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Indiana Black Expo offers free music festival

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The Music Heritage Festival is part of the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. It offers a night of musical entertainment from well-known and successful artists. This year’s lineup features Stephanie Mills, the S.O.S Band and Heads of State, a group composed of three former members of New Edition.

Tickets to the outdoor Music Heritage Festival are free for the general public and $40 for a VIP ticket. The festival will take place on July 15 at the American Legion Mall.

“The Music Heritage Festival is Expo’s gift to the community. We wanted to offer a star-studded lineup for free. It’s to show our appreciation for the support our community has given us for over 40 years,” said Vernon Williams,the media coordinator for the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration.

The community is sure to appreciate the gift because the bands offered will not disappoint. Here is a little more information about the artists who will be performing at this year’s Music Heritage Festival.

S.O.S Band

Founded in Atlanta in 1977, the S.O.S band (who originally worked under the band name “Santa Monica”) is a funk/soul group that is currently composed of Mary Davis, lead vocals, Abdul Ra’oof, trumpet, and Jason Bryant, keyboard. Listeners will feel like they have drifted back into the ‘80s when they listen to the sounds of the S.O.S band. The S.O.S band plays classic funk with a clean production and lots of commercial appeal.

One of the band’s most famous songs was “Take Your Time (Do It Right)” that was released in 1979. The 2 million selling single went platinum and was No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B charts for five weeks, as well as No. 3 on Billboard’s pop charts. Some of their other singles include “Just Be Good to Me,” “Weekend Girl” and “Tell Me if You Still Care.”

The band continues to make music to this date, releasing a CD in 2010 titled “Sands of Time.” The S.O.S Band released a “Best Of” album in January of this year. The S.O.S acronym stands for “Sounds of Success.”

Stephanie Mills

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., the 4-foot, 11-inch Mills began her carrier as a soul and R&B singer at the age of 9, eventually winning Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater at the age of 11. She was then cast in the Broadway musical “Maggie Flynn” which jumpstarted her career as a singer. In the musical, she played the role of an orphan child of a runaway slave. However, her most recognizable performance was as Dorothy in the Broadway production of “The Wiz.”

Despite her success on Broadway, Mills never gave up her dream of becoming a recording artist. In 1973, she got her big break. She was signed to Paramount Records in 1973 and her first single “I Knew It Was Love” was released. Later, she was signed to Motown Records.

Her musical career hit its highest point in 1985 when her version of “I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love” was No.1 on the R&B charts. Some other popular songs she has recorded include “I Never Knew Love Like This Before” and “What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin.”

Though Mills was released from her contract in 1992 after releasing an album titled “Something Real” as well as a Christmas album, she didn’t let that stop her. Mills returned to musical theater in 1997, starring in Stephen Schwartz’s “Children of Eden.” Mills continued to work her way back into the entertainment industry by releasing singles with Bebe Winans and rapper DMX.

Today, she continues to tour the country and sing. On July 2, she performed at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. During Indiana Black Expo, however, attendees will have the opportunity to see her perform for free.

Mills has independently released an album titled “Breathless” and has a new single titled “Yesterday” that is currently available on I-tunes.

Heads of State

In the city of Boston in 1978, an R&B group titled New Edition was formed. The group reached its apex in the 1980s. At the height of their career, the group was composed of Ronnie Devoe, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, and Jonny Gill. Some of their most famous songs include “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now.”

In 2008, after the band broke up, three of the members of New Edition, reunited to form their own band. Heads of State is composed of Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill. Heads of State will be performing at the IBE Music Heritage Festival, which is free for all visitors. Here is a little more information about the members of Head of State.

Ralph Tresvant was one of the lead singers in New Edition. He sang lead on many of the group’s singles including “If It Isn’t Love.” After his time with New Edition, he decided to try his hand at a solo career and was successful, having an album go platinum and many singles that ranked high in Billboard magazine. In 1992, he recorded his fourth and final solo top three R&B hits to date.

Born in Washington, D.C., in May of 1966, Johnny Gill is the only member of New Edition who is not from Boston. The son of a minister, he started singing at age five as part of a family gospel group. In 1983, he decided to record a demo that eventually fell into the hands of Atlantic Records. After getting a recording contract with Atlantic, he released a solo album on which he played guitar, bass, bongos and drums in addition to lead and background vocals. It wasn’t until 1987 that he decided to join New Edition. During his time in New Edition some of his hit songs included “Can You Stand the Rain.” Later Gill released a second solo album that included the hits “My, My, My” and “Fairweather Friend.”

Robert B. “Bobby” Brown was born in Boston in 1969. He began his music career as a member of the R&B band New Edition. Some of his most well-known songs with New Edition include “Candy Girl” and “Mr. Telephone Man.” New Edition had some trouble throughout the years with Brown because of his sometimes racy on-stage antics. Because of this, Brown left the group and joined again numerous times.

After success with New Edition he began a solo career that had a string of Top 10 Billboard hits.


S.O.S Band
S.O.S Band
Heads of State
Heads of State

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