Ron Williams


“He is my role model – my idol!” says Ron Williams. The Munich-based entertainer has immersed himself in the art of the grandmaster of soul more than anybody else. The SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE is particularly proud to present Ron Williams – The Spirit of Ray Charles. Made famous by his TV-appearances, the star was fascinated by the concept, the artists and the music of the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE. Notwithstanding his many obligations (for example the new production “Finally Free! – The Nelson Mandela Story”), he embraced the opportunity to be part of the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE as a host and singer. His dearest wish was to perform Ray Charles songs in the revue himself.

Let´s not forget that he has been portraying the soul legend since 2005, in the musical "Ray Charles – The Genius of Soul". In the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE he will sing Georgia, Unchain My Heart, and of course the Ray Charles megahit What’d I Say.

Ray Charles


The story of soul music begins with Ray Charles. The singer, piano player and composer from Georgia sets the “soul train” off with his magic formula: gospel + blues = soul! I Got A Woman is the first title to be created according to this formula, and it has huge impact on post-war US culture, hitting like a musical bomb. African-American soldiers returning from World War II find that the music perfectly expresses their newly developed confidence.

An extraordinary success story unfolds. The movie “Ray” introduced the soul icon´s story to a huge global audience. Born into poverty, a heroin addict for almost two decades – and yet, he refuses to be categorized. He remains undefeated by countless knock-backs, by racism, and by controversies. He dies in 2004 – already a legend in the music business. Georgia even becomes the anthem of his home state, even though he had not been allowed to perform there for ten years.

Jimmy James


The U.S. army brings Jimmy to Heidelberg in 1962, where he meets Klaus Gassmann. The legendary Wilson Pickett concert in Frankfurt in February 1968 ignites the spark. Gassman knows that there is nothing else for him – he has to make soul music, and it has to be with Jimmy James. Initially with “Back On Stage” and later with “Soulfinger”.

Jimmy James came to soul through gospel and has lost none of his expressiveness, on the contrary. Whether singing the songs of James Brown or Otis Redding, Jimmy James always produces authentic “old school” soul. Jimmy James presents Sweet Soul Music (Arthur Conley), If You Don’t Know Me By Now (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes), Man’s World and I Feel Good (James Brown) and Ain´t Too Proud To Beg (The Temptations) as a soloist. He is also one of the artists performing the Four Tops and The Temptations medleys in the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE.

Arthur Conley


Already as a teenager Arthur Conley sings in the clubs of Georgia, where Otis Redding hears him and signs him on the spot. Together they re-write Sam Cooke`s not so well-known song Yeah Man and change the title to Sweet Soul Music. In 1967 it becomes one of the biggest soul hits ever. Otis sees in the younger Conley a kind of musical son and Conley worships Otis as a role model.

During Stax´s first concert in Europe, conflicts erupt over Otis Redding´s apparent favoring of Conley. Stax´s other soul stars, Sam & Dave and Booker T, for example, are unhappy. The concerts in England are a sensation. Unfortunately, Otis Redding dies in a plane crash shortly afterwards, and even though Arthur lands another big hit with Funky Street, his career does not really take off after the death of his patron. In 1988 he reappears in Amsterdam under the name of Lee Roberts, attempting a musical comeback. Although unsuccessful, he keeps performing in oldie shows until his death in 2003.

Laeh Jones


Another artist from Motown’s home Detroit, Laeh Jones was steeped in soul from birth. Her father Warren Harris was a singer in the Motown group The Monitors, famous for their hits Greetings This Is Uncle Sam and Say You. Her mother, too, was a singer. Laeh herself is a former member of the gospel group Witness, winner of the Stellar Award and nominee of many others, among them a Grammy. With this group she toured the US for more than 14 years. In addition to this, she performed in many shows and musical theatre productions, as well as with artists such as Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Ann Nesby and many more.

Today Laeh lives in Kaiserslautern and has been with the  SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE since 2010. She is also a member of the group NE Kombination, working in the genres of jazz, R&B, classic soul, pop and gospel.

Etta James


?Etta James` gift to soul was sex!?, headlines ?DIE WELT? newspaper on her 70th birthday. Her first solo single kicks off a discussion about obscenity in music. In his book "Blues Odyssey" Bill Wyman sums up her situation: ?If blues is about love and loss, Etta wrote the soundtrack?. Certainly, she never really manages to get rid of the blues in her life, which is full of ups and downs.

Between 1960 and 1967 she lands numerous hits like At Last and Tell Mama. Her heroin addiction stands in the way of a big breakthrough, but in 1974 she goes into rehab, manages a defiant comeback and creates her most mature works. And finally the longed-for and well-earned recognition arrives: Hall of Fame, Grammy, Living Blues Award, engagements at the Montreux Jazz Festival and so on. Etta James was diagnosed with Alzheimer?s disease and leukemia and died on January 20, 2012 in Riverside, California at the age of 73.

Daniel Stoyanov


Only You – every time Daniel Stoyanov sings this 1955 classic by The Platters in the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE, a collective sigh fills the venue.

Daniel Stoyanov is born in Bulgaria into a family of artists, but immigrates to Germany with his parents when he is four years old. This charismatic young man discoveres his love for music at a young age. He starts writing his own lyrics at the tender age of 11 and appears on the MTV show “Kitchen” as a 13-years-old. A natural talent, he interprets his songs with a unique and stunning soul-voice. He is a man of initiative, simply showing up at the door of the Naidoo-Herberger Production Söhne Mannheims door, where he finds a positive reception and subsequent support. Daniel continues to perform with Xavier Naidoo and, in 2008, finally releases his first album Draußen vor der Tür. Klaus Gassmann discovered Daniel in 2006, and he has since been a member of the Sweet Soul Music Revue ensemble.

Sam Cooke


Sam Cooke´s charm and charisma, along with his breathtaking voice make him a star in the gospel scene. Under the influence of J. W. Alexander, the `Godfather of Soul`, he makes the leap into a career in worldly music. The release of his single You Send Me marks his breakthrough and he becomes one of the greatest singers of all time. He produces Stand By Me, which, sung by Ben E. King, becomes a worldwide hit, and It’s All Over Now, which goes on to be successfully covered by numerous rock bands. 

However, it is not until 1964 that Cooke releases a track through which will make him immortal: A Change Is Gonna Come. It remains an insider tip, but decades later, after his death, it becomes the anthem of the new America. On December 11, 1964, Sam Cooke is shot by the owner of a motel. 200,000 fans attend his funeral and Ray Charles sings the gospel song Angels Keep Watching Over Me.

Sam & Dave


Alligator shoes, perfectly fitting suits, sunglasses – dressed up and cool! Their shows are hot though. Sam & Dave’s show is one “of the most meticulously planned attractions in pop music”, according to the New York Times in 1968. Their income of approximately $1.5 million per year is mostly spent on a star-worthy lifestyle. In the 1960s, Sam & Dave are soul superstars.


Their hit Soul Man becomes Sam & Dave´s trademark. Isaac Hayes and David Porter play a major role in the duo`s success: the two composers write their hits Hold On I’m Coming, Soul Man, You Don’t Know, Something Is Wrong With My Baby, Soothe Me, Soul Sister, Brown Sugar and many more. In 1968 Sam & Dave lost move to Atlantic Records and lose this crucial support from the team at their old label, Stax. Their success fades, drugs and debts follow, and this in turn led to quarrels. The star ensemble parts company in 1970.

Waldo Weathers


Having been a member of the legendary James Brown Band for 15 years, Sir Waldo Weathers is another guarantor for the authenticity in the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE. As successor of Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker, he serves the “Godfather of Soul” and shares the stage with him until three days before his death. Along with Michael Jackson and others, he takes part in the “Farewell Soul Party” for the titan of soul in Augusta.

Waldo is from Kentucky and enters the soul scene not through gospel, but via "Rhythm & Blues" instead. The Nashville Music Guide lists Waldo Weathers as best R&B saxophonist. He plays with Dr. John, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard und Bo Diddley, among many others. As well as his saxophone solos in our SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE, Sir Waldo Weathers will also sing Shotgun (Jr. Walker), Cold Sweat (James Brown) and he is part of the Temptations medley.

James Brown


Like no other artist before, James Brown takes soul back to its African roots. Thus, he lays the foundations for funk, rap, and the overwhelming commercial success of African-American superstars today. Michael Jackson, Prince as well as Miles Davis, all name James Brown as their inspiration.

James Brown is the sound of “black is beautiful”. “Say it loud - I’m black and I’m proud!” - he drums it into the African American youth´s consciousness. His song Sex Machine is a musical fuse, igniting the 1968 cultural revolutions in Europe. Notwithstanding the glamour and the scandals, James Brown is the self-proclaimed but rightful "Godfather of Soul". Not just because he influenced and inspired countless musicians, but mainly because he honestly and passionately campaigned for African Americans to be able to walk tall and proud. A large share of his 200 million fortune went to a foundation which provides music education to children living in ghettos.

Marites Dabasol Smith


Lady Dynamite” – with a her own spirit and charm, SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE’s own Tina Turner twirls across the stage. Tess, born in the Philippines, starts her career as a dancer and choreographer on Philippine TV. This is where this “little dancing typhoon” is discovered by The Commodores for their "Nightshift-Asia-Tour". Tess works for Cindy Lauper and Kenny Loggins, and subsequently tours throughout the U.S., starring in musicals, variety shows and as a dancer in Las Vegas.

Since then, soul and love have brought her to Germany. With her own Tina Turner Tribute Show she tours across Europe. As part of the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE, Tess performs Wilson Pickett’s´ Land Of 1,000 Dances and Ike & Tina Turner’s hits: Proud Mary, Nutbush City Limits and naturally River Deep – Mountain High.

Ike & Tina Turner


With Ike & Tina, Sweet Soul Music begins to develop into a modern show. Their music is the bridge from soul to rock. In 1960 Ike & Tina record their first song together, A Fool In Love, which is followed by It’s Gonna Work Out Fine and the first Grammy nomination. Their success with singles however is nothing compared to the triumphant success of their revue. River Deep – Mountain High in 1966 marks the beginning of real fame. Some years later, the international significance of Ike & Tina is re-confirmed with Proud Mary and Nutbush City Limits. Grammy Award, Hall of Fame, supporting act for the Rolling Stones Tour, these are just some of the highlights in their career as a duo.

However, in 1976 Tina escapes her abusive husband after a show, files for divorce, waives her rights to any kind of alimony, and starts her solo career. She has received eight Grammys as a solo artist so far and is at present considered to be the most successful female singer in the world.

Edward Wade


Edward Wade, born in Nashville, Tennessee, began his career as a professional soul singer when he was 17 years old, performing in different venues, at weddings, in hotels, at corporate gigs and festivals.

In the 1980s he worked as a studio artist for the Buena Vista record label and then performed as support act for, among others, The Temptations and Cameo and the Chi-lites, followed by engagements  as lead singer for Waldo Weather & the Mix, Tony Coleman and the BB Kings House Rockers, The Drifters and the Four Tops. He performed on stage for the tribute show Sonomar in Majorca and also pursues a successful career as a solo artist.

The Four Tops


Vocal groups, like The Drifters, have a long tradition in U.S. entertainment culture. The Four Tops have carried on this tradition for five decades, with an almost unchanged line up. Schoolmates Levi Stubb, Lawrence Payton, Renaldo ?Obi? Benson and Abdul ?Duke? Fakir form the ensemble in 1953. Berry Gordy discovers their great potential. He signs The Four Tops to Motown in 1964, where the authors Holland, Dozier and Holland (HDH) write hit after hit for the quartet like Sugar Pie Honey Bunch or Reach Out I?ll Be There.

The Four Tops sound changes when HDH leave Motown, becoming rather more concertante. While not able to live up to their earlier successes, the remain part of the black ?Show-Establishment?. Their song Are You Man Enough is produced for the movie ?Shaft?. They make it again into the top ten in 1989 with Loco in Acapulco.

Gladys Knight & the Pips


The group Gladys Knight & the Pips mark the beginning of “new soul” after the classical, golden era of soul. The quintet is a family business: Gladys, her older brother, her sister and two of her cousins. Whistle My Heart is the quintet´s first single, released in 1957. The band tour as a supporting act for B.B. King and Sam Cooke. Motown signs them in 1966. They produce hit songs like Friendship Train and If I Were Your Woman, and in 1967 I Heard It Through The Grapevine tops it all off by achieving 2.5 million sales. The 1969 song Midnight Train To Georgia shows an amazing musical maturity. In 1974, the group´s outstanding work is honored by two Grammys.


But the success doesn´t last. Gladys suspects Motown of withholding royalties and changes labels, signing with Columbia Records. The ensuing court case drives the group apart. Gladys goes on to work on solo projects and acting roles. The "Empress of Soul” is a successful solo artist.

Motown


Record labels play a vital role in the history of the Sweet Soul Music. One company in particular wrote global music history – Motown. In 1959 Berry Gordy jr. founds Motown in the garage of his house in Detroit. His seed capital is $800. During Motown´s best years, 30 % of all American top ten hits are produced at the pop-magician´s studio in Detroit.

Berry Gordy wants to develop young black artists and make them successful. He wants to make black soul which (also) appeals to whites. During Motown’s prime, it has artists such as The Marvelettes, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson Five under contract. By the end of the 60s it was the most successful company run by African Americans in the U.S. Motown proved conclusively that the 20th century world sounds more modern because of black artists and their music.

The Temptations


In 1960, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, Elbridge “Al” Bryant, Eddie Kendricks und Melvin Franklin form The Temptations in “Motor-Town“ Detroit to conquer the Olympus of soul. Most of their songs are written by Motown’s Vice-President, Smokey Robinson, and many of them are well-known to this day: My Girl, Since I Lost My Baby, Ain´t Too Proud To Beg or the No. 1 hit Just My Imagination. In 1973 Williams is found dead in his car close to the Motown office. Bad health, marriage problems, and $80,000 of debt with the IRS led him to shoot himself.

To save the group, they are ordered to change their sound. In 1972 they landed another huge hit with Papa Was A Rolling Stone, which catapults The Temptations to the height of their career. Then things go downhill. The group and record labels keeps changing, and there are drug problems. Nowadays, Dennis Edwards carries on the name and legend as a show band.

Derrick Alexander


Very Superstitious…….! When Derrick Alexander is sings this Stevie Wonder song, it is hard to believe it is not the blind grand master of soul himself. This very pleasant person and singer is born in the Motown city Detroit. His singing career starts in a gospel choir. As one of the best gospel singers in the U.S., he is called to be part of the “United States Army Europe Soldier Chorus”, where Klaus Gassmann discovers him for his SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE. In the revue, Derrick is responsible for the polyphonic arrangements.

Derrick’s first two solos for the SWEET SOUL MUSIC REVUE are Stevie Wonder’s I Wish and Superstitious. He performs Soul Man, Hold On I’m Coming, I Take What I Want and Soothe Me as part of the Sam & Dave tributes and sings a solo in I Can’t Help Myself (The Four Tops) and in Papa Was A Rolling Stone (The Temptations).

Stevie Wonder


At the end of the 60s, the Sweet Soul Music is close to losing its luster. But a young blind musician from Michigan appears on the scene and carries on the legacy of soul giants. His name is Stevie Wonder. Ronnie White of The Miracles brings him to Motown. His first concert is at the famous Apollo Theater, where he performes – 12 years old – his song Fingertips. It is released shortly afterwards and becomes one the ten best-selling records of 1963.

During the ensuing period Stevie guarantees hits for the Detroit music factory, and becomes its financial saviour. Uptight, For Once In My Life or I Was Made To Love Her are examples of the best-selling singles of these times. In 1971, the one-in-a-million artist leaves his record company. Having gained his artistic freedom, Stevie becomes the true innovator of soul. 25 Grammys and the Grammy Lifetime Award follow.

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