There was laughter, tears and lots of “singing a long” on New Year’s Eve 2016 in Harlem, New York as Norman Connors and the regal Jean Carn performed the love sound track of a generation or two. On that evening, we witnessed Norman Connors’ music that sold millions and garnered Grammy nominations such as “You Are My Star Ship,” “This Is Your Life” and “Betcha By Golly Wow.”
The New Year’s Eve audience included television producers, other known artists and network news consultant Dr. Jeff Gardere, who after the show, shared his memories of how much the music of Connors and Carn meant to him.
In the early 1960’s, Norman Connors left Philadelphia his hometown, as a teenager on his way to New York, to attend medical school and become a doctor. Instead, he ended up a student at Julliard, an in-demand Jazz drummer and a close friend to his long-time mentor Miles Davis.
Connors went on to become the first African American to sign with ARISTA records. Clive Davis (the head of the label at the time) recognized Connors’ unique talent as a producer, composer and arranger and that he also had the uncanny ability to find and discover phenomenal singers such as Phyllis Hyman, Eleanor Mills and Jean Carn and then bring them to the national spotlight.
He is a perfectionist and a quintessential musician who demands not only that his vocalist be the best but that their accompanists like Onaje Allen Gumbs, Marion Meadows and Norman Brown (to name an exceptional few) are ultra-talented as well. It’s no small wonder that after Connors’ repeating achievement of platinum, gold and top of the chart records, several members of his band were also offered recording contracts by ARITSA and other prominent labels so that they could launch their own solo star-studded careers.
Well, the rest as they say is a history that many of us listen to and love by. On Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, the Norman Connors’ Starship connection featuring Duke Jones on trumpet, Hymie on congas, Tony Jones on bass, Greg Rich on keyboard, Lawrence Gravely on drums and special guest vocalist Marva King rocked the house, people stood and danced by their tables as they listened to hit after hit.
The date was further enhanced by promotional partnerships with Aloft Harlem Hotel (where the artists say “our stay was more than comfortable and the service and staff were great), Black Opal Cosmetics infused glamour to those involved and Fabulous by Roz along with Miss Jessie’s Hair Care, provided lovely gifts as well! All in all, it was an evening of holiday cheer and sweet soul music as the audience began to reminisce through the Norman Connors song book they were then joyfully entertained by Jean Carn and her big hits such as “Free Love,” “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head” and “Closer Than Close.”