- Faith & Family
Frankie Beverly, 64, started out singing gospel music as a boy in his hometown of Philadelphia. By the time he was a teenager, he had formed an a cappella, doo-wop group called The Blenders, following the example of greats that included The Dells and The Moonglows. But it wasn’t until he had refitted his band and moved to LA that fortune began to smile on him when he caught the eye of the late, great Marvin Gaye. The rest, as they say, is history.
“There were singers back then that really mentored up-and-coming groups and vocalists,” he said. “Frankie Lymon was number one and he influenced me when I was a boy to do what I do today. Sam Cooke was key in my life as well. But it was Marvin Gaye who let us open for him and helped Maze break out.”
Beverly is known for a string of hits — some for those who like to shake a leg — others who have found the love of their life. He says that while he dislikes pointing to one favorite song, based on the response of his audiences, there are two that come to mind.
“We Are One is a song that moves people and you can see it from the stage,” he said. “It lets me know that all is well. The song itself reminds us that we are one family and that we should not judge others. That’s a powerful message. Then there’s Joy and Pain. That song simply says that both feelings are a part of life. You can’t have mountains without valleys.”
Parents love still sustains him
A proud father and grandfather himself, Beverly says that when he first started singing, he didn’t anticipate the success he would have.
“But I suspected it,” he said. “My parents encouraged me but they also kept me in line. If I had gotten out of hand, my head would have been rolling down the street. Also my belief in Christ has helped to keep me grounded. Today one of my sons has become a great drummer and has played with me. One of my granddaughters has developed into an amazing singer. They make me proud.”
When Beverly comes to Miami this Friday at the BankUnited Center, he will once again energize the crowd with R&B hits that have been coming since 1977. The concert will open with Ledesi along with comedian Marvin Dixon. Beverly may also surprise us with a few new songs, as he has recently returned to the studio after a long hiatus to produce a live CD.
“We took awhile before producing a new compilation because we weren’t ready,” he said. “We aren’t the kind of band that wants to do filler and we had enough hits so that we didn’t have to worry about folks forgetting us. We took our time. That’s one of the problems with music today. I believe you have to make music — not use machines to produce your sound. The music from the 60s, 70s and 80s was part of a revolution unlike anything the world had ever seen. That’s why people enjoy Maze so much — there’s a message in our music!”
By D. Kevin McNeir