Earth, Wind & Fire
One of the premier soul groups of the 1970s, Earth Wind & Fire fused a deep knowledge of the African-American musical tradition with an uplifting, spiritual idealism. To sum up the breadth of their sound is impossible, simply because the group's versatility was awe-inspiring. They played powerhouse Funk anthems, Latin-inflected R&B grooves, shimmering Pop-Soul, and ballads that tugged the heartstrings while sending the spirit soaring across the sky. Their impeccable horn harmonies rivaled the JB's (James Brown's backing band) while Johnny Graham's sweet R&B stylings conveyed worlds of emotion. Bandleader, drummer, and premier songwriter Maurice White infused the music with African rhythm, often featuring the kalimba, or thumb-piano, while the band brought jazz and Latin polyrhythms to the heart of deep funk territory. And their three distinctive vocalists inspired near-religious adoration: Philip Bailey's soaring falsetto, Maurice White's soulful growl, and Jessica Cleaves' natural, unadorned alto. This is music for the mind, the body, and the soul.