The O’Jays

Hop on the ‘Love Train.’

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Photo by Raymond Boyd.

Photo by Raymond Boyd.

Saturday, July 25

In the ‘70s, The O’Jays became the face of finger-snappin’ soul music. With a string of modern classics, including “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “For the Money,” “I Love Music” and “Use Ta Be My Girl,” The O’Jays’ smooth vocals helped place the Philly Soul sound on the map. During the soulful trio’s 15-year reign, the group placed 35 singles on the R&B chart, nine of which peaked at No. 1. The O’Jays’ story began in the ‘50s when founding members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams began singing gospel on a radio station in their hometown of Canton, Ohio. Later joined by classmates William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles, they became a vocal R&B group named the Triumphs. The group was later renamed The O’Jays after its disc jockey mentor, Eddie O’Jay. The group’s faith took a further leap when they met Gamble and Huff backstage at Harlem’s infamous Apollo Theater in 1968. The producer signed the group to a new record label, Neptune Records, for which The O’Jays recorded seven singles, including the R&B hit “One Night Affair.” After Gamble and Huff received an imprint from Columbia Records in 1972, The O’Jays enhanced the Philly Soul sound. Philly Soul, or The Sound of Philadelphia, was a churchy-contemporary blend of strings, keyboards, guitars and dance rhythms capped with distinguished gospel vocal harmonies. The new innovative sound proved to be successful with records like: Back Stabbers and Love Train, which both had mainstream appeal, making the group crossover stars. On Saturday, July 25, the more-than-five-decades talent arrives at Oklahoma’s First Council Casino. For more information, visit www.firstcouncilcasinohotel.com.

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