Here are some facts that you just can’t get around. Fact one, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., are living musical legends and that takes a lot of passion, heart work, hard work, and l.o.v.e. to accomplish.
Fact two, McCoo and Davis, Jr. achieved the aforementioned, legendary status as the
Original Stars and lead singers of the legendary group, The 5th Dimension, where they launched Champagne and Pop Soul Classics, including “Up, Up and Away,” (https://bit.ly/3FCq3W5) “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” ( https://bit.ly/3FCq3W5 ), “Worst That Could Happen,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” — https://bit.ly/3kYskTS and my favorite song — “One Less Bell to Answer” https://bit.ly/3DKFP0A .
Their road to legacy continued after leaving The 5th Dimension where they recorded “You Don’t Have to be a Star (to Be in My Show),” ( https://bit.ly/3cCjFSp ) a chart-topping number 1 record, which won them their 7th Grammy Award and a network television variety show on CBS.
McCoo and Davis, Jr. made TV history with the “The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show” with the couple being the first African-American married couple to have their variety show and the creative duo has continued to enjoy tremendous success through the years as recording artists, performers, and authors. They have received 7 Grammy Awards and earned 15 gold and 3 platinum records.
As I stated — they are living legends and they recently released their first studio album in three decades, Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons (on EE1, a kathy ireland® Worldwide subsidiary, distributed by BMG, the world’s 7th-largest music company). Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons, continues the couple’s decades-long activism for civil rights and social justice, with the couple stating, “This album is a tribute to the blackbirds whose lives ended tragically by violence, and those who sacrificed their all in the name of social justice.” Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons is the only human rights and freedom, including religious freedom, recording project in 2021.
The album’s powerful message and success lead to numerous accolades, with the Social Justice Learning Institute adopting the single blackbird as its Summer of Equity anthem, and special recognition from the National Congress of Black Women Inc.
Earlier this year McCoo and Davis, Jr. were named among the Top Ten Artists in 2021 by Music Observer and were recently celebrated by the DNC with the JFK Profile in Courage Award for their lifelong activism — https://bit.ly/3cEFJfk .
Continuing to break barriers, this powerhouse couple and a walking-breathing example of African-American love became the first African American couple to receive a second honor on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition, on Marilyn’s 78th birthday, Kathy Ireland, Chair & CEO of the recording and multimedia production entity announced that Marilyn and Billy will record additional albums for EE1 BMG. The landmark announcement is historic, as McCoo and Davis, Jr. are the most mature married couple to ever receive a long-term recording contract.
McCoo and Davis, Jr. are also featured in Questlove’s award-winning directorial debut, “Summer of Soul (…Or, when the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” a documentary on the Harlem Cultural Festival which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award and breaking festival records. (https://bit.ly/3r0Q2lZ ).
McCoo and Davis, Jr.’s television credits are inclusive of every decade from 1960 when they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show to their recent appearance on the daytime drama, Days of Our Lives. Their Television presence includes Solid Gold, Sonny & Cher, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams Show, Dolly Parton & Friends, Ed Sullivan, Specials, as well as “Love Boat,” “Jamie Foxx Show,” “Night Court,” “It Takes a Thief,” “The Fall Guy,” and “Punky Brewster” to name a few. And this year, they will appear in the CW TV movie “The Waltons Home Coming” (November 28th).
A committed couple who has done the work of staying together with patience, wisdom, and passion recently celebrated their 52nd anniversary this past July (2021) and have shared their relationship advice in a book, “Up, Up and Away, How we found love, faith, and lasting marriage in the entertainment world” (2004). The book details how they weathered opposite backgrounds, alcoholism, and the glamorous lifestyle and serves as an inspiration to fans and married couples alike. Their recent projects also include the 25th Anniversary Tour of the Colors of Christmas, with Peabo Bryson, Ruben Studdard, and Jody Watley; the Mister Rogers Tribute Album with Sandy Patti, Lee Greenwood, Vanessa Williams, and Jon Secada, “Thank you Mister Rogers,” which won a Parents Choice Award this past November; and performing at the Celebration of the Music of Jimmy Webb at Carnegie Hall.
McCoo and Davis, Jr. are scheduled to return to Las Vegas where they have headlined for the past five years with their successful musical production, “Up, Up & Away! a musical fable.” Additional tour dates around the world are to be announced soon.
In California, the dynamic couple will be tearing up the stage at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood on December 3rd and 4th. For more information on the two shows visit catalinajazzclub.com or http://mccoodavis.com/ ( https://bit.ly/3CHuVaw), or call (323) 466-2210.
Here is what the legendary couple Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. had to share about their upcoming gig at Catalina Jazz Club and spreading the love and activism through the years. I enjoyed speaking with them so much, they are inspiring me to step into a podcast because the joy in their voices can’t be truly expressed in these pressed, ink words but I will do my best.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: I understand that you are about to hit California — December 3 and 4th — with a sonic boom? Correct?
MARILYN McCOO& BILLY DAVIS, JR.: Correct, Catalina Jazz Club is a major landmark in Los Angeles and a great place where entertainers get to come and show off their craft. And like so many venues they were hit by the [COVID-19] pandemic and it’s our pleasure, really, to perform to help them out.
LAS: That’s what I am talking about. Giving a helping hand which is just another. Part of your lifelong activism.
MM&BDJ: We’ve been activists all our lives and although we might not have been [standing] on the front lines we have been fighting for the Negro College Fund for years and everything else that’s come against us — we’ve been fighting against division and racism. It’s just a way of life.
LAS: All I can say, with a dramatic sigh is ‘yes’it’s’for’sure’ — damn?”
MM: Anything thing, Lapacazo is that when you are singing in a group and you have five people and everyone doesn’t always feel the same way about things. And there have been times when we talked about certain topics and not everyone would feel the same way, so you didn’t feel that you could speak for the group. You had to speak for yourself.
LAS: I understand. I get that.
MM: So we’ve always been kind and considerate of one another. We said what we thought but with care.
LAS: Art and music have a soft, powerful, and lasting punch and can impact change in a way that just reading or hearing a speech can not. Music becomes a personal soundtrack of life.
BDJ: Yes, yes. Music has a way of doing that. A song can be anywhere between two to five minutes long but it’s a short story.
LAS: Music is a short story.
BDJ: And there are messages in those [short] stories that stay with us and make us think.
LAS: Make us think.
BDJ: And make us feel and we can walk away with that message, and we can think about it and it can change our lives.
LAS: I agree because music has changed my life a few times.
MM: You know there was one recording that we did that the entire group was so excited about, it was The 5th Dimension recording of the
MM&BDJ: Music is a short story and it stays with us. It makes us think and it can change our lives. There was one recording that we did, as a group [ The 5th Dimension ], it was the Declaration of Independence and arranged by Julius Johnson. [The Declaration (1970) – [ https://bit.ly/3nGkXCj ] and we actually performed this for President Nixon and the 50 Governors, and they looked at each with such confusion, they didn’t know whether to applaud or not. Those are the types of moments [in history] that you never forget.
LAS: I can only imagine. Speaking of moments in history that can’t be forgotten let’s talk about being included in Questlove’s award-winning directorial debut, “Summer of Soul (…Or, when the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” a documentary on the Harlem Cultural Festival. https://bit.ly/3r0Q2lZ – there is Oscar buzz, FYI.
MM: What was so amazing was when the Harlem Cultural Festival, back in
in 1969 — it was a thrill that we were invited because a lot of our songs were not played on the R&B [radio] stations as they were played on the Pop [radio] stations.
BDJ: Radio stations were segregated.
MM: You know when we did the festival, in 1969, we didn’t even know it was being recorded.
LAS: Say what now? No performance clearance releases?
MM: New York City mayor John V. Lindsay helped pull this show together to bring the music to Harlem with the performers that the community knew. For six weeks they had a series of concerts at the Marcus Garvey Park. We didn’t know the festival was being recorded. We didn’t even know that footage existed (50 years later) until we heard from Questlove’s people.
BDJ: That was 50 years later.
MM: They called us and said, we have a question to ask you — ‘What does the Harlem Cultural Festival mean to you?,” and what do you remember about it?
LAS: What do you remember about it?
BDJ: It was packed.
MM: It was 50 thousand people and it was mixed with Black people, Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and a lot of families. So many families.
BDJ: A lot of time we were performing for a white audience because our people couldn’t afford the tickets. It was a thrill to perform in front of our people in Harlem for all our brothers and sisters.
MM: Questlove’s team came to interview us in L.A. and afterward they showed us some of the footage from 1969.
LAS: Wow! That must have been an amazing feeling.
BDJ: We had not seen this stuff in 50 years. Naturally, we were both filled up and we went back in time.
MM: The most beautiful thing about that was that they brought it to Questlove who is a music historian. The way that he mixed up the music, the artist and the culture, and the way the people were dressed, it’s brilliant and it’s no surprise that it’s winning all these awards.
LAS: This is another example of the power of music — the evergreen shelf life and the power to move minds and hearts.
MM: Another thing that we thank God for, is that around the time this film came out, our album [Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons ] also came out. Talk about timing. Timing is everything.
LAS: Amen. Hear that Los Angeles? Timing is everything, so get those tickets to the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood for December 3rd and 4th catalinajazzclub.com or http://mccoodavis.com/ ( https://bit.ly/3CHuVaw), or call (323) 466-2210.