Philip Bailey Live at the BPC, March 7

By
Joyce Linehan
February 13, 2009
Philip Bailey will sing select Earth Wind & Fire classics backed by students and faculty.
In 2008, Philip Bailey and Maurice White received honorary doctorate of music degrees from Berklee. From left: White; Larry Simpson, senior vice president of academic affairs; Bailey; and Berklee President Roger Brown.
Photo by Nick Balkin.

The Sovereign Bank Music Series at Berklee continues with Shining Stars: The Music of Earth, Wind & Fire on Saturday, March 7, at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. General admission tickets are $30 and are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com, and the Berklee Performance Center Box Office, (617) 747-2261. For more information visit berklee.edu/events.

Under the direction of Berklee professors Ken Zambello, Winston Maccow, and Donna McElroy, students, faculty and alumni will perform such Earth, Wind & Fire classics as "Shining Star," "September," "Kalimba Story," and "Fantasy," among many others from the rich catalog of r&b chart toppers by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.  Special guest vocalist and Berklee honorary doctor of music Philip Bailey will perform Earth Wind & Fire and solo hits. 

Known for his rare, four-octave vocal range, Bailey joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1971. For the next two decades, the platinum-selling and Grammy-winning group fused a high-energy mix that crossed cultural and generational boundaries like no other band before it.  Spiritually charged and unfettered by artificial boundaries, the band enjoyed universal appeal throughout the '70s and '80s, with a string of successful albums and a live show that quickly assumed legendary proportions. Fueled by Bailey's vastly dynamic vocal range and his emotionally charged delivery, Earth, Wind & Fire's universal appeal continues to this day. 

In the midst of Earth, Wind & Fire's ongoing success, Bailey has maintained a parallel career track that began with his 1982 solo debut, Continuation, and the 1984 platinum follow-up, Chinese Wall, coproduced by Phil Collins. The album's Bailey-Collins duet, "Easy Lover," topped the r&b and pop charts. He also released four gospel albums between 1984 and 1991, including the Grammy-winning Triumph in 1986. Philip Bailey (1994) was a collaboration with singer Brian McKnight, and members of PM Dawn and Arrested Development. Dreams, released in 1998, marked the beginning of his association with the Heads Up label.

Through it all, variety has been Bailey's secret to staying connected with the music. "You can go down this road where the music industry becomes a grind, and if you're not careful after a while, you're just kind of going through the motions," he says. "So I've always tried to find things that would spark that love again. That's the reason why I've had a multi-faceted type of career ­ including the off-the-cuff projects with Phil Collins, or the gospel thing."

In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by Berklee.