Teddy Pendergrass, Alma John, The Fatback Band, WRVR, Dr. Helen Johnson, Ed Love, Mahalia Jackson

I try to get to the gym a minimum of two times weekly. Accompanying me, of course, is my iPod with my musical assortment of R&B, Jazz and Gospel musicians. Today, Teddy Pendergrass soul stirring songs flung me back to a 1960s, 1970s, 1980s frame of mind.

In keeping with looking back to the  “Good Old Days, theme” I thought I would republish Routes’ August 1978 issue featuring an interview with Teddy Pendergrass by Wayne Edwards. (Find the entire interview on Pages 7-9)

How many of you remember those good old torch songs like “Lady,” “Turn Off the Lights,” “Close the Door,” The Love I Lost,” “I Miss You,” and “Feel the Fire” as well as “Wake Up Everybody”?—which dealt with perceived societal shortcomings/lethargy. How many of you still remember those blue-light rent-paying parties? Those parties included not only the soul singers like Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Curtis Mayfield, Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, Luther Vandross (A House is not a Home) and Barry White, Bobby Blue Bland, Luther Ingram, just to name a few, but included the not to be forgotten slow song dance Grind ‘m Up.

How times have changed: Last September, I went on a boat ride in New York City and was I surprised that there was not one slow song played during the 3-4 hour cruise. It was surprising, even more so, because the bulk of the boat riders were 40+ years olds.

Does the reign of Hip Hop (It’s now 40 years old.) have anything to do with today’s lack of intimacy on the dance floor? Some of my friends criticize me—many think I give to much power to the Hip Hop movement and its impact on our social life. Last year I asked a twenty if there existed Hip Hop songs that her generation danced intimately to—she said “Yes, there are!”

I’ve asked the friends who criticize my Hip Hop stance if they understood Hip Hop lyrics or if they knew if there was intimacy in Hip Hop tunes? The overwhelming response was “I don’t listen to Hip Hop, so I can’t tell you.”

This topic is complex and emotional for me. I’m concerned about the educational impact of Hip Hop on the younger generation. This generation, on a daily basis, is exposed more to the content of Hip Hop than to what is being taught in the classroom. I’ve asked a Routes (40+ year old) writer to consider writing an article on Hip Hop. I’m hoping that I am not old fashioned and inflexible to modern times—but are torch songs a thing of the past?—I hope not!

Check out other feature stories in the August 1980 Issue.





One Response

  1. Imam Hakim Abdul-Ali
    | Reply

    Well written piece on the late, great Teddy P., a musical figure all should know about, especially his strength and courage in dealing with what he had to after his tragic accident.

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