Don Cornelius created the television show in 1971 after a few years of running record hops in local schools in the Chicago area. In 1975, Don and record producer Dick Griffey started Soul Train Records. Don broke away from the record label in 1978 so he could concentrate on the television show, and Dick renamed the record label SOLAR.
Dick used a group of session singers to produce an album for a group he named Shalamar. Gary Mumford was the lead singer for at least the band’s first single, Uptown Festival. They patched together pieces of ten old Motown hits over a disco beat to produce the record. The single peaked at #25 on the Hot 100, reached #10 on the R&B chart, and made it to #2 hit on the US Dance Chart. Don formed a group for appearances by adding two of Soul Train’s popular dancers (Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel) to the group. Gary left the group and Gerald Brown took his place. The trio recorded the second album and had a #11 R&B hit with Take That to the Bank.
Howard Hewett replaced Gerald in 1979, and the resulting trio was the definitive group through the mid-eighties. Their recording of The Second Time Around was a top ten hit on the Hot 100 and topped the R&B and US Dance charts.
The group had released seven albums by 1984. Jody and Jeffrey left the group shortly after the release of an album that year and Micki Free and Delisa Davis replaced them.
Their last top forty single on the Hot 100 came when the new group lineup recorded Dancing in the Sheets. The Footloose soundtrack included the song. The single reached #17 on the Hot 100 and only got up to #18 on the R&B chart. The group won a Grammy award when their song Don’t Get Stopped In Beverly Hills ended up on the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop that year, although the record failed to chart at all on the Hot 100.
Howard left the group in 1987 to pursue a solo career and Sydney Justin became the new lead vocalist. The group broke up in 1990 when it became clear that the hits would not keep coming.
Jody Watley moved to England for a few years before returning to the US and unleashing a string of hits that included six top ten records on the Hot 100 and seven number one records on the US Dance Chart.
Jeffrey Daniel was one of the three dancers who performed a dance move they called the backslide on Soul Train. A year later, he later taught Michael Jackson the dance move, which then became known as the Moonwalk.
Howard Hewett had 17 solo R&B chart hits by 1995.
In 1996, Babyface cut a record with backing from LL Cool J, Howard Hewett, Jody Watley, and Jeffrey Daniel. The million-selling record was a brief reunion of the three Shalamar members.
Beginning in 1999, Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniel reformed Shalamar. Carolyn Griffey became a permanent member of that version of the group in 2003. The trio continues to tour, released a new single in 2017, and maintains a website for the group at https://shalamar.info/.
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