By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
3.8.17: Philadelphia– (Politics): The average person who thinks of Philadelphia today might envision cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, skyscrapers and poverty, but there once was a time when the nation’s fifth largest city was synonymous with musical originality and excellence. Nearing the end of the 1960s and throughout the 70s, Philadelphia answered Detroit’s Motown Records, led by Mr. Berry Gordy, with a recording label that birthed some of the most timeless classics ever produced, like the O’Jays’ ‘For the Love of Money’ and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ ‘Wake Up Everybody.’
Philadelphia International Records, the face of which was Mr. Kenny Gamble and Mr. Leon Huff, exist no longer, and its studio’s departure via demolition from Broad Street is, in a way, symbolic of Philadelphia’s removal from the world’s stage as a music leader.
To be clear, the disco era wasn’t the only time Philadelphia was getting shine for the stars birthed and made here, but it is the most studied, discussed and revered. The 1990s, and moving into the 21st Century, Philadelphia gave the world ‘Boyz to Men,’ ‘The Roots,’ Musiq Soulchild, Rachelle Ferrell, Jill Scott, Jasmine Sullivan and many more. And Philadelphia drummers – like Mr. John Roberts, Mr. George “Spanky” McCurdy and Mr. Bernard “Tre” Lambert, III – are today playing for some of the biggest names in the music industry.
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Amazing talent was, and still is, germane to Philly but the spotlight on the City has dimmed and the hype and chatter has hushed some, though the music has by no means been silenced. It’s this reality that a newly formed taskforce created by the local government will have to contend with and reshape.
In February of 2017, with little fanfare, the Philadelphia City Council approved the formation of the music industry task force, which has as its aim to consider the history of the music industry here, evaluate its current state and develop a strategic plan for re-establishing the City as a major player in the business of music.
The unveiling of the task force, which the Mayor of Philadelphia nominated five individuals to, will occur Thursday afternoon at a press conference in City Hall at 3pm.
R&B singer Ms. Carol Riddick and popular local rapper Mr. Eric “Chill” Moody are among those who will serve on the task force. The total number of participants is 15, with 10 of the nominees appointed by the City’s legislative body. After the press conference, which will feature live music performances, the task force will conduct its first meeting in the City Council Caucus Room.
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