17 Jun 2013
- Written by Warren Roseborough
The Elements of the Universe returned to Memphis on Saturday night at the Botanic Garden. If you didn't know, the Elements of which I am referring, they are none other than Earth, Wind and Fire (EWF), one of music's most successful R&B groups from the seventies and eighties. Memphis is the birthplace and childhood home to EWF member and founder Maurice White who retired from touring with the band in the mid-nineties largely due to his diagnosis and complications with Parkinson disease. Despite not touring, he remains a big part of the band behind the scenes producing and composing and certainly remains in the hearts and minds of the group members and audiences alike. Phillip Bailey now sings the lead on most of the songs that Maurice once sung while still holding down his famous high falsettos.
The band took the stage on Saturday night, opening with one of their monster hits, "Boogie Wonderland." Later on in the show the band spoke fondly about Memphis being the home of their former lead singer and founder, White who grew up in South Memphis in the Foote Homes Housing Project.
The band settled into a major jam session playing hit after hit, "In the Stone," "Shining Star," "Reasons," "Got to Get Into My Life" and many more. This sold out concert had nearly the entire crowd dancing and singing throughout the night demonstrating the magic they've always shown in their live performances. The legendary band is celebrating 41 years in the music industry and although they've downsized the touring group over the years they still have that powerful horn section that makes their sound so unique.
Before the concert I interviewed Deano Orr (an International Paper executive and TSD Men of Excellence Award winner) and his wife LaSheka. Obviously a fairly young couple, I asked them what did they know about Earth Wind & Fire? LaSheka stated that she is a second generation EWF fan. She loves their up tempo music. Her mom, aunts, and other relatives always listened to them. Their music was always a presence at their family gathering and cookouts. She is also a graduate of Winston Salem State a historically black college whose band plays a lot of EWF music. Deano said with a big smile, "My wife made me a big EWF fan!"
EWF did not disappoint, Memphis got a treat and I am sure the couple had a fantastic time along with the other concert goers in the Garden!