TO give its new product MTN Platinum Plus the maximum push in the country, MTN Nigeria, a telecommunication giant, brought in Midnight Star, a US-based Double Platinum selling R‘n’B group that dominated the music scene across the globe in 80s, as one of the two international acts to thrill guests.
Tagged MTN Platinum Plus For High Value Customers, the launch held recently at Oceanview Gardens, Victoria Island, Lagos, saw the musical group performing before a large audience made up of top company executives and high networth individuals.
After the performance, the group made up of vocalist, Belinda Lipscomb; guitarist, Melvin Gentry; bassist, Kenneth Gant; multi-instrumentalist, Bill Simmons; keyboard player, Bo Watson and Bobby Lovelace spoke on their career, reunion and experience in the country.
Recalling how it all started, Gentry informed, “Midnight Star was formed in 1976, at Kentucky State University, USA. It started as a small group, but as you already know, grew to earn a strong reputation across the globe. However, in 1978, Solar Records chief, Dick Griffey, signed us on, and in early 80s we rolled out albums such as The Beginning, Standing Together and Victory, which instantly shot us into limelight in the US. But really, it was No Parking On The Dance Floor that actually brought us into world reckoning.”
He continued, “in 1983, we came out with the dance-floor smashes like Freakazoid, No Parking On The Dance Floor, Wet My Whistle and the lovers’ ballad of the mid-80s, Slow Jam. We also topped the US musical chart in 1985, with Operator and Curious; a year later, precisely, 1986, we struck gold with Midas Touch, which happens to be the title of the album.”
Beaming with smile, Gentry added, “Don’t Rock The Boat, which featured rapper Ecstasy of Whodini, again took us to the top of the chart in 1988, before Snake In The Grass, another great hit.”
WITH this reunion, Belinda, the only female member of the group has promised to rekindle the memories of the 80s with their hits. “We are bringing back all the things our fans know us for: high thrilling stage performance, music rendered from the depth of our souls as well as letting everybody’s light shine.”
Having stayed together as a group for over three decades dishing out hit songs, members went their separate ways to pursue different careers, but recently they decided to come back as one to chart a new path in the entertainment industry.
“After having such a wonderful time together, doing extensive international tours, some of us took time off to pursue personal projects. Deep down inside, everyone had the intentions of coming back together again. I was for sometime behind the scenes, doing production projects for Toni Braxton, Shanice Wilson and some others. Bo was co-writting songs with renowned songwriter/producer, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, including hits on Toni Braxton and After Seven among other activities. Belinda was at the theatre doing wonderful stuffs, starring in several comedies and gospel musicals. Like I said, everyone took time off to execute some other projects with resounding success,” Gentry said.
“But in 2000, we came together, and have been waxing strong ever since. However, I must point out that two of our founding members are no longer with us, but the lead singers of hits such as Operator, Midas Touch, Headlines, Slow Jam, Curious, Freakazoid, Don't Rock The Boat, No Parking On The Dance Floor and others are still with the group.”
So, what’s the secret of the bonding? “Communication is key. Though we had had our ups and downs, the important thing is we have kept the group alive, “ he enthused.
FROM your collection of songs, which is your favourite? “Favourite! That’s a tough one! It’s like asking ‘who’s your favourite child?’ You know you do have one, but you don’t wanna tell,” he said amidst laughs. But more seriously, he added, “ it has been an interesting journey. We’ve waxed 10 albums and there have been a lot of songs. Actually, I like a few more than others and if I must pick one, perhaps it would be within No Parking On The Dance Floor, Slow Jam, Wet My Whistle or Operator, you see what I mean!” he said.
Assuring their fans of something new very soon, guitarist Gentry informed that their latest project would be different from what they are known for. “We are working on this really great new project, a totally new material, never done before. We may have a live track in it and it’s coming soon.”
Keyboard player and vocalist, Bo Watson, said his voice has remained the same as a result of his lifestyle. “I have done nothing really to my voice. Of course, I try to live responsibly, which means I do not do the excess of anything. I also try to always get enough rest all the time. Above all, I have been lucky to be blessed with it.”
On their experience in Nigeria. “ Oh, it’s wonderful! Nigerians radiate happiness and warmth. Somehow, you cannot help but feel and get drawn into that warmth. Many people were very eager to meet us and chat with us right from touchdown at the airport till when we mounted the stage. The reception was overwhelming; you know as performers, we feed off the energy of our audience, just as fans feed off our energy on stage. Nigeria loves Midnight Star and we love Nigeria too. I’ll tell you, we had a very exciting time in the country,” Gentry enthused.