On Wednesday night (Nov. 17), the legacy of renowned R&B songwriting duo Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, known in the music world as Gamble & Huff, took center stage in Harlem to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their prestigious label, Philadelphia International Records.
Presented by TOYOTA, the soul pioneers invited fans and media members to The Soundtrack of Soul, an intimate dinner at the Harlem Parish where attendees recounted memories behind the greatness of their label — which introduced the world to all-time greats like The O’Jays and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, while reintroducing legends like Patti LaBelle and Lou Rawls in their storied careers’ second phases. Attendees were serenaded with a live musical set by the Chiara Collective, along with a performance by R&B trio The Shindellas.
“They had five decades of creating the label,” says Chuck Gamble, the nephew of Kenneth Gamble and vice president of catalog promotions at Warner Chappell Music. “That’s what the 50 years stand for. Celebrating two friends getting together, meeting in an elevator and developing that 50 years with songs that have that kind of longevity and creating artists that came out of it, like Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, is very exciting,”
To commemorate the label’s longevity, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, released a remix this week to Teddy Pendergrass’ 1977 classic, “The More I Want, The More I Get.” Anchored by D-Nice, the funky hit gets a modern-day flip by the famous DJ, who will also be paying homage to the PIR label next Monday (Nov. 22) during his Instagram Live DJ set. According to Chuck Gamble, D-Nice, a lifelong fan of Gamble and Huff, was sought after by Sony after they expressed interest in him remixing the track.
“To take a song that Teddy did [in the ’70s] and to have that come out some 40 years later on a different format is not only a testament to Gamble and Huff, but Teddy Pendergrass,” Gamble told Billboard.
Gamble also said that fans can expect more remixes shortly, and that a documentary is in the works: “Right now, the main focus is preparing [Gamble and Huff] to film their documentary, and that’s going to be announced in the next 30 days or less. So a documentary on the Philly sound is going to be cool.” While working on the previously shelved documentary, Gamble says they will also be releasing never-heard-before masters and working on a potential Broadway play considering that now is the perfect time to tell the stories of Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff, and hall of fame hitmaker Thom Bell.
“We want great stories to come out of it, how they came together, and their life stories,” he explains. “There are stories behind the music too. What is the story behind [Billy Paul’s] ‘Me and Mrs. Jones,’ and [Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’] ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now?’ We’re looking to tell all those stories.”