Black People : Doo-Wop Groups appear at Lehman Center

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Writspirit, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Writspirit

    Writspirit Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    dupreesplattters400.jpg
    By Deardra Shuler
    (Photo of The Duprees and the Platters)

    Although each generation introduces and supports its own brand of music and radio stations play what they deem is music the populace supports, many miss the music of romance. They miss harmony, rhythms, simple lyrics and words that speak of love. The Duprees and groups like Barbara Harris and the Toys, the Belmonts, Larry Chance and the Earls, the Platters and Ragdoll as well as many other groups sang what became known as doo-wop. Doo-wop, while over 50 years old, still attracts audiences and Doo-Wop performers generally pack concert houses. Lehman Center for the Performing Arts can boast their Doo-wop shows are generally a sellout and thus, they have once again brought doo-wop to their stage on Saturday, January 24th at 8:00 pm.

    Doo-wop became famous when groups in the 1940s began harmonizing vocally, mimicking the sounds of the big band era. Young men stood on street corners and harmonized in cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia and cities across the nation. The sound became even more popular throughout the 1950s and ‘60s as its rhythms and use of a cappella free style infused the music market whetting the public’s appetite.

    A music style birthed out of African American neighborhoods, its harmonies even attracted Italian groups who recognized the heart and soul of the music. Built upon vocal harmony, doo-wop consisted of simple lyrics, beats and harmonies, often done a cappella and thus easier to sing and have fun with.

    Tony Testa of the Duprees talked with me about his career and beginnings with the group. “I have vivid memories of the early days of Doo-wop. I got involved with the Duprees around 1964 or ‘1965. After starting as a guitarist I went on to lead the band for a number of years. That is how I got to know the Duprees originally” recalled Testa. “Back then, there were a couple of things that made a perfect blend at the time. There was the fact that these groups had a wonderful knowledge of and appreciation for the music that preceded them; music that came out of the 40s and big band era. The other thing is our hook-up with George Paxton who was the owner of Coed Records. Mr. Paxton came from that big band era so he was the one who integrated that wonderful blend of music reminiscent of the Glenn Miller orchestra behind the youthful exuberant vocals of that time. That melding was so unique it still has great appeal today. It is wonderful to see the faces of the audiences today reacting to music which is over 50 years old,” continued the singer.

    One of the attractions of singing doo-op is that one could simply utilize their natural talents, although some groups had members who studied music. “All you needed was 2 or 3 friends to chime up. We would use a simple harmony like 1, 3, 5. Street corner songs like In the Still of the Night and Hushabye were the types of songs we sang,” remarked the vocalist.

    Groups sang songs that were fun to sing and simple in structure, making it appealing and easy for street corner pickup groups to do. That was the generation of groups like the Duprees, the Vogues and the Lettermen, etc., who evolved rhythms into more sophisticated harmonies later on.

    Many of the African American performers were influenced by singing in church. “I remember vividly a black church around the corner from me. My friends and I would stand outside listening. We really enjoyed the music. It was the type of music that absolutely went through our bones because it was so inviting and so emotional. I think it was the springboard to a lot of my personal appreciation for music,” stated Tony who with his fellow Duprees consisting of Jimmy Spinelli, Tommy Petillo and Phil Granito, replaced the original Duprees Joey Van Canzano, Mike Kelly, John Salvato, Tom Bialoglow, Joe Santollo and Mike Arnone, 3 of whom have passed. However, the current Duprees have been singing together for over 25 years.

    The Duprees made songs famous such as “My Own True Love,” “Take Me As I Am,” “Why Don't You Believe Me,” “Have You Heard,” “Love Eyes,” “It Isn't Fair.” “Let Them Talk” and “You Belong to Me.” “You Belong to Me,” was the song that sky rocked the Duprees to fame.

    Testa discussed how doo-wop earned its name. “You know the term doo-wop is a bit of a misnomer. The term never came about until way past the 1960s with the advent of multi-act shows through the 1970s and into the ‘80s where they put under this umbrella the term doo-wop. Doo-wop describes the street corner singing. They still use the term widely to tag groups that are not really doo-wop at all,” claims Tesla who also expands upon the Duprees’ musical songbook and music variety. Their current recording entitled “Happy 100th Mr. Sinatra” pays tribute to Frank Sinatra.

    Those interested in Doo-wop and who are fans of the Duprees can hear my radio interview with Tony Testa via http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio/2015/01/13/topically-yours--the-duprees-tony-testa . Those who wish to purchase tickets to the Doo-wop show hosted by Johnny Z of WFAS 1230AM, and produced by Sal Abbatiello of Fever Records on Saturday, January 24, 2015, can obtain them at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx, via calling the box office at 718-960-8833 or by going on line via www.LehmanCenter.org.
     
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