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NORMAN CONNORS 2000 SOULMUSIC.COM INTERVIEW
Back in the day – we’re talking mid-'70s for sure – a new Norman Connors album wasn’t just an opportunity to hear the Philadelphia-born drummer demonstrate his own musical skills. After the release of the "Saturday Night Special" album in 1975 (which included the now-classic duet "Valentine Love" with Jean Carn and Michael Henderson), it was a chance to hear Norman’s latest musical ‘discovery.’ The list of such eminent artists is headed by the late, great Phyllis Hyman (who debuted on Norman’s "You Are My Starship" set in 1976), Eleanor Mills, Glenn Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Juanita Dailey, Prince Philip Mitchell, Ada Dyer,

Norman Brown and Marian Meadows. No surprise then that Norman’s latest work, "Eternity" – the debut album on his own Starship label (a joint venture with The Right Stuff/Capitol-EMI) – introduces the vocal talents of Donald Tavie, re-introduces singer Denise Stewart and includes guest appearances by Angela Bofill, Peabo Bryson and Lisa Fisher.

"I started working on the record about a year ago," says Norman. "My concept was to bring together some of my musical friends, some new people and do what I’m known best for." Additional players on the album include such stalwarts as Gerald Albright and Bobby Lyle while arranger and keyboard player Herman Jackson (known for his live work with Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and others) and in addition to new tunes, Norman revisits two R&B chestnuts. "I always wanted to do "You Are My Starship" again but I couldn’t think of anyone who could do it since Michael Henderson did such a great job the first time. One of my favorite singers is Peabo Bryson and it turned out he was thinking of doing the song himself. Michael ended up arranging the track and performing on it too. Then, with "Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)," we created the same feeling as we had when Phyllis did "Betcha By Golly Wow": Onaje Allen Gumbs did the arrangement and (saxophonist) Gary Bartz did a solo just as he had done before. In fact, before Phyllis died, we talked about doing the song… Everyone kept telling me about Lisa and I knew she had done background work with Luther Vandross and had been on the road with The Rolling Stones. I was elated when she said ‘yes’ and very happy with how the recording turned out…"

Tavie, who also engineered the album with Norman, "has performed before with Lakeside. He happened to be working on his own project in the same studio when I heard him sing and he did a couple of tunes for the album," says Norman, "including a cover of a Donny Hathaway song, "We’re Still Friends." My son, Kwasi is also on the album – he’s just starting out as a hip-hop producer so I wanted to him to lend his vibe – he’s on the track "K.C." And then, Angela Bofill and I have been touring together for a while now – we did about forty-five concerts together last year – so I wanted to include a song with her on the album. We got "You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore" from (producer) Preston Glass and it’s perfect for her…"

In addition to the release of his new album, Norman is excited about the prospects for his new label. "I wanted to do this before when I was with MoJazz but I ended up with a production deal instead. It’s going to be great because now I will have a recording home to offer some of my musical friends and a place to put the new artists I find. It’s always been my philosophy that if you find someone who’s a diamond in the rough and you give them a chance, they will shine!" Norman concludes.

About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.
  
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