Philip Bailey Interview with Jeff Ramsey

Wednesday / March 4, 2009 / 12:00 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue
United States

Philip Bailey will join us at Berklee for a multiday residency, and a concert as part of the Sovereign Bank Music Series at Berklee.

Philip Bailey joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1972, when Maurice White dismantled the first version of the band and built an entirely new lineup, retaining only his brother Verdine. Bailey came from the Denver r&b band Friends & Love, and his falsetto harmonized well with White's tenor. He added an extra dimension to the group with his talent for crooning ballads like the classic "Reasons." Earth, Wind & Fire's funky sound came to incorporate jazz, smooth soul, gospel, pop, rock 'n' roll, psychedelia, blues, folk, African music, and, later on, disco. Their elaborate live shows included stunts and pyrotechnics designed by magician Doug Henning.
During a band hiatus between 1983 and 1987, Philip Bailey enjoyed success in both the gospel and pop fields, scoring a hit with the Phil Collins duet "Easy Lover." His 1986 release Triumph earned a Grammy Award. In 1999, Bailey released a smooth jazz album that featured Gerald Albright, Luis Conte, Everette Harp, Pat Metheny, and Grover Washington Jr.

Earth, Wind & Fire reunited in 1987 for the album Touch the World, and the band hasn't slowed down since. White retired from touring in 1995 but remains Earth, Wind & Fire's producer. The band's most recent recording, Illumination, includes cameos by OutKast, the Black Eyed Peas', Brian McKnight, and Kenny G.

Over the decades, Earth, Wind & Fire has earned four American Music Awards, eight double platinum/top 10 pop albums, eight number-one r&b singles, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Lifetime Achievement honors from the NAACP, ASCAP, and BET. In 2000, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In recognition of the mark they have made on popular music, Berklee awarded Maurice White and Philip Bailey honorary doctor of music degrees in May 2008.

Bailey will be the special guest artist in a concert at Berklee on Saturday, March 7.