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On February 11th, 1974, singer, keyboardist, songwriter, guitarist, drummer, producer, bassist, saxophonist, percussionist, and member of The Soulquarians-D’Angelo (Michael Eugene Archer) was born in Richmond, Virginia. D’Angelo comes from a religious background. His father was a Pentecostal preacher. He got his start on piano when he was three, and formed his own band Michael Archer & Precise in the late 1980s. In 1991, they won three consecutive amateur nights at The Apollo (Harlem, NYC). After this D’Angelo returned to Richmond, joined an R&B/Hip Hop group called IDU (Intelligent, Deadly But Unique), before leaving them to start focusing on his own album.
In 1993, D’Angelo signed to EMI and started writing for others. He scored a hit with U Will Know for the super R&B group Black Men United (featuring Usher, R. Kelly, Gerald LeVert, Brian McKnight, Boys II Men, and Raphael Saadiq). He conducted them at The Soul Train Music Awards that year, and also wrote Overjoyed for The Boys Choir of Harlem. In 1995, he released his debut LP Brown Sugar on EMI Records, which laid the foundation for a new sound emerging in the R&B world during the mid 90s called Neo Soul. The entire LP is tight, and it set the tone for many things to come. D’Angelo’s career took off after this release, and went into hyperspace in 2000 when he released Voodoo on Virgin Records. D’Angelo turns 45 today.
On February 11th, 1950, singer, songwriter, former member of The Debonettes, and lead singer for the Deep House vocal trio called First Choice-Rochelle Fleming (c) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fleming was raised in Philly and started singing in the church. By her teens, she had become a member of an all-female vocal group called The Debonettes. Members included Annette Guest, Wardell Piper and Fleming (below-c). They performed around town, and recorded a few sides before meeting producer Norman Harris via DJ Georgie Woods in 1971. They changed their name to First Choice, and Harris produced their first single This Is The House (Where Love Died) in 1972.
They followed that up with their debut LP Armed And Extremely Dangerous in 1973 on Philly Groove Records. In 1974 they released The Player, which made the R&B Top 40 and the Pop Top 200. Fleming remained the lead singer for the group, despite personnel changes during the 70s. Some of their classic cuts include: Let No Man Put Asunder, Love Thang, Hold Your Horses, Dr. Love, & Double Cross. Their sound was so distinct, soulful, and consistently dance driven. Fleming’s soulful vocals had a major influence on the creation of house, neo soul, and hip hop music. She’s 69 today.
On February 11th, 1942 singer, pianist, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer, and apprentice to Guitar Slim-(Otha) Leon Haywood was born in Houston, Texas. He started playing piano when he was three, and became a fan of the blues a bit later. In the mid to late 1950s, Haywood was a high school teen working as a musician for Guitar Slim. In the early 1960s, he left Houston and moved further west to LA. He joined Big Jay McNeely’s band, and recorded his first single Without A Love on Swingin’ Records. McNeely was a saxophonist and arranged the instrumental number for the young Haywood.
Leon went on to release his debut LP The Mellow Mellow Leon Haywood on Galaxy Records in 1964. He recorded two more LPs in the 60s, before signing to 20th Century Fox in 1973. Haywood’s career was solidified through the 1970s and early 1980s. Each of his 20-plus singles, released from 1965 to 1984, charted on the Billboard R&B Top 100-although only two were Top 10 hits (Don’t Push It Don’t Force It & I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You). The latter is best known among crate diggers, and was made infamous by Dr. Dre when he used it for Nuthin’ But A G Thang. Haywood also penned Carl Carlton’s She’s A Bad Mama Jama. Leon was 74 when he passed away in 2016.
On February 11th, 1941, one of the most slept on jazz musicians of the modern era, Brazilian music icon, bandleader, sideman, composer, arranger, producer, pianist, and Latin Jazz Innovator-Sergio (Santos) Mendes was born in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mendes worked with notables like Stevie Wonder and Herb Alpert. He is a legendary jazz musician who recorded several LPs as a bandleader of Brasil ’65, ’66, ‘77 and ’86. He uses elements of his native music (Bossa Nova, Samba & Afro-Brazilian rhythms) supplemented with vocals and a hard bop and fusion jazz foundation.
Sergio originally wanted to be a classical pianist and studied at the conservatory near his home; but after hearing American Jazz artists (during his teens), he switched his direction and delved deep into jazz. By the late 1950s, Mendes was touring with Antonio Carlos Jobim (serving as Mendes’ mentor). In 1961 he formed his own sextet-Sexteto Bossa Rio. They released their debut LP Dance Moderno in 1961 on Phillips Records. Mendes toured The States and Europe, during the early to mid 1960s, working with musicians like Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Mann. He linked with Herb Alpert in the mid 60s, and they sustained a musical recording relationship for the next 10 years (1965-1975). The Three-Time Grammy Winner is 78 today.
HONORABLE MENTION: On February 11th, 2012, we lost a the amazing singer, songwriter, actress, reality TV show star, cousin of Dionne Warwick, daughter of Cissy Houston, and spouse of Bobby Brown-Whitney (Elizabeth) Houston. TOV covered her birthday in the August 9th post. Please refer to it for more information. There’s no amount of adequate words that can be used to describe the contributions Whitney made to music and pop culture overall. She was an award-winning artist that was riddled with controversy and contradictions like all people. Whitney humanized her celebrity status, while still maintaining her diva ranking. She was 48 years old, when she passed in Beverly Hills, CA.
On February 11th, 1985, London, England was hosting its 4th Annual Brit Music Awards ceremony. Prince won Best International Act and Best Soundtrack for his classic LP Purple Rain. Duran Duran won Best British Video for Wild Boys. Wham! won best British group-while The Police raked in the Outstanding Contribution To British Music Award. Frankie Goes To Hollywood won the award for Best British Single (Relax), Paul Young won Best British Male Solo Singer, and Alison Moyet won Best British Female Solo Singer. Sade killed all competitors winning the Best British Album award for Diamond Life.
On February 11th, 1981, singer, songwriter, actress, and former member of Destiny’s Child-Kelly Rowland (Kelendria Trene Rowland) was born in Atlanta, GA. She’s sold nearly 100 million records between Destiny’s Child (60 million+) and her solo work (30 million+). She started with Girl’s Tyme, who appeared on Star Search in the late 1980s and lost. They later morphed into Destiny’s Child in the early 90s, and blew up on the commercial market shortly thereafter. She went on to have a successful solo recording and acting career. Kelly is 38 today.
On February 11th, 1979, singer, actress, businesswoman, R&B Icon, first cousin of Snoop Dogg, most likely Kobe Bryant’s first real love, older sister of Ray J and star of the TV sitcom Moesha-Brandy (Rayana Norwood) was born in McComb, MS. First of all, hats off to Brandy for always sharing the spotlight with a slew of people through her music: MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Ray J, and Boyz II Men. Also, strong shout out for her doing the same with actors like Larenz Tate, William Allen, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. She’s been in the game for decades and shows no signs of easing up. Brandy is 40 today.
For more information on any musician or event reviewed in posts, or for additional information on The Wandering Eyes Blog overall, use the search bar and search the artist or event using keywords. It’s like a Google search for the site. A myriad of information, covering several topics exists on this site going back to 2013 when it was created. PEACE