SoulTracks 3 Minute Update: The Whispers

Three Minute Update is the newest SoulTracks feature. It is designed to give classic soul fans to catch up with what’s going on with their favorite soul music artists of the 60s, 70s and 80s. All in three minutes. Our latest in this series is an update on The Whispers.

Though they formed in LA in the early 60s, it was more than a decade before The Whispers hit the big time and became one of the biggest R&B acts in the world.

Three Minute Update is the newest SoulTracks feature. It is designed to give classic soul fans to catch up with what’s going on with their favorite soul music artists of the 60s, 70s and 80s. All in three minutes. Our latest in this series is an update on The Whispers.

Though they formed in LA in the early 60s, it was more than a decade before The Whispers hit the big time and became one of the biggest R&B acts in the world.

Consisting of twin brothers Walter and Wallace (Scotty) Scott, Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson and Leaveil Degree (who replaced departing member Gordy Harmon in 1973), the Whispers were a mid level charting act throughout the 70s, but all that changed in 1980, when they were teamed with upcoming writer/producer Leon Sylvers. The result was "And the Beat Goes On," one of the most infectious songs of the disco era and the single that thrust the Whispers to the top tier of soul artists. 

That began a string of monster soul chart success for the Whispers, with such additional hits “Lady,” "It's A Love Thing," "Keep On Lovin Me" and "Tonight." The group appeared to lose steam in the second half of the decade, but a hot dance tune written by then-unknown Deele member Babyface brought the Whispers back, as the excellent "Rock Steady" shot to the top of Pop, Soul and Dance charts.  The group left Solar for Capitol in 1990 and continued to record soul hits through the mid-90s, garnering success with "Innocent," "My Heart Your Heart" and "Is It Good To You."  Sadly, they lost group member Marcus Hutson to cancer in 2000.

After leaving Capitol, the Whispers recorded more sporadically and with fewer hits. Their fans were rewarded in 2009 with the independently released Thankful, the group’s first Gospel album, a collaboration with Unified Tribe's Magic Mendez as well as Fred Hammond, among others. 

Tragedy struck on January 6, 2016, as Nicholas Caldwell died after a long battle with heart disease. Fans around the world mourned as did the group. But the remaining members ultimately decided to continue on as a trio, and they resumed touring the world over the next few years.

The Whispers gave their fans a blessing in the early days of the COVID pandemic in 2020 their first studio recording in 14 years. "How Long" was a wonderful addition to the group's discography, and a heartfelt look at what was going on in the world.

The Whispers, now more than a half century into their careers, Walter, Scotty and Leaveil are gearing up to tour later in 2021. They are also in the studio, working on what they call "some classic, grown folks music" which should be released this year. The Whispers are still a model for consistency and unity in song and we're looking forward to seeing and hearing them as the world opens again. 

by Chris Rizik

 

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