Founded in Indiana by brothers Kevon and Melvin Edmonds along with friend Keith Mitchell, After 7 began as a trio intent on refining their live performances at local venues.
After relocating to Los Angeles to join their younger brother Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and L.A. Reid in 1988, the group secured a recording contract with Virgin Records and began working on their eponymous debut album. Released the following year, After 7 became an instant success. The album was eventually certified Platinum and produced two #1 Billboard R&B singles: “Can’t Stop” and “Ready Or Not.” The two singles subsequently reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and were both certified Gold.
Following an astonishing seven year run at Virgin Records, the group entered into a hiatus as Kevon embarked on a solo career — releasing two albums: 1999’s 24/7 (RCA Records) and 2009’s Who Knew (Make Entertainment).
While absent from the radio waves, the group has reunited on countless stages in the years following their initial hiatus, performing for live audiences across the globe. But as the years rolled on, it was apparent that something was indeed missing from the R&B charts, and in summer 2015, After 7 entered the recording studio for the first time in nearly two decades. The result was “I Want You,” a smooth uptempo groove that eventually found its way to the charts, peaking at number six on the Urban Adult Contemporary and Billboard Adult R&B Songs charts, respectively.
It has been said that true talent never dies, and in the midst of a classic R&B revival, the original line up of the Platinum R&B vocal trio After 7 makes a dynamic return with their unmistakable sound. Riding the wave of their Billboard Adult R&B hit, “I Want You,” and reunited with esteemed Grammy winning producer/songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Daryl Simmons after a 20-year hiatus, After 7’s latest album marks a fine return to a vocal group that adeptly distills the essence of soul.
Click here to visit the official After 7 website.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Alicia Michelle “Miki” Howard was the daughter of two well-known gospel singers. Her father, Clay Graham, sang with the Pilgrim Jubilees and her mother, Josephine Howard, was a member of the Caravans, a group that would eventually be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
When Howard was in her early teens, her mother moved the family to Los Angeles. Already aiming at a career in music, the 15-year-old Howard received her first break when she participated in a teen beauty contest. Augie Johnson, leader of the group Side Effect, happened to be in the audience; impressed with Howard’s singing talent, Howard also joined the lineup of Side Effect in 1978 when another singer departed. She sang with Side Effect until 1982.
Howard signed a contract with Atlantic Records in the mid-1980s and recorded her first solo album, “Come Share My Love,” in 1986. The title track from the album was its first single, hitting the top ten of the R&B charts and reaching number five in late 1986. A remake of the pop standard “Imagination,” which Howard had fought to include on “Come Share My Love,” was another hit from the album.
Howard’s second solo album, 1988’s “Love Confessions,” offered another top-five R&B hit with “Baby Be Mine.” “That’s What Love Is,” a duet with Gerald Levert, also hit the R&B charts. In the meantime, Howard’s third solo album,” Miki Howard,” was released in 1989 and proved her most commercially successful to date. The single “Ain’t Nuthin’ in the World” became Howard’s first number-one hit on the R&B charts and another song, “Love Under New Management,” followed it to number two and became one of Howard’s signature tunes.
Howard continued with a successful solo career after switching to Giant Records in 1991. Her first single under her new contract, “Ain’t Nobody like You,” became Howard’s second number-one R&B hit. The subsequent album, 1992’s “Femme Fatale,” featured Howard’s renditions of classic tracks originally performed by Dinah Washington (“This Bitter Earth”) and Billie Holiday (“Good Morning Heartache”).
After a casting director saw her perform some Billie Holiday tunes at a New York City concert at Radio City Music Hall, Howard was offered the chance to portray Holiday in a nightclub scene in director Spike Lee’s 1992 film “Malcolm X.” The following year, Howard recorded an entire album of Holiday songs, “Miki Sings Billie,” including her favorite Holiday tune, “Don’t Explain.” In 1993, Howard made another movie appearance in director John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice.”
She released “Live Plus” in 1996 and a comeback album of original material, “Can’t Count Me Out,” in 1997. After a four year hiatus, “Three Wishes,” was released in 2001 to excellent reviews. The album earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional R&B Recording.
She followed that with “Pillow Talk” (2006), “Private Collection” (2008), “I Choose To Be Happy” (2015) and a live recording, “Miki Howard- Live In Concert,” in 2015.
Howard was featured on the second season on TV One’s critically acclaimed bio-series “Unsung.” Miki’s episode was the highest rated of her season and in 2015 was adapted into a TV movie for TV One to be released in June of 2016 with “Chi-Raq” actress Teyonah Parris in the lead role.
Click here to visit the official Miki Howard
Paul Jackson Jr.
Jazz Funk Soul
Smooth jazz trio Jazz Funk Soul is a super group featuring keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., and saxophonist Everette Harp. Formed as a live touring ensemble in 2013, the trio makes instrumental jazz and R&B built upon the vast career experience of all three members.
Pianist, composer and producer Jeff Lorber has been a major innovator on the creative music scene for over three decades, having produced for everyone from Dave Koz to Kenny G. Along with maestros Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample and Bob James, Lorber is a groundbreaking Fender Rhodes pioneer. The Grammy nominated pianist’s long running acclaimed ensemble, Jeff Lorber Fusion, was a major force in contemporary jazz’s early beginnings.
Everette Harp’s soulful and trademark blend of jazz, R&B, funk and pop have made him a favorite among fans, fellow musicians and critics alike. Harp’s impressive career that has allowed him to collaborate with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross and Patti Labelle to George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Billy Joel and Kenny Loggins. He has left an indelible imprint on the scene with his own unique, muscular and soulful approach. His work on TV has brought his saxophone into the homes of millions who have heard him playing the theme songs for such popular TV shows as Entertainment Tonight and Soul Train. He also holds the distinction of being a former member of the posse on the first Arsenio Hall Show.
Paul Jackson, Jr. is regarded as one of the most recorded guitarists in the world. He has seven successful albums, containing several top ten releases which include the Grammy-nominated “I Came to Play.” In 2014, Jackson contributed to several tracks on the album Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, which garnered five Grammy Awards and was the number one album in 104 countries. Jackson earned a Grammy recognition for his contributions to the album. Paul has recorded with multiple superstars such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller, Kirk Whalum, Elton John, George Duke and many more.
Click here to visit Jeff Lorber’s official website.
Click here to visit Everette Harp’s official website.
Click here to visit Paul Jackson, Jr.’s official website.
The S.O.S. Band
The S.O.S. Band (abbreviation for Sounds of Success) is an American R&B and electro-funk group who gained fame in the 1980s. They are best known for the songs “Take Your Time (Do It Right),” “Just Be Good to Me,” “Tell Me If You Still Care,” and “The Finest.”
The group was formed in Atlanta, GA in 1977 by keyboardist/vocalist Jason Bryant, saxophonists Billy Ellis and Willie “Sonny” Killebrew, guitarist Bruno Speight, bassist John Alexander Simpson, drummer James Earl Jones III, and lead vocalist Mary Davis. Davis left the group in 1987 to pursue a solo career, but later revived the group with Abdul Ra’oof in 1994.
In 1980, the group released their first hit single “Take Your Time (Do It Right).” The single went platinum, reached number one on the R&B chart, and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Their debut album titled “S.O.S.” also performed remarkably well, selling over 800,000 copies and reaching number two on the R&B album chart.
The band subsequently toured and welcomed the multi-instrumentalist Abdul Ra’oof to the line-up, whose recording debut with the band came on their sophomore album “Too” in 1981. S.O.S. Band’s third studio release entitled “S.O.S. Band III” came in 1982 with support from acclaimed producer Terry Lewis.
After these modest successes, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis took over production for their fourth LP titled “On the Rise.” The album became certified gold, as did its successor “Just the Way You Like It” which featured the number six R&B single of the same name. The album “Sands of Time,” which included the number two R&B hit “The Finest,” went gold and hit number four on the R&B charts in spring 1986. Many of these released are credited with helping to popularize the now-classic sound of the Roland TR-808 drum machine.chine.
Click here to visit The SOS Band’s official website.
The Pete Escovedo Orchestra
Legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo is an artist who broke down the barriers between smooth jazz, salsa, Latin jazz and contemporary music. His name has been synonymous in the music industry for more than 50 years. Today, he leads what is widely considered one of the finest orchestras in Latin jazz, a mix of musicians from both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The end result is a joyous concoction of Latin rhythms with elements of jazz, R&B and funk that is hard to resist. Latin jazz fan around the world will rejoice.
A California native, Escovedo was raised in Oakland. His father was an amateur singer and guitarist who passed along a love of Latin music, while young Pete discovered and cultivated a love of jazz largely on his own. Early on, he embraced the Latin jazz style, steadily building a reputation as one of the most popular Latin jazz combos in California as part of The Escovedo Brothers Latin Jazz Sextet.
Pete’s versatility as a Percussionist has been featured in performances and recordings by a wide range of Artists such as Carlos Santana, Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock, Mongo Santamaria, Bobby McFerrin, Cal Tjader, Woody Herman, Stephen Stills, Billy Cobham, Anita Baker, George Duke, Boz Scaggs, Andy Narell, Al Jarreau, Ray Obiedo, Dionne Warwick, Marlena Shaw, Barry White, Angela Bofill, Arturo Sandoval, Poncho Sanchez, Chick Corea, Dave Valentine, Najee, Gerald Albright, Prince, and more.
Pete Escovedo believes that there is healing through music and has donated his time to numerous charity events to help children around the world by teaching the importance of music.
Click here to visit Pete Escovedo’s official website.
With the release of their highly anticipated Woodward Avenue Records project, Southern California’s premiere R&B, funk and contemporary powerhouse band DW3 lets the world in on a cool CD entitled “Vintage Truth.”
Driven by the ever-evolving musical vision of core members – Brothers Eric and Billy Mondragon and close family friend Damon Reel – their deepening artistry continues to transcend a well-earned reputation as a high energy, fun and freewheeling party band. Eric, Billy and Damon all contribute lead and harmony vocals, while Eric plays keys (including synth horns and strings) and Billy adds percussion
Building on the success of their single, “I Got You” featuring Gerald Albright, (#16 on the Billboard charts) and the “On The Floor” album that went #1 on the UK soul charts, DW3 expanded to nine a piece ensemble. The addition of a horn section really sets the tone for their live shows. The truth is in the twelve tracks of their “Vintage Truth” CD. Delivering original vocal tracks along with freshly re-imagined covers of classics like The Eagles’ “I Can’t Tell You Why,” Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing” and Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” the project also includes DW3’s soulful take on The Mamas & the Papas gem “California Dreamin’,” which won the California Lottery Powerball song contest and spawned a popular YouTube video.
DW3 continues to anchor Thursday nights and the 94.7 The Wave Sunday Brunch at Spaghettini’s in Seal Beach and Beverly Hills. The band also entertains festival and cruise-goers several times a year. The versatile ensemble is rapidly emerging as a multi-faceted recording outfit in their own right.
Click here to visit the official DW3 website.
The Crusaders – A Tribute
Joel Gaines is a singer, songwriter, and keyboard artist. He has been entertaining audiences around the world, backing many of the biggies in the music business at one time or another. He played keys with Wayne Henderson and The Jazz Crusaders for several years, and he’s made the rounds in the company of artists such as Kenny G, Rick Braun, Ronnie Laws, Eric Darius, Tom Braxton and Brian Culbertson. Joel has been part of the performing entourage for the likes of Jazz Crusaders, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker, and Chaka Khan just to name a few.
Brian Price is a Canadian guitarist. At the age of fifteen, he moved to San Diego and soon began studying with the great guitarist Peter Sprague. He played with Wayne Henderson’s Jazz Crusaders for more than 15 years. In 1989, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue new opportunities where he began playing with artists such as The Crusaders, John Tesh, The Winans, Max Bennett, Peggy Lee and many others.
Reggie Young, a native of Southern California, started playing his trombone at the age of 12. By the time Reggie turned 14, he had already played his first professional gig with the Henry Grant Big Band featuring Les McCann. During that time Reggie had begun studying privately with world-renowned trombonist George Bohanon. After touring briefly with Ray Charles at the age of 18, Reggie became music director of Off-Broadway plays in the Los Angeles area. Since that time, Reggie’s trombone artistry has taken him around the world numerous time playing for dignitaries, queens and kings, as well as two presidents of the United States. He has also played with Earth Wind and Fire for the last 30 years.
Click here to visit Joel Gaines’ official website.