Take nine siblings, add well choreographed dance steps, good music and big Afros and you’ve got The Sylvers. The group, hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, started out with the four eldest members, as the Little Angels, opening for acts like Johnny Mathis and Ray Charles. In 1972, the group added two more brothers, changed their name and recorded their top ten hit “Wish That I Could Talk To You.”
In 1975, The Sylvers, now with the full nine brothers and sisters, hit pay dirt when they teamed up with former Jackson 5 producer Freddie Perren and recorded the number one hit “Boogie Fever,” a song that still finds its way in commercials for Old Navy and Little Caesars Pizza and most recently appeared in the movie “Despicable Me.” The Sylvers followed with the song “Hot Line,” which also made it to the number three spot on the R&B charts. They continued to enjoy marginal success on the charts and even made an appearance in the 1979 film “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” starring NBA legend Dr. J.
Eldest brother Leon Sylvers, III went on to become a successful producer for SOLAR Records. Dust off a few albums from the 80’s and you’ll see his name on credits for groups like The Whispers, Shalamar and Lakeside. Samples of The Sylvers’ music can be heard in songs from hip hop artists like Ghostface Killah, David Banner and A Tribe Called Quest. Leon continues to write and produce. He co-wrote the Blackstreet hit “Before I Let You Go” and last year received a Best Engineered Album Grammy nomination for his work on soul artist N’dambi’s Pink Elephant.
— Montrose Cunningham
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Montrose Cunningham is an independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado residing in Dallas, Texas. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughter; sometimes both at the same time. Visit him online at www.MontroseMusic.com and on Facebook.