Legendary songwriter/producer Kenny Gamble says “we are halfway there” to raising the $100 million needed to move forward on his plans to establish a national center for R&B in Philadelphia.
“Not only will this center give us a place to talk about the history of African-Americans through music but it also represents a good business proposition in terms of bringing tourists to the city and the state.”
Billboard.biz caught up with Gamble last evening at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he and partner Leon Huff were saluted on the eve of their being inducted March 10 into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The pair–progenitors of the soulful “Sound of Philadelphia”–will receive the newly named Ahmet Ertegun Award (formerly the “non-performer category”). Together 45 years, Gamble & Huff founded renowned label Philadelphia International Records (PIR) and have written or co-written more than 3500 songs, including the hits “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”
Interviewed by fellow award-winning songwriter/production duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Gamble & Huff provided a primer on hitmaking R&B/pop as they talked about the craft of songwriting and the inspiration for such songs as “Back Stabbers” and “Me & Mrs. Jones.” Joining them onstage to perform a snippet of the latter song was Billy Paul. Also in the fan-filled audience: Elvis Costello, who revealed to billboard.biz that his favorite Gamble & Huff composition is “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” a number two R&B and pop hit for the Supremes and Temptations in 1968,
Coinciding with Gamble & Huff’s 45th anniversary, Legacy Recordings has launched a reissue series following Sony BMG Entertainment’s agreement last August to license PIR’s complete catalog of music. Inaugurating the series last November were the release of two double-CD sets: “The Essential Teddy Pendergrass” and “The Essential Lou Rawls.” Next up on March 4 are “Conquer the World: the Lost Soul of Philadelphia International Records” and “The Sound of Philadelphia: Gamble & Huff’s Greatest Hits.” The PIR reissue project will also consist of digital media releases, including ringtones.