Our wonderful sponsors have donated fabulous raffle prizes for our Valentine’s Day fundraiser. Addessi Jewelers has donated a Diamond & Gold pendant: 3 champagne and brown marquis diamonds surrounded by 143 round diamonds, totaling 2.39 carats. The pendant hangs from a 16 inch 14kt white gold cable chain and has a retail value of $5400! Adam Broderick Salon & Spa has donated a “Me Time” package – $750 gift certificate to use on any of their spa and beauty services. BMW of Ridgefield has donated a great Date Night: a night on the town with a BMW and personal driver that includes dinner for two (at Bernard’s) and tickets to a show of your choice at The Ridgefield Playhouse!
In 1964, Khalis Bayyan (AKA Ronald Bell) and his brother, Robert “Kool” Bell, joined Jersey City neighborhood friends Robert “Spike” Mickens, Dennis “Dee Tee” Thomas, Ricky Westfield, George Brown, and Charles Smith to create a unique musical blend of jazz, soul and funk. Over the next several years they solidified their musical chemistry on the rough-and-tumble East Coast music scene supporting acts like Richie Havens and Richard Pryor. Their self-titled 1969 debut album introduced their signature instrumental sound and fierce horn arrangements created by Khalis, Dee Tee, and Spike and spawned their first Billboard R&B charted single, “Kool & the Gang” and later “Let the Music Take Your Mind.” In 1970, their audacious sophomore set Live at the Sex Machine peaked at #6 on Billboard’s R&B chart and yielded three hit singles: “Funky Man,” “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight,” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” Next came The Best Of Kool & the Gang Featuring The Penguin, Kool & the Gang Live at PJ’S, Music Is The Message, and Good Times, all of which helped solidify a sound that wowed not only fans, but such contemporaries as James Brown and Nina Simone. The band’s stellar reputation grew with each album, but 1973’s gold disc Wild & Peaceful took Kool & the Gang to another level (#6 R&B, #33 Pop), spurred by the immortal party anthems “Funky Stuff,” “Hollywood Swinging” and the platinum smash “Jungle Boogie.” Hits like “Higher Plane” (#1 R&B), the classic “Summer Madness” (featured on the Grammy-winning movie soundtrack Rocky) and LPs Spirit of the Boogie, Love & Understanding and Open Sesame followed. The latter’s title track was featured on the top-selling movie soundtrack of all time, Saturday Night Fever, earning the group their second Grammy. In 1979, Kool & the Gang unveiled a smooth new sound with Ladies Night. Produced by the legendary Pop/Jazz musician Eumir Deodato, it became their first platinum album. The ‘80s would see them dominate the mainstream, starting with the double platinum-selling album Celebrate (driven by the international monster hit “Celebration,” which spent six weeks atop the R&B chart and became a #1 Pop single).
With the explosion of hip-hop in the 90’s, Kool & the Gang’s incredible catalog of grooves made them DJ favorites. They were second only to R&B icon James Brown as sources of rap music samples. They have been honored with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2016 were inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Kool’s bass is displayed at the new Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.
For tickets ($175) call or visit the box office, 203-438-5795 or go online at ridgefieldplayhouse.org. The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.
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