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ULTIMATE DOO WOP

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts celebrates its 33rd season with a night of unforgettable Doo Wop featuring this timeless music’s leading singers and groups on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. The all-star evening of classic hits will include Kenny Vance And The Planotones (“Looking For An Echo”), Cleveland Still And The Dubs (“Could This Be Magic”), Herb Cox And The Cleftones (“Heart and Soul”), MAURICE Williams And The Zodiacs (“Stay”) and Barbara Harris And The Toys (“A Lover’s Concerto”).

Doo Wop emerged from the streets of New York City and Philadelphia and rose as a unique African American vocal style in the mid-1950’s. Doo Wop’s smooth harmonies spread to singing groups of other ethnicities, such as the Capris and the Bronx’s own Dion and the Belmonts. The term “doo wop” was taken from the ad-lib syllables sung in harmony in these songs. “Doo Wop” and a range of “oldies” music are celebrated by musicians and audiences worldwide as distinctive American sounds.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY 10468. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718.960.8833 (Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert), or through 24-hour online access at www.LehmanCenter.org. Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd. and is off the Saw Mill River Parkway and the Major Deegan Expressway. Low-cost on-site parking is available.

Kenny Vance and The Planotones: Kenny Vance has been making music since he was fourteen years old and was the co-founder of the group “Jay & The Americans.” After leaving the group in 1972, Kenny branched out, producing records, serving as musical director on TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” and having his own solo career. He was also the musical director on such films as “Hairspray,” “Eddie & The Cruisers,” and “American Hot Wax.” It was in 1978 for the movie “American Hot Wax” that The Planotones were first formed. In 1992, Kenny reformed the group with guitarist/arranger Johnny Gale, vocalists Kurt “Frenchy” Yahjian and Jimmy Bense, keyboardist Chip Degaard and Tony Gallino on drums. They have released four CD’s to date; Teenage Jazz, Out of This World, Looking For An Echo (which was featured in the major motion picture of the same name) and their most recent release (November 2012) Mr. Santa which includes the new holiday songs “Mr. Santa”, “Doo Wop Christmas” and “Christmas On My Block” as well as classic Christmas tunes with rich multi-part harmonies.

Cleveland Still and The Dubs were originally a Harlem-based group founded by the late Richard Blandon in 1957 that also included Bill Carlisle, Tom Grate and Jim Miller. They are best remembered for their enduring Top 40 Doo Wop classic “Could This Be Magic,” one of the more memorable songs of 1957. Their first taste of success came with an East Coast hit “Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely” and quickly hit national recognition when “Could This Be Magic” peaked at #23 on the Pop charts. They followed this with two other great Doo Wop favorites, “Chapel of Dreams” and “Be Sure My Love.”

Herb Cox and The Cleftones were originally formed in 1955 at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York as the Clefs, later becoming known as The Cleftones. In 1955, the group recorded their first single, “You Baby You,” followed by “Little Girl of Mine” and “You’re Driving Me Mad.” They were in Alan Freed’s legendary 1956 “Easter Jubilee of Stars” show at the Brooklyn Paramount. That year they recorded “Can’t We Be Sweethearts” and “String Around My Heart,” and in 1961 they recorded “Heart and Soul.” While the group stopped touring regularly in 1963, The Cleftones reformed for a revival show in New York City in 1970, delighting fans ever since.

Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs were originally called The (Royal) Charms, changing their name to The Gladiolas in 1957 and The Excellos in 1958, before finally settling on The Zodiacs in 1959. Born in Lancaster, S.C. Maurice Williams grew up as a church singer. His first single “Little Darlin’” was covered by The Diamonds who turned it into a 1957 hit, and by Elvis Presley in 1977. Known for their trademark falsettos, the band released their pivotal song “Stay” in 1960 which Williams had written seven years before when he was only 15. They followed up with the soulful recording “May I,” and then “Return,” with Gladys Knight & the Pips singing behind them. “Stay” has became one of the classic singles in the history of rock ‘n roll and R&B, having been rereleased by the Hollies (1963), The Four Seasons (1964), Jackson Browne (1978), Bruce Springsteen (1979), Cyndi Lauper (2003) and in the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.”

Barbara Harris and The Toys: Barbara Harris also started singing in her hometown churches, first in North Carolina and later in Queens, New York, where she moved at age 11. In high school, she became part of a group called The Charlettes that did background vocals for recording artists. Changing their name to The Toys, the group released “A Lover’s Concerto” in 1965, a song that took a classical finger exercise from Bach, and put a Motown bass line to it, and sold over a million copies. Their second hit song “Attack” (1966) was followed by “Sealed With A Kiss” in 1968

Lehman Center is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. The 2012-2013 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, JPMorgan Chase, and through corporations, foundations and private donations.

Updated 5:03 pm, December 24, 2012:
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