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From R&B to Hip-Hop Old School Never Dies

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San Bernardino

Can’t get enough of old school? Who can? From doo-wop groups like the Dells, to the ever-evolving Marvin Gaye, soul, jazz and R&B has forged a permanent mark from movies to the work place.

The beat, the lyrics, the smooth moves of male groups and hip outfits of the females, make up the truly unforgettable music kept alive by fans and artists alive.

Even Disco—a genre music experts said would never die—eventually faded out, making way once more for the real “king.” Of course, hard-core old schoolers have known it all along. And we have artists like GQ to thank for re-making the memories we love to relive.

On Saturday, November 6, 2004, GQ comes to the National Orange Show to show young folks how music is really done. J-Love & the J-Love Band, 7th Avenue and J-Smooth will also perform some of the classics that the 35-plus set has come to love.

Like their predecessor Billy Stewart, GQ burst onto the scene in the late 70’s to make a name for themselves. Known for such hits at “Disco Nights/Rock Freak,” and the Stewart classics “Sitting in the Park” and “I Do Love You,” GQ rocked party houses in the US and abroad. The group has several national top 40 R&B hits to their credit.

Fresh musical arrangements and the unique vocal style of lead singer Emanuel Rahiem LeBlanc blessed the group a distinct sound that soon gained the attention of music critics.

In 1979, GQ won an American Music Award for best disco sound of the year, tying with Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy.”

Twenty years later, the group recorded a tribute to Soul and R&B greats Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart. The masterpiece features such classics as Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and “Distant Lover,” and Stewart’s “I Do Love You” and “Summertime.” LeBlanc wrote four original songs for the album, and currently owns his own Nu Classic Records label.

The soul community mourned the loss of Stewart in 1970 when his car ran off the road and plunged into a river. Fourteen years later, Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his father. But good music doesn’t die. Stewart’s genius was once again appreciated by a new generation of record buyers, when GQ remade "I Do Love You" and "Sitting In The Park." Both songs once again hit top ten on the R&B charts. Gaye’s distinctive style is still being emulated by hip-hop and R&B artists alike.

It’s understandable. Since hip-hop first came on the scene, young artists have borrowed choruses of their old school parents as a backdrop for their own millennium messages. While the “straight sex-no chaser” lyrics of some hip-hop artists leave little to the imagination, old school romanticizes love, courtship, and remains relatively innocent compared to other music forms.

The November 6th show should be a near sell-out, judging from the popularity of these groups. J-Love will captivate women with his performance of old school classics such as his remake of the Stylistics’ “Stop, Look, Listen.” He definitely has the vocals to do it. Described by the Orange County Register as “crowd pleasing,” the bass player and soulful crooner has an octave range that mimics falsetto Phillip Bailey to baritone Barry White.

Local band 7th Avenue will jam the Orange Show will their mix of funk, jazz and soul. Bring those strobe lights and get ready to rock in your platform shoes; the party’s on. While the group has performed mostly in the Inland Empire, their talent is sure to take them to new places.

Like his nickname suggests, J-Smooth is known for making music for contemporary jazz enthusiasts (although his gospel talent ain’t bad either). The Chicago born jazz guitarist has opened for old school jazz legends George Duke and Stanley Clark. His songwriting ability has been compared to Babyface and Eric Clapton.

“Back to Old School Featuring GQ & Friends” is presented by QFX Entertainment, Inc., an event management corporation that promotes quality music entertainment for the mature listener. Last month, another concert was held at the Orange Show featuring Jazz Junkies and J-Smooth, playing genres from jazz, old school and R&B with a touch of Latin sounds. A portion of the proceeds were presented to the County of San Bernardino’s Sheriffs and Fire Departments and the San Bernardino Police Department.

Giving back to the community is something company president Sam Quinn III holds in high esteem. “Our goal is to provide premier entertainment worth your time, effort and money in a relaxed environment. At the same time, we like to honor those men and women who so gallantly give of their time and effort to make their communities better.”

Spring 2005 will see a breakthrough CD release of GQ’s “Mr. Q”. Also, look out for a duet version of their “I Do Love You” with Rapper Shea to be released late this winter. J-Love has co-produced his CD titled “Off the Hook.” “Passion” is the latest release from J-Smooth.

The National Orange Show Events Center is located at 680 S. “E” Street in San Bernardino. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. The concert begins promptly at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. If you are a nonprofit interested in fundraising, a business that wants to distribute tickets for this or future events, or to purchase tickets, call Cornelius Brown at (866) 514-3391.

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