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Published: 2014/10/02
by Marc Shapiro

The Baltimore Soul Revue, WTMD Studios, Towson, MD- 9/13

It’s not every day that music lovers can see a trio of local hit-makers from decades long gone perform together, but on Saturday, Sept. 13, that’s exactly what independent radio station WTMD gave to Baltimore.

The Towson, Maryland-based station hosted The Baltimore Soul Revue, a sold-out show at its studios that paired local soul band The Bellevederes with Baltimore-based soul and R&B singers whose hits go back to the 1960s.

WTMD DJ Scott Mullins kicked off the evening with a live edition of “Dirty Soul Party,” his Saturday night show that features nothing but vintage funk and soul played off of 45s.

The station’s Baltimore music coordinator, Sam Sessa, spent nearly a year putting show together.

“Last year I started doing this feature on WTMD called ‘Baltimore Backtrack,’ where I’d track down old Baltimore musicians and interview them about their heyday,” Sessa said. “Baltimore used to have this amazing soul and R&B scene, and the more I dug into it, the more I realized some of these singers are still alive – and still able to sing.”

The Bellevederes, who played their own material throughout the evening, proved to be the best band for the occasion. With an expert command over the soul and R&B sounds of the 60s and 70s, the band effectively functions as Baltimore’s Dap Kings.

The first performance featured Sheila Ross, who performed the first version of “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” with her group The Royalettes. Winfield Parker, dressed in a white suite with a polka dot tie and handkerchief, performed next. Parker’s resume includes playing saxophone with Little Richard’s band, backing up Otis Redding and working with Bunny Sigler and Gamble and Huff.

Neither of their voices – or dance moves in the case of Parker – had faded with age.

“Winfield and Sheila [hadn’t] performed these songs with a band in Baltimore for a long, long time,” Sessa said.

The Softones, who had never played live on the radio before, wowed the crowd with singer Marvin Brown’s falsetto and choreographed dance moves. Like Ross and Parker before them, The Softones seemed genuinely excited and grateful to be performing for such a lively audience in 2014.

It was an evening of Baltimore music history, with Baltimore artists reborn.

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