Co-Founder, Philadelphia International Records
Sound of Philadelphia Recording Engineer; founder of Sigma Sound Studios
WXPN Asst. Station Manager, Programming
Akina Adderly & the Vintage Playboys
CHRIS M. JUNIOR Contributing Editor, Goldmine Magazine
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Philadelphia International Records (PIR), one of the most successful African-American owned record labels of all time, which has given the City of Brotherly Love a label to call its own, like Motown was to Detroit and Stax was to Memphis. PIR produced a distinct, successful brand of R&B/soul with sophisticated, seductive, string-laden music that often carried poignant messages. Philadelphia International’s Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff created what “people all over the world” know as “The Sound of Philadelphia,” making stars of The O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and Billy Paul during the 1970s and playing a key role in reviving the careers of The Jacksons, Lou Rawls and Jerry Butler.
Gamble & Huff are among the most prolific professional songwriters of all time, having written and produced over 3,500 songs within 50 years, an output that rivals such famed songwriting teams as Lennon-McCartney and Jagger-Richards. They are enshrined in five music Halls of Fame, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a massive catalogue that includes numerous pop #1 hits, R&B #1 hits, 100 gold and platinum records, Grammy winners and BMI songwriters’ awards honorees. Featured prominently in TV programs (“The Apprentice,” “Cold Case”), films (“The Nutty Professor”) and advertising spots (Verizon, Chevrolet, Coors Light, Old Navy, The Gap, Office Max) for more than 30 years, Gamble & Huff’s songs have entered the musical DNA of contemporary culture. In fact, one of their songs is played on the radio somewhere in the world every 13.5 minutes. Songs they have written and produced together, like “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “For The Love Of Money,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Cowboys to Girls,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Enjoy Yourself,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Only the Strong Survive” and “TSOP” (better known as the “Soul Train” theme), have received songwriters’ awards from Broadcast Music International (BMI). Their songs comprise the most sampled R&B catalogue in the world, by artists such as Jay-Z, Usher, Cam’ron, Ja Rule, Jaheim, and Avant.
In 2010, Gamble & Huff were presented honorary doctor of music degrees – their first together in a distinguished partnership that is nearing its 50th anniversary – at Berklee College of Music’s Commencement. A few months later, Gamble & Huff became the first people in Philadelphia history to be so honored on Broad Street with the renaming of a historic section of the city’s major artery as Gamble & Huff Walk
Earlier this month, Gamble & Huff signed with William Morris Endeavor (WME) in all areas, including film, television, theater, books, and lecture appearances – the first time the legendary songwriting duo has enjoyed agency representation of this magnitude.
Earlier this week, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia announced it will be presenting its annual Lifetime Achievement Award Gala in honor of Gamble & Huff, and they will be collaborating on an orchestral recording of TSOP music by early 2012 – the 50th anniversary year of the historic Gamble & Huff partnership.