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Men of Soul will perform at Black Spectrum

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Music lovers are in for a treat on Aug. 23rd when the singing duo Men of Soul brings their soaring voices and electrifying moves to Black Spectrum Theatre for Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D-St. Albans) summer fund-raiser.

The show, billed as a comedy and soul night, will feature singing sensations Stan Hampton of Jamaica and Tony Riley, who have been performing as Men of Soul for the past 17 years.

“Tony does the moves,” said Hampton, who has been singing since his siblings pushed the precocious young soul man to sing along with radio hits at age 5.

The 53-year-old lifelong postal worker is delighted just to step back and let his partner dance since he causes audiences’ jaws to drop.

“He’s so good, you’d think there were all five guys on stage with him,” he said, referring to the Temptations, whose synchronized trademark dance steps thrilled fans and propelled them into rock n’ roll immortality.

People who have heard Stan and Tony are enthralled by the quality and power of their voices. Alternating on lead vocals, they arrive to gigs with a sophisticated sound system that provides the musical backing tracks, which are pre-recorded by a professional. Typical sets consist of 15 to 20 numbers.

As with most musicians, Hampton’s goal has always been to land a recording contract. “I got a lot of deals,” he said, “but they all fell through.” As competitive as the music business is, it takes good contacts to have a realistic shot, Hampton said.

Though he once signed a three-year deal with an independent label, he never even got the chance to record a track because the company collapsed.

But Hampton has carried on, adjusting his attitude and not letting a lack of commercial success get him down. “I don’t let it bother me anymore,” he said. “I’m still going to make it one day.” Indeed, he tells his son, who himself is a professional singer, that they are going to meet one day at the top.

Hampton’s claim to fame, he said, is having been booed off the stage at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. At the televised appearance, Hampton was forced to stop in the middle of his song because the vocal rejections by the audience wouldn’t let up. His saving grace about the experience is that it was by anyone’s assessment an understandable case of a performer mismatched to the audience. They were a hip-hop crowd, a young crowd with raw emotions spilling out to the aisles. He sang a Teddy Pendergrass tune, “Only You.” It wasn’t a slow ballad, but an up tempo tune. But it was like mixing 70’s disco with 90’s grunge, he said. The combination was just wrong.

Hampton and Riley have two self-released CDs that they sell at their performances, one which they just finished last month. Hampton also has a solo CD of gospel music. Like many artists who have gone into mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll, he has not strayed far from his gospel roots.

Hampton is a known presence as part of the musical scene to his Jamaica, Queens community where he grew up and still lives. He can be found from time to time at Thomasina’s, a Queens catering hall where he handles the sound system for the famous acts that appear there. He was there when the Temptations appeared with their second original lead singer, Dennis Edwards, who was the voice of such classics as “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” “Cloud Nine,” “Runaway Child Running Wild” and “A Song For You.”

Men of Soul’s appearance at the Aug. 23 fund-raiser at the Black Spectrum Theatre in Roy Wilkins Park, is a must-see for anyone who remembers those records and has kept them as treasures in their personal musical retrospectives. Hear brilliant recreations of classic songs by the Temptations, the Four Tops, Sam Cooke, Sam & Dave, the great Otis Redding, the Ojays, and much more with these two electrifying performers on one electric night.

For information about tickets, call Andrew Barnes at 516-503-9096.

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