Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and a dozen other artists and executives from SOLAR records are honored by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson as a part of African American Music Appreciation Month. (Photo by Leroy Hamilton)

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson is extremely proud to recognize SOLAR Records (Sound of Los Angeles Records) for their contributions to music during The City of Los Angeles’s African American Music Appreciation Month. This event took place at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, June 19. 

The City of Los Angeles has been responsible for a number of spectacular events in celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month at City Hall. Last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the month with a special visit from Lionel Richie. Councilmember Harris-Dawson continued the celebrations with presentations for Soul Train, Bill Withers, Reggie Andrews, and The Living Legends Foundation. Additionally, Councilmember Harris-Dawson’s office spearheaded the Prince Memorial Concert on the steps of City Hall. 

This year’s presentation will culminate this milestone 40th Year Anniversary by revisiting the vision of Dick Griffey, the work of the artists, creative teams, and SOLAR Executives who helped develop and lay the foundation for SOLAR. Mr. Griffey’s brilliant business acumen, knowledge of music, A & R, and the music business overall, coupled with record promotion, marketing, and his leadership guided the success of the label. 

SOLAR was founded in 1977, after Dick Griffey and Don Cornelius folded Soul Train Records. SOLAR was the most dominant Black-owned record label from the late 1970’s through 80’s. SOLAR, through its peak in the 1980s, quickly earned its moniker, “the Motown of the ’80s,” for its stable of artists. Legendary recording artists such as The Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, Dynasty, Klymaxx, Midnight Star, The Deele (featuring Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds) Carrie Lucas, Collage, and Calloway have Griffey’s imprint on them. His hits are inescapable, with classics including “Second Time Around”, This Is For The Lover In You “Fantastic Voyage,” “And the Beat Goes On,” “Rock Steady,” “Tender Lover,” “Two Occasions,” “Freak-A-Zoid,” and “Men All Pause,” amongst a string of other hits. 

“The legacy of SOLAR Records cannot be overstated,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “Not only did they produce some of the most successful and well-known hits of the 80’s, their legacy directly impact some of today’s most respected and successful artists.” 

The “SOLAR Sound” was a collective effort, with artists working on each other’s projects, and artists were encouraged to be creative. Leon F. Sylvers, III became SOLAR’s house producer in 1978 and his signature basslines and productions helped mold the hit sound of SOLAR, which is funky, progressive dance music infused with soul and disco. 

Former SOLAR members who attended the event included: Shalamar, The Whispers, Lakeside, Dynasty, Carrie Lucas, Leon Sylvers, The Sylvers, Klymaxx, Collage, Midnight Star, The Deele, and Calloway along with SOLAR Executives and other VIPs.