With love in the air, the Liacouras Center will host its Valentine’s Day Soul Jam on Feb. 10 featuring The Stylistics, The Temptations Review with Dennis Edwards, The Main Ingredient and The Whispers, one of R&B music’s most consistently popular vocal groups.
The Whispers began their career in 1963 when twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott joined a couple of friends to form a local singing group, performing tight harmonies on the street corners in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and later in nightclubs in the San Francisco area.
“Growing up,” says Walter Scott, “our father was pretty much of a jazz fanatic. He especially liked the music of people like Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. Our dad tried to influence us, but because of the generational difference, I think we migrated more toward R&B. He didn’t like that, and thought that jazz was the only legitimate form of music. But we went the other way because we were no different than other kids in the ’60s.”
With music at the heart of everything they did and wanted to do in those early years, the little group eventually landed at Dore Records, where they got the name The Whispers by Lou Bedell of Dore Records, because of their “soft sound.”
Says Walter Scott, “We originally came to Dore Records just to back up a guy who was looking for a record deal. But once Lou heard us sing, saying our music sounded like a whisper, which is how we got our name, he decided to take us on as a group.”
That decision proved fruitful for all. The newly named Whispers recorded nine singles for the Dore label between 1964 and 1967. Later, in 1969, they released “The Time Will Come” for a small L.A. based label Soul Clock Records, and subsequently recorded their first Top 10 R&B hit, “Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong.”
Over the next two decades, The Whispers produced a string of hits, racking up one gold album after another, and charting numerous R&B hits throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
Their first platinum album, “The Whispers” (1980) highlighted “A Song For Donny,” written in memory of Donny Hathaway, and their biggest hit titled “And The Beat Goes On.” The neoclassic “Lady,” is still a favorite at concerts, as other timeless songs just seemed to get better and better.
Scott believes people are still mesmerized by the songs they made over 40 years ago because the music of The Whispers was romantic as opposed to today’s music. “We believed in love and romance, and talked about how that made our lives so much better. And we still talk about that today, about how long a love can last. Today’s music, however, is pretty graphic, and years ago we couldn’t have gotten away with what they talk about today.”
Acknowledging that their many gold and platinum albums are career highlights, Scott says the biggest highlight has always been “the appreciation of our fans. And as we get older we develop a real sense for it. We think we are the luckiest guys in the world. Here we are, doing something we would gladly do for free and yet being paid to do it. We feel so blessed because none of us every dreamed forty years ago we’d be doing what we truly love to do. But here we are.”
The Whispers’ four decades of accomplishments were acknowledged when they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. In 2005, The San Francisco Chapter of the Grammy Awards presented The Whispers with the prestigious Governors Award. And Scott says the group will continue to perform as long as possible.
“We’d still like to do a couple more CDs, our latest being a gospel album on a small Chicago label. We are very proud of that because it’s something we always wanted to do. We have many other plans at this point and feel we are still blessed to be able to put on a great show. But from a realistic point of view we know we can‘t go on doing this forever. So when it comes time when we are not as effective as we are today, we will leave the business. We just hope we’re able to recognize that time when it comes,” Scott says.
For times and ticket information, call (800) 298-4200.