By Michael Cerio
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The idea of family has always been important for Kenny Gamble.
While building the sound of Philadelphia with Gamble And Huff and Philadelphia International Records, family was the focus of MFSB or “Mother Father Sister Brother.” It was the studio collective of musicians that helped the producers rack up gold records throughout the 1970’s. Even though the acronym has always been rumored to have a dual meaning – doubling as an expletive-filled exclamation – Gamble insists it has always just meant family.
“That’s what people always thought,” laughs Gamble. “With Philly International we were like a family. We always used to call it the Gamble, Huff, Bell family because we had so many writers, producers, young people. So that’s where it came from – mother, father, sister, brother – a lot of people thought it meant something else but it did not.”
“We were promoting family and you can’t make it without family,” he smiles.
Gamble continues to promote family these days through his philanthropic work, looking to bolster the young men and women of the community. His latest effort is “An Evening Of Style And Grace” which is a fashion show and fundraiser happening Thursday December 3rd at University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. It all benefits a few initiatives championed by Gamble and his wife. “We have a program called the Pearls Of Wisdom which is a social etiquette program for girls, and we also have a program called From Boys To Men which is for young boys in our charter schools and it teaches them etiquette and financial literacy and all of the things that they need to know in order to make it in this world that we’re living in” explains Gamble.
The team of Gamble And Huff are Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame members for their legendary writing and producing, helping to make stars out of artists like Teddy Pendergrass and The O’Jays and turning Philadelphia in to a chart-topping factory of soul. It’s a system not completely unlike today’s pop music where people like Max Martin and Ryan Tedder are responsible for writing and producing so much of what has come out of your speakers this year from artists like Katy Perry, Adele, and everyone in-between.
“I think that’s gonna always be” says Gamble. “Before Gamble And Huff you had Holland-Dozier-Holland, you had Smokey Robinson and Rogers, Thom Bell and Linda Creed you know.”
“There’s always gonna be another great songwriter out there that fits the times. Each generation has its own music, but the one thing that I always say is that a great song, it fits any time or day.”
One such artist for Kenny Gamble is Adele. “God she came out of nowhere, but listen to that great voice she’s got and listen to the songs that she’s singing.”
“I still think the bottom line to all of it has to be that you have to have great music” say Gamble. “People want to be entertained. They need to be entertained as a balance to much of the madness that’s going on in the world.”
To hear more from Kenny Gamble check out the full interview below, and find more information on “An Evening Of Style And Grace” here