a bit of magic, this year is all about concerts and rock 'n' roll. And Community Concerts didn't hold back. e season opened with former Steely Dan mem- ber, Doobie Brother and Grammy Award winner Mi- chael McDonald for "Season of Peace" in November. Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famers ree Dog Night fol- lowed in late February. Between 1969 and 1974, no other group had more top 10 hits, sold more records or more concert tickets than ree Dog Night. eir songs still fill the airwaves and live on in commer- cials and television shows, too. "e Choir of Man" hits the stage Feb. 27, a feisty standout in an impressive lineup of well-estab- lished superstars. Part concert, part party, part pub crawl, "e Choir of Man" is not only a worldwide hit, it's an interactive experience the audience won't soon forget. "is is a stand-up-and-cheer show," Fleishman said. "Don't let the name fool you." Fleishman noted that the set includes a full work- ing bar and a piano. He added that the performers are "on fire," bringing a level of zeal to the perfor- mance that will surely have people singing along and dancing in the aisles. One of the show's producers, Nic Doodson, said, "e guys have spent the last couple of years touring the U.K. and Australia, and they are ready to bring this show to American audiences. "is concert is such a great time for all — wheth- er it's a ladies' night, first date, guys' night out or even a bachelorette party. So, grab your best mates and we'll see you at the venue … the first pint is on us, (seriously)!" "e Choir of Man" celebrates the music of rock icons, including Adele, Queen, Paul Simon, Katy Perry, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. e cast features world-class tap dancers, acrobats, singers, instrumentalists and poets. "America" closes out the Community Concerts season April 4. Formed in London in the 1960s, this classic rock powerhouse's hits include "A Horse with No Name," "I Need You," "Ventura Highway," "Don't Cross the River," "Tin Man," "Lonely People" and "Sister Golden Hair." eir reach spans generations of rock 'n' roll fans, and their followers still show up in droves to see them perform. About Community Concerts Community Concerts holds the title of Fayetteville's oldest art orga- nization. e sole purpose of this all-volunteer entity is to bring the finest top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville, and it's been doing just that for more than eight decades. Like most volunteer-based orga- nizations, there is always room for more help, more ideas and more enthusiasm within the ranks. "e secret to this organization has been to try to take it up a notch every year, get good groups and treat people well," said Fleishman. "ere are lots of people who like being involved in music things. We are looking for board mem- bers that enjoy selling and talking about shows. is is a very hands- on organization." Beyond a dedicated team of volunteers and a commitment to bring the best music available to this community, the organization's passion has spilled over into other beneficial music-related programs. In 2008, Community Concerts decided to create a way to celebrate and honor those who have brought musical distinction to the community. As a result, each year, at one of the season's concerts, new inductees join the distinguished members of the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame. In addition to recognizing locals for their music- related achievements, Community Concerts helps aspiring musicians chase their dreams by awarding scholarships to local high school graduates. e program started in 2004. To date, nearly 30 students have received scholarships. ere are other ways Community Concerts sup- ports local artists. One example is its local artist showcase program, which puts local performers onstage during regular season shows. Performers who have participated in the local artist showcase include Voices of the Heart, which opened for Gladys Knight; students from Linda Kinlaw's School of Dance, who performed with Martina McBride; and Trae Edwards, who performed at the Ricky Skaggs Show. Community Concerts also provides free concert opportunities to select groups. Some of the groups that have already benefitted from this program in- clude the Vision Resource Center, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, e Sunshine Center, members of local fire and police departments, high school theater art classes and members of the military. For tickets and information, visit community-concerts.com/about-us. L to R: Eddie Levert, Eric Nolan Grant, Walter Williams of e O'Jays

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