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The Mills Brothers Celebrate 100 Continuous Years of Musical Excellence
By Denise J. Gibbs, Contributing Writer
Published June 9, 2022

John H. Mills II and Featured Vocalist Randy Taylor recreate the inimitable sounds of the original Mills Brothers group

John H. Mills II and featured vocalist, Randy Taylor (Courtesy Photo)

For over a century, The Mills Brothers have been one of the world’s preeminent vocal groups of all time. They are significant pioneers of African American music history—spearheading barrier-breaking impacts (racially and musically) on our society and the music industry worldwide.

The Mills Brothers were the first African American performers to have a #1 hit on the Billboard singles charts and a network show on CBS Radio in 1930. They even gave a command performance for British royalty in 1934 – the 1st Black group achieving this prestigious honor.

These trailblazing brothers influenced and collaborated with other renowned musical figures, such as Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and even the Jacksons.

The Mills Brothers at the Centennial Celebration on May 8. (Photo: Courtesy)

The Mills Brothers are a national treasure and true musical legends with unprecedented achievements: 50 million records sold globally, 3 dozen gold records, and recordings featured in TV shows, commercials, video games, and films (most recently in Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” with Leonardo DiCaprio). They recorded 2,246 songs between 1931-1982.  They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.

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In 1996, Donald F. Mills, Sr., as the sole surviving founding member, was presented with a Grammy award for lifetime achievement, and “Paper Doll” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

After brother Harry’s death in 1982, Donald’s son, John II, joined his father touring as the next iteration of The Mills Brothers.

The Mills Brothers in the 1930s. (Photo: Wikipedia)

John H. Mills II enters his 40th year at the helm, having lost his father, Donald F. Mills Sr., in 1999. John continues to perform the family’s greatest hits in concert including “Paper Doll,” “Lazy River,” “Glow Worm,” “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” and many more.

Featured vocalist and independent artist Randy Taylor unites with John in preserving the Mills Brothers legacy. Taylor is a 2011 graduate of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music and a former member of The Ink Spots Generations.

He has been tremendously blessed with legendary mentors/professors including guitarist Kenny Burrell, late jazz arranger Gerald Wilson, and the late jazz/blues vocalist Barbara Morrison—Randy was Morrison’s 1st male vocal student.  Randy explained, “Barbara became a personal and professional mentor—-she was like a 2nd mother.”

Saxaphonist Gonzalez Fantiago plays at Mills Brothers celebration. (Photo: Denise J. Gibbs)

As a duo, John and Randy recreate the inimitable sounds of the original group, inclusive of all original instrumental and vocal arrangements — keeping 100 continuous years of African American musical excellence alive and thriving.

The pair launched the Mills Brothers Centennial Celebration on May 8, Mother’s Day, with two soldout concerts at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s in Studio City.

The Mother’s Day Celebration Concert was a magical, rare, classy, and great sounding affair.  The event started off with the thoroughly impressive Mills Brothers Jazz Band, which consisted of world renown musicians – Edmond Allmond – piano; Bob Lee; bass; Abelardo Bolano Quintero– drums; Ron Hershewe – guitar; Michael Bishop – keyboards, Scheila Gonzalez Santiago – saxophone/flute; Barbara Laronga – trumpet, and Lori Stuntz – Trombone.

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“John and Randy have amazing camaraderie, and stage presence. Their passion comes through every melodious tune that they sing.  The audience remained fully engaged, and each beautiful song was refreshingly captivating. The duo took the concert-goers on a wonderful journey as they sang each classical tune. The experience of being in the audience for this monumental occasion was truly a treat,” said an admirer.

To learn more, visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themillsbrothers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themillsbrothers/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/themillsbros

 

Categories: Entertainment | Music
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