Performing In Buffalo's Key Bank Center THIS FRIDAY!
Earth Wind & Fire's Verdine White on 'The 2054 Tour'
"The Audiences Are Having A Great Time...!"
With over 90 million records sold worldwide, seven Grammy wins and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the NAACP Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Earth, Wind & Fire are easily one of the most successful groups of all time. Yet their pioneering fusion of funk, soul, jazz, rock and world rhythms have not only transcended commercial and artistic success, it’s also established the group as a genre unto itself and most importantly a soulful, syncopated and all encompassing way of life. Earth, Wind & Fire and the groundbreaking Nile Rodgers and Chic are co-headlining this summer’s greatest party: “The 2054 Tour” which stops at The Key Bank Center Friday, August 11. “It’s going really good,” says bassist Verdine White, whose inimitable musical and personal style has been a key element of the group since its inception, regarding the tour when reached by the phone. “We’re having a great time and both bands are great.
The audiences are having a great time and we’re seeing a lot young people.” That unity or conscious party, if you will, is key in helping define the Earth Wind & Fire experience which is imbued with spirituality, optimism and love as envisioned by the late-Maurice White when he formed the band in Chicago in 1970. “We have to thank my brother Maurice for his enlightenment, encouragement and his insight in all of those areas,” concurs White when prompted about the group’s uplifting message. Indeed, indelible hit songs like “Shining Star” “Sing A Song” and “September” or landmark albums like That’s The Way Of The World, Spirit, and I Am still seem timely and timeless four decades after the fact while E,W&F anthems that were directed towards the African- American community like “Keep Your Head To The Sky,” Mighty Mighty” and “Devotion” share universal truths with which all cultures could identify.
Let’s also not forget about “Reasons” or “Love’s Holiday” which surely spike a population increase nine months after couples play or stream them. Not to mention E,W&F’s sonic imprint which helped shape modern Black pop and the last half century of American popular music influencing the likes of Prince, Outkast, Beyonce, Keith Sweat and Phil Collins among many others while also proving fertile sampling ground for A Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees and Public Enemy to name a few. They also continue to offer musical inspiration in troubled times and in this era it’s something that’s needed more than ever. Prompted for his thoughts on whether the current political climate has made the group’s music more relevant, White notes that, “I think a lot of people are coming to the concerts for a feel good experience and what it does is re-enforces our message and how much people love it and appreciate it more.”
Reflecting on the passing of his older brother Maurice last year from Parkinson’s disease at age 74, White says, “You’re always going to have to deal with it. We were pretty much ready for it and our shows are dedicated to him and we do a certain part of the show for him. We’ll always love him.” Currently comprised of Philip Bailey (who joined in 1972), Verdine and Ralph Johnson, Earth, Wind & Fire remain a vital force on the road and in the studio having released Now Then & Forever to acclaim in 2013 and their first ever Christmas release Holiday in 2014 while further demonstrating their versatility and universal appeal by closing this year’s Country Music Awards with a performance of “September” and appearing on CMT Crossroads with Country Artists Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride and Darius Rucker.
Of the worlds of Country music and Earth, Wind & Fire colliding White says, “They’re big on songs and we’re big on songs and they did a poll and they wanted to sing our songs with us. It was very beautiful and it was an honor too, to show how our music has translated.” “We’ve just grown and we’ve done a lot of different things and we’ve obviously had the opportunity to be part of the culture changes and the technological changes” says White of the group’s longevity. “We’ve done some really interesting things.”