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Remembering 70 Soul Music Artists of 2020.

As others who have made it their mission to remember our music artists this year. Detroit Hot Radio is too making it our mission to pay tribute to those we lost.

(January 20, 2020) He was known by millions for a single song, but what a song it was. Robert Parker, the musician and singer who shot to the top of the charts with his 1966 smash, “Barefootin’,” has died at age 89.

The New Orleans born Parker was a saxophonist with eclectic performer Professor Longhair, and became a fixture on the NOLA scene, working with such stars as Irma Thomas and Fats Domino.

(January 28, 2020) Though her career was largely behind the scenes, there is no question of the impact that singer and songwriter Thomassina Carrollyne Smith, a.k.a. Toni Smith, has had on the international music scene. We’re sad to report that according to a post on her Facebook page, Toni (also sometimes called "Tonni") has died, causes unknown.

(January 31, 2020) Atlanta guitarist Ed Stroud, known for his great work on such hits as TLC’s “Waterfalls” and some of the biggest songs by Outkast. He was 57. According to, he died at a local recording studio, causes unknown.

Stroud was well known in the Atlanta music scene, and had continued to perform for years despite health issues.

Harold Beane, a musician who worked with a who’s who of artists, ranging from Isaac Hayes to Rufus Thomas to Funkadelic. He was 73.

Before joining “the Mothership” and working with George Clinton and Funkadelic for a decade and a half, he worked for other important Memphis artists such as Al Green and Eddie Floyd.

Beane made his last major appearance at the Stax Musuem last Fall, performing his “Walk On By” solo from his wheelchair.

(February 8, 2020) the passing of singer and educator Jeff Ramsey, who died after a brief illness. A graduate from the Berklee College of Music, Jeff toured and recorded the world over with such artists as Lalah Hathaway, Al Jarreau, Patrice Rushen, Maxwell, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, and Barbara Streisand, before truly making a mark on his own.

Keyboardist extraordinaire Lyle Mays, best known for his work in the Pat Metheny Group, and the winner of 11 Grammy Awards for his compositions and collaborations. Mays died after a long battle with a recurring illness. He was 66.

James Carmichael, lead singer for the popular 70s act Instant Funk, and the recognizable vocalist for that and other hits by the group (he is unrelated to the James Carmichael who was the noted producer for The Commodores and Lionel Richie). He was 71 and had been suffering from diabetes.

Trudy Melvin of Harold Melvin's Blue Notes

McCoy Tyner (jazz pianist)

Barbara Martin of the Supremes

Mickey Atkins of Funkadelic

Skip Mahoney of The Casuals

Kenny Rogers (singer)

James Mays of the Van Dykes

Sandy Anderson of Unlimited Touch

Wallace Roney (trumpeter)

Ronn Matlock (singer and songwriter)

April 3, 2020 The great singer and songwriter, Bill Withers, at the age of 81. Known for a string of iconic songs and albums that touched on authentic human emotions in a way that acutely resonates now, four decades after his commercial peak, Withers became one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. He was beloved by soul, jazz, rock, pop and folk audiences alike, and the outpouring of emotion we expect on this day will ironically contrast with his own laid back, self-deprecating style.

UK soul man, Bill Randle. Known for his Science of Soul radio show, broadcast on stations throughout the Europe and USA, Bill was among the most passionate soul music lovers anywhere. His show had a huge following, as he actively interviewed soul music greats, and always had a strong playlist running. And he was a virtually omnipresent figure at every major soul music event - a tireless supporter of both classic and independent soul music.

Patrick Gibson of the Gibson Brothers

Onaje Allan Gumbs (jazz great)

Bruni Pagan (disco star)

Vaughan Mason (singer)

Sweet Sable (singer)

Detroit singer Larry Griffin, founder of the popular R&B vocal group Serieux.

Serieux is a traditional soul vocal group that was founded in 1998 by Griffin, Valenica Taylor, Donovan Johnson (Musical Director) and Robert Grande (Road Manager) to recreate the style of classic soul groups like the Temptations, the Four Tops and the Manhattans.

Eddie Cooley (singer and songwriter)

Barney Ales (Motown executive)

Hamilton Bohannon (singer and producer)

Sir Dean Gant (songwriter and producer)

April 30, 2020. The great Bobby Lewis, who has died at age 97.

The Indiana native performed as a singer in Indianapolis with the Leo Hines Orchestra, but moved to New York to jumpstart a solo singing career. After a few minor releases, he hit paydirt in 1960 (at age 35) with “Tossin’ and Turnin’,” one of the defining songs of the era. It was a monster recording, topping the charts for nearly two months, and has been recorded by countless other acts over the years – but none bested Lewis’s original.

Lewis hit the chart again a year later with the hit “One Track Mind,” which landed in the top ten, but that became his last major release, as his label, Beltone Records, went out of business. Unfortunately, he was not able to rekindle his career well for his future label, ABC-Paramount.

Despite his limited recording period, Lewis reportedly continued to perform well into his 90s, and was adored by his East Coast audiences.

Sweet Pea Atkinson of Was (Not) Was

Andre Harrell (Uptown Records founder)

(May 9, 2020) Richard Wayne Penniman, better as Little Richard, who died today at age 87, reportedly of bone cancer. He was, for a time, among the biggest stars in the world. And he is certainly one of the seminal figures in the development of rock and roll. Both flamboyant and charismatic, he set the bar for the showmanship and created a style that would be mimicked by artists for the next two generations.

Legendary singer and songwriter Betty Wright, at age 66 died May 10, 2020.

One of the most talented and underrated vocalists of her generation, Betty Wright has only recently received a fraction of the accolades she deserves for her notable career as a singer, songwriter and pioneering independent recording artist. She was recently honored in an episode of TV One's flagship series, Unsung.

Wesley "Pike" Hall (of BT Express)

Willie Wild Sparks of Graham Central Station

Tyrone "The Bone" Proctor (Soul Train dancer)

June 8, 2020. Bonnie Pointer, member of the iconic group The Pointer Sisters has died at age 69. The Pointers were of the truly original acts of the 70s and 80s, with their own sense of style and song that made them stand out and be noticed.

Larome Powers (soul singer)

Sandra Feva (singer)

Eddie Ray Johnson of the GroovaLottos

Louie Patton of Side Effect

Marvin Brown of the Softones

The great Sharon Paige, who came to fame as a singer who worked with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, particularly on the memorable ballad, “I Hope That We Can Be Together Soon.” While not a permanent member of the Blue Notes, Paige was a frequent collaborator who took on a larger role after the departure of lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.

Reggie Haynes of The Escorts

Troy Sneed (Gospel singer)

Joseph B. Jefferson (songwriter)

Helen Jones Woods (historic bandleader)

D.J. Rogers (singer)

Clarence Burke, Sr (father of The Five Stairsteps)

Former Temptations lead singer Bruce Williamson has died at Mountain View Hospital in his home town of Las Vegas at a very young age 49, reportedly from COVID-19 complications.

Williamson was lead singer for the Temptin’ Tempts from 2006 until 2015, and kept a very busy touring schedule around the world. He replaced soul legend G.C. Cameron, and was the principal lead on the group’s albums Back To Front (2007) and Still Here (2010). After nine years, he left the Tempts in 2015 and was replaced by former Tower of Power singer Larry Braggs.

Ronald Bell a.k.a. Khalis Bayyan, co-founder, saxman and 50+ year member of the legendary group Kool & The Gang. Bell reportedly died in his home of a heart attack. He was 68.

Formed by Bell along with his brother Robert "Kool" Bell and bunch of their New Jersey teenage friends in the mid-60s (then called the Jazziacs), the group played traditional jazz in regional venues for several years, slowly morphing their style to incorporate emerging funk sounds of Sly and the Family Stone and James Brown. They were signed by the De-Lite label in the early 70s and gathered a small but loyal national following (particularly for their 1971 release Live at the Sex Machine). The group's fortunes exploded in 1974 with Wild and Peaceful, an infectiously raw album that spawned three smash hits, "Funky Stuff," "Hollywood Swinging," and "Jungle Boogie," all featuring great instrumentation and lyrics virtually shouted by the group. However, as quickly as they rode to fame, Kool & the Gang faded, their rough sound appearing out of place against the slick, dance-oriented sounds that began to dominate popular radio in the late 70s.

September 11, 2020. Guitarist and singer in the funky band Slave, the great Mr. Danny Webster. He was 61.

Edna Wright of The Honey Cone

Roy C (Southern Soul Singer)

Pamela Hutchinson of The Emotions

Georgia Dobbins Davis of The Marvelettes

Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power

Jimmy Williams (legendary bass guitarist)

(October 31, 2020) The word “legend” only begins to tell the story of Bishop Rance Allen, one of the greatest artists of his time, and a singer who became iconic in both soul and Gospel music. He was age 71.

One of twelve children of Thomas and Emma Pearl Allen, Rance was born in Monroe, Michigan (near the Ohio border), and began performing at a young age. Allen was gifted as a pianist and guitarist, and of course as a singer.

Len Barry (singer)

Bruce Swedien (famed audio engineer)

Gordon Keith (music producer)

Buddy Banks of The Rude Boys

Richie Rome (Philadelphia producer and arranger)

Gwendolyn Oliver Wesley of The Ritchie Family

John Fletcher, a.k.a. “Ecstasy,” vocalist and co-founder of the hip hop group Whodini. He was 56.

Started in the early 80s in Brooklyn by Fletcher, vocalist Jalil Hutchins and turntable artist DJ Drew Carter, a.k.a. Grandmaster Dee, Whodini was one of the first rap groups to add R&B twist to their music, thus laying the foundation for a new genre - new jack swing. The group made its name with good-humored songs such as "Magic's Wand" (the first rap song accompanied by a video), "The Haunted House of Rock", "Friends", "Five Minutes Of Funk" and "Freaks Come Out at Night".

Kimberly Washington (noted radio personality)

Rudy Salas of Tierra

Let's remember them. This year has not been kind to many of us. And as it come to an end, let's keep the memory of those who bought us joy in music. (Source:

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