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isley brothers

Born in Cincinnati and raised in a household ringing with the sounds of gospel music, The Isley Brothers began performing together in the 1950s as teenagers. This was perhaps not surprising as their father was a professional singer and their mother was a pianist who accompanied the family in church. They first made waves in 1959 with "Shout" (eventually a million-seller) but didn't fully break through until 1962, with the Top 20 hit "Twist and Shout" (later made even more famous by The Beatles).

Their renown was cemented with the indelible "It's Your Thing" (1969), which topped R&B charts, ascended to #2 on the Top 40, ultimately sold five million copies, won The Isley Brothers a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance and transmitted the group's power as songwriters and producers. This having been validated, the Brothers nonetheless continually enjoyed hits with songs written by others, including their 1971 take on Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With," which rose to #18. 1973's "That Lady (Part 1)," a #6 chart entry, went on to sell two million units. 1975's "Fight the Power (Part 1)," an R&B #1 and Top 40 #4, shone gold, and the Isleys' Harvest for the World album (1976) sold more than 500,000 copies in three days. In 1990, Ronald Isley refashioned the Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)" with Rod Stewart, scoring a #10; the original recording hit #12 in 1966.

All told, The Isley Brothers - who've encompassed two generations of talent - can claim 23 gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums, among them 3 + 3 (1973), The Heat Is On (1975), Go for Your Guns (1977), Showdown (1978), Winner Take All (1979), Go All the Way (1980), Grand Slam (1981), Between the Sheets (1983) and Mission to Please (1996).

Of course, their importance to pop music cannot be expressed by chart and certification stats alone. In addition to countless other offerings, when The Isley Brothers (at the time, Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly) first toured England, in 1964, they brought along a virtually unknown guitarist by the name of Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix made his first recording with The Isleys); on the European leg of that outing, their keyboardist was a young player named Elton John. "Look at Elton and Jimi now - we're all in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together," Isley notes (the Isleys were inducted in 1992).

Not content to rest on The Isley Brothers' many laurels, however, Ronald Isley, in particular, has remained active on the contemporary scene. Since the release of Mission to Please, he has collaborated with Quincy Jones and Nas and recorded a 12-inch with Lil' Kim, 112 and Winbush called "Float On" for the Bad Boy label. He can also be found as singer Pretty Tony on longtime friend Steve Harvey's WB sitcom.

Further, Ronald serves as manager for up-and-coming pop/R&B vocal trio The Johnson Sisters (Kandy, Kim and Krystal), who performed background vocals on Eternal and who are expected to release their debut album on DreamWorks Records in 2002. Isley was acknowledged for his many accomplishments when he was bestowed The Quincy Jones Award at the 2001 Soul Train Awards.

Still, despite this litany of deeds, Isley insists The Isley Brothers are all about moving forward. "We didn't get to where we are by staying the same," he says of a body of work that has spanned doo-wop, rock, R&B, soul, funk and pop. "Seeing what Carlos Santana did with his last record really raised the bar for us. We set off to do the same, to incorporate new voices into The Isley Brothers sound."

"Always trying out new stuff is what keeps music alive," echoes Ernie Isley, who channels his signature sound through a one-of-a-kind Fender guitar made especially for him. "We believe in including as many influences as we can, just like rock 'n' roll borrows from all styles of music." At the same time, he allows: "When you listen to our music, the years and experience that have gone into it are obvious. We're seasoned professionals. We've changed along with American music and are still coming up with new things, but our years of experience are very apparent on the new album."

Similarly, The Isley Brothers welcomed new blood into their pool of collaborators this time around, while also employing the skills of some tried-and-true creative partners. In addition to their long-standing work with Winbush, they'd shared a fruitful pairing with R. Kelly on Mission to Please, so they knew he'd be a natural fit for Eternal. "R. Kelly has the Isley Brothers flavor," Ronald says. "He gave us the whole nine yards on 'Contagious' [which Kelly produced, wrote and arranged]. It's the bomb."

He and Ernie are equally thrilled about their collaboration with Jill Scott, who wrote and performs "Said Enough," with Ronald pitching in on a verse and vocals. "Jill has that taste of soul and gospel that we love, and she's a poet," Isley attests. "She's a great songwriter, and she's really got a bead on what's happening right now in the street. 'Said Enough' has that special feel to it, like back in the day of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack." Isley also had an immediate personal rapport with Scott. "We spent a lot of time talking about our admiration for each other - what The Isley Brothers have accomplished over the years, what she's already done in a short time - and Jill is a big fan of ngela's, too. Then, when it was time to lay down the track, I got my part down on the first take."

Though working with Scott was a relatively new aspiration for The Isleys, recording with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis - whose songwriting and production credits read like a "who's who" of modern R&B: Janet Jackson, Shaggy, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men - had been a goal for years. "We've been friends with Jimmy and Terry for a long time," Ronald explains. "We've just been waiting for the right time to work together. We went into this with the idea of upping each other's game. Once we got into the studio, the magic just happened." Confirms Ernie: "This has been a long time in coming and I think it was well worth the wait. The songs we did with Jimmy and Terry - the structure, the production, the overall quality - are amazing."

A lucky confluence of scheduling allowed The Isleys to collaborate with Raphael Saadiq. "We've also wanted to work with Raphael for a long time, but he's been so busy with Lucy Pearl and his other projects that we weren't sure we'd ever be able to do it," notes Ronald. "We were so happy when we got to do these incredible songs with him." As for Steve Huff, Ernie says: "Steve has a great rhythmic, street feel. He's an excellent producer and writer. His instincts are so good - he just knows exactly how things should be put together. His creative chemistry with Avant, who is a tremendous talent in his own right, was a real benefit to us on Eternal, too."

Ronald is also quick to share credit with some behind-the-scenes players, notably A&R executive Louil Silas (executive album producer with Ronald Isley), who spearheaded many of these creative couplings and to whom Eternal is dedicated (Silas passed away before the project was completed). Also instrumental were urban executives John McClain, who facilitated The Isleys' connection with Jill Scott, and Jheryl Busby, who helped oversee their work with R. Kelly, who produced, wrote and arranged "Contagious."

Says Ronald of the results of all this teamwork: "This record captures what The Isley Brothers do best. The fact that we've been able to do that after all these years is a gift from God that we'll always appreciate." Concludes Ernie: "We're just pleased to have been included in so many people's lives. I like to think of our music as part of the fabric of rock 'n' roll."

Isley Brothers Lyrics - Body Kiss Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Busted Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Choosey Lover Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Contagious Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Ernie's Jam Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Eternal Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Float N' Slow - My Gift To You Bad Boy (Remix) Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Float On Bad Boy (Remix) Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Floatin' On Your Love Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - If You Leave Me Now Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Inside You Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Just Like This Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Let's Lay Together Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Let Me Down Easy Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Lucky Charm Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Move Your Body Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Prize Poss Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Said Enough (featuring Jill Scott) Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Secret Lover Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Settle Down Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Showdown Vol. 1 Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Speechless (From Life Soundtrack) Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Spend The Night Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Superstar Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Take A Ride Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Tears Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Think Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - This Old Heart Of Mine (is Weak For You) Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Voyage To Atlantis Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Warm Summer Night Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - What Would You Do? Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - Who's That Lady Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - You're All I Need Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - You Deserve Better Lyrics
Isley Brothers Lyrics - You Didn't See Me Lyrics

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