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THE ORIGINALS — Hank Dixon
vocal The Originals with Hank Dixon (far left) —
The Originals with Hank Dixon (far left) —
Although The Originals were formed in 1966 before they signed with Motown Records, in 2017, they continue to be a prolific vocal force led by the surviving original member Hank Dixon. The Originals possess one of the coolest sounds that ever emanated from Detroit in Motown’s hey day. Composed by fellow Motown artist Marvin Gaye for The Originals, “Baby I’m For Real,” a romantic ballad with a soulful plea, was the first major hit for the group. The tune has been covered by a number of acts, most notably After 7, on La Face Records. Quickly following this initial success, “The Bell,” another Gaye composition, sporting deeply emotive and luscious harmonies, became their first platinum single. And the hits kept coming: “We Can Make It Baby,” a uniquely soothing number with limitless appeal, is a fitting entry into the rich catalogue that characterizes one of Motown’s best-kept secrets, The Originals.
The group’s original lineup comprised Freddie Gorman, Hank Dixon, Walter Gaines, Ty Hunter, and C.P. Spencer. Before their major success, they were called The Voice Masters, and like the Andantes (female singers), they provided original background vocals on some of Motown’s greatest hits, including “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,’ “My Whole World Ended,” “For Once In My Life,” ‘War,” and a plethora pf additional chart-busting classics. Carrying the torch for The Originals’ 2017 cast is tenor Hank Dixon, who is so proficient as a vocalist, that he could have sang lead with any group during Motown‘s “glory days.” His raspy and sensuous growl “baby, baby, baby, you don’t have to go…” is perhaps the most powerful line in the hit song “Baby I’m For Real.” Hank Dixon, soft-spoken and modest, when asked about the enduring quality of the group, answered: “We were a group that did well, almost all the way. I’ve enjoyed every minute!” Another popular song by the group, “Down To Love Town,” was a disco smash and the vibe from this tune still reverberates! The Originals developed a sound do infectious that standout composer Janie Bradford once said of the group: “The Originals are one of the best groups to ever record at Motown.! They are definitely underrated.” Along with Hank Dixon, the only living original member of the group, are his daughter Terri Dixon, Defrantz Forrest (Gene Chandler’s son), and Jim Gilstrap, who sang opening lead with Stevie Wonder on “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life.” The group is still performing globally. Much of their domestic touring is under the guidance of promoters like Alan Beck. The group plans new music and many more shows for the 2017 season and beyond. Music industry insiders agree that this incredible Detroit ensemble has for more than five decades lived up to their incredible name — The Originals.