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Earth, Wind & Fire Light Up the Stage

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By Lea Michele Cash

The soul, funk, gospel, blues, rock and jazz train left the station recently on Thursday, at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.  Every individual that jumped aboard was in for a heck of a ride.  Earth, Wind & Fire, (EWF) the legendary soul group, noted for energetic rhythms, sultry love songs, feel-good vibes and positive uplifting lyrics, lit up the stage with a glittering 13 piece band ensemble.

Earth, Wind & Fire: Verdine, Ralph & Philip.
Hands were waving and folks were dancing in the aisles to Earth, Wind & Fire's classic hit songs "Shining Star", "Sing a Song", "Let's Groove", "Got to Get You Into My Life" and "After the Love has Gone."  It didn't matter who you were or where you came from, the cross-cultural and cross-generational musical group, had everybody on their feet. 

EWF was formed in 1969 under the leadership of bandleader, Maurice White. For over 39 years, EWF tours and concert performances have taken them around the world spanning the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America.  Verdine White, Maurice's brother and Philip Bailey are founding members of the legendary group and graced the Inland Empire with their presence along with talented performer and musician Ralph Johnson.

Verdine, known for his dance moves and high energy on stage while playing a variety of colorful bass guitars, did not disappoint swinging his long hair.  His performance was unforgettable as he flashed that world famous wide smile.   He was classically trained by Radi Velah of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and studied bass guitar with the late Louis Satterfield who died in 2005. Verdine is noted to be one of the greatest bass stylist, in pop culture history.

Philip and Ralph together

Philip Bailey, the long standing vocalist of the group, is noted to have a vast dynamic vocal range which was demonstrated in grand effect during the concert performance. When the legendary group took a stroll down memory lane and the first few cords of "Reasons" started up, the audience went bananas and Philip truly demonstrated his talents.

Feeling pretty good, Philip hit some vocal chords, even one of his band members, after the concert said, "I perform with Philip and on some occasions, I don't know where he pulls those octaves from. Tonight, Philip...just out did himself."

Over the years, EWF has accomplished and garnished countless awards with 17 million records sold worldwide.  They have received Grammys, American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, ASCAP Awards and the BET Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 1995, they were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 2000 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Last year the world watched as the band played a medley of their hits as the opening act for Fox's sensational broadcast of "Idol Gives Back" which raised millions of dollars for children in Africa.  Then, if that wasn't enough, the legendary group was asked to perform live for the world again, at the December, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. 

The group is so well loved in the Inland Empire, that their after concert memorabilia tee-shirts and accessories etc... sold out.  Ralph Johnson told the crowd, anyone who is a EWF fan should go to their website because they are known for giving free tickets to concerts and backstage access to their fans.

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