THE EBONYS were from Camden NJ and comprised Jenny Holmes, David Beasley, James "Booty" Tuten and Clarence Vaughan. Formed in 1969, the group was discovered by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and recorded consistently for their Philadelphia International Records label in the early 70s, but achieved only two sizeable hits on the R&B charts, "You're The Reason Why" (number 10 R&B, number 51 pop) from 1971, and "It's Forever" (number 14 R&B, number 68 pop) from 1973. The group recorded for Buddah in 1976 with little success, with only a minor single, "Making Love Ain't No Fun (Without The One You Love)" (number 83 R&B), making the charts. It was their last chart record. The Ebonys disbanded in 1976.
The Ebonys sound was based on their Dells-styled approach of baritone lead with answering falsetto second lead. Booty Tuten's baritone is reminiscent of that heard on the Gamble and Huff productions of the O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, and Tteddy Pendergass.
Of their albums the better of these was the groupís self-titled debut, the only collection it recorded for Gamble and Huffís Philadelphia International. Released in 1973, the album was largely a hit-and-miss affair, though its highs rivaled those of the premier Philly Soul outfits. Itís Forever easily could have become mired in its overwrought orchestrations and saccharine lyrics, but instead the ensemble lifted the song out of the muck with an impassioned vocal performance that was pure magic. Likewise, Life in the Country explored some intriguing grooves courtesy of backing band MFSB ó the same group behind The OíJaysí Ship Ahoy and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notesí Wake Up Everybody. Elsewhere, Iím So Glad Iím Me was a masterful piece of Motown-influenced pop, while both Hook Up and Get Down and Sexy Ways carried a grittier feel than most Gamble and Huff projects. Dotted with horn-splashes, the loose arrangements of these songs suited The Ebonys just fine. The remainder of the album was routine fare, barely saved by the groupís shimmering vocals. Four bonus tracks have been tacked on to the recent reissue: the perky Do You Like the Way I Love, the minor hit Determination (which never appeared on an album by The Ebonys), the terrifically funky Do It, and a forgettable edited version of Itís Forever.
David Beasley put together a new group of Ebonysin the mid 1990s, shortly after the death of James "Booty" Tuten.
Twenty-five years ago The Ebonys brought the soulful Philadelphia sound to a nation. Today, lead singer David Beasley is ready to introduce the great music of The Ebonys to a new age. With William "Smoke" Howard, Nate Cephas, and Toni Ford, Beasley has assembled three dynamic singers with distinctive styles and versatility that brings new life to the sound of Philadelphia.
After Philadelphia International Records signed Beasley and The Ebaonys to thier first recording contract in 1974, the Philadelphia sensations went on to release two albums, one of which reached the top of th pop charts. With such great hits as "It's Forever", "I Believe" and "Determination", The Ebonys made thier mark on the music world. Even today, the love for their hits remains strong.
In 1995 Sony Records along with Collectible Records released a CD titled "It's Forever" in the United States and Japan. In 1996 Platinum Classic Records released the "Grove Me" CD also featuring "It's Forever". WDAS Radio Station of Philadelphia recently released a CD titled "WDAS Classic Love Songs" and once again the hit song "It's Forever" was featured. Tune in the radio from Philadelphia to the Far East, and the sweet sounds of The Ebonys can still be heard.
And now David Beasley and the new Ebonys are ready to slam the 90s with a dose of the great hits that made them famous and a host of new releases that promise to soar to the top of the charts.
David Beasly, born and raised in Camden NJ, has been making music all his life. Beginning from the early years when he harmonized in the hallways at Woodrow Wilson High Scool to the glory days of the Ebonys' #1 hits, Beasley has been creating the sounds people love. With his vocal and choreographic skills, Beasley laid out the routines ans simultaneously managed to add drama, humor, and energy to the group's performance as the "on stage spokesman". As the driving force behind the original Ebonys, Beasley eventually took his tenor voice on the road to pursue his solo career. With regular gigs at Harrah's Marina Hotel and Casino, Caeser's Casino, Trump Plaza, and The Showboat in Atlantic City, Beasley hasn't stopped honing his skills.
William Howard, a veteran crooner in his own right, has been an entertainer for more than 30 years. Howard, better known as "Smoke", gives the Ebonys' sound the gritty edge and soulful body that sticks with you. Howard's rugged voice is part of the powerful sound that distinguishes many of the Ebonys' songs and will surely raise a goose bump or two. A native of Bristol, Tenn., he led and managed a number of bands including South Jersey's "Black Smoke". You can also hear Howard on "Freakin Time" by Asphalt Jungle, which hit Billboard charts. A former owner of Swing City Recording Enterprises of Philadelphia PA with fellow Ebony Nate Cephas, the duo has penned the soon-to-be released song, "That's Forever".
Nate Cephas, from Chester PA, is a formally trained vocalist and guitarist with more than 30 years of experience in the music business. Cephas, who sings baritone and 2nd tenor, is the glue that holds the Ebonys' harmonies together. But his ear for music reaches far beyond his vocal range. Cephas, along with longtime friend Howard, is an accomplished songwriter. The writing duo's latest song, "That's Forever", promises to be a No. 1 hit. Not only has Cephas done his share of singing and writing over the years, but the music veteran has also spent time behind the scenes as a manager of other artists and co-owner of Swing City Recording Enterprises of Philadelphia.
Toni Ford, from Newark, NJ is the newest member of The Ebonys. A 10 year veteran of singing, Ford has a vocal range that spans from sweet soprano to throaty alto. from the early days in her high school gospel choir to her work with a female group out of Philadelphia for three years, Ford has worked hard honing her skills. This sexy diva adds the spice to the Ebony's classic hits as well as the jam to the new releases.
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