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The Whispers Blow in to SAP Center

In Music
R&B BROS: Identical twins Wallace and Walter Scott have been going strong for 50 years.

R&B BROS: Identical twins Wallace and Walter Scott have been going strong for 50 years.

Smooth R&B vocal group The Whispers have been a fixture of the music landscape for 50 years. With a sound that draws from vocal greats like The Temptations, The Whispers’ soothing approach keeps the focus on the vocals. But the enduring act has also applied a solid slow-jam dance groove to its approach, earning a lengthy string of hits in the process.

Though they started in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts in 1963—and gained fame as a live act, aided in part by support and encouragement from Sly Stone—it wasn’t until the end of that decade that The Whispers scored a record deal. Led by identical twins Wallace and Walter Scott, The Whispers would eventually release more than two dozen albums. Beginning with 1969’s “The Time Will Come” (which topped out at No. 19 on Billboard’s R&B chart), the group would score 21 R&B charting singles over the next decade. The Whispers enjoyed crossover appeal, as nearly half of those singles would appear on the mainstream charts as well.

That all changed with the release of “And the Beat Goes On” in 1980. No relation to the Sonny and Cher hit, the song displayed The Whispers’ seemingly effortless ability to change with the times. A sleeker, slicker sound for the new decade resulted in even greater success for the group; the Scott brothers hit the R&B Top 40 no less than 16 times in the ’80s. Three of those songs, including the 1987 smash “Rock Steady,” were crossover hits.

The Whispers remained mainstays on the R&B chart throughout the 1990s, with nine charting singles. Three of the Whispers’ LPs—1980’s Imagination, 1981’s Love is Where You Find It and 1990’s More of the Night—were certified gold. The Whispers (1979) and Just Gets Better With Time (1987) earned the platinum sales designation.

Today much of the group’s 1970s material is out of print; the few historical collections of their material focus on the ’80s and beyond, and many best-ofs are latter-day re-recordings of the classic-era material.

The Whispers’ front line has remained remarkably constant over the decades. Today the Scott brothers continue to lead the group; vocalist Leaveil Degree has been in The Whispers since replacing original member Gordy Harmon in 1973. And they continue to receive honors; in 2014 The Whispers were inducted into the Official R&B Hall of Fame. In 2009 the group released its first-ever gospel album, Thankful.

The group doesn’t maintain a heavy touring schedule these days; their SAP Center date headlining the “Valentines Super Love Jam” is one of only two announced West Coast engagements.

The Whispers
Feb 17, 7:30pm, $32.50+
SAP Center, San Jose

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