You ever consider an artist’s work that you’re pretty sure has been with you your entire life? For those of us of a certain age, we can certainly say that about one Dennis Edwards former lead singer of the Temptations as well as a musical titan in his own right through his solo work. Edwards died last week at the age of 74. We’re not too far from the holiday season and Edwards’iconic “In my mind…” from The Tempts 1980 recording of “Silent Night” is still reverberating and now this news of another library closing.

How Sweet The Sound

Listen here… Born in Alabama Dennis Edwards was a preacher’s son who began singing in his father’s church Rev. Dennis Edwards Sr. at the oh so tender age of two. Like many gifted musicians who are raised in church Edwards served as a choir director, sang with Gospel Groups and studied at The Detroit Conservatory of Music(the family having moved to Detroit when Edwards was 10). An unmistakeable rich vocal sound is what I’ve always been struck by when listening to Dennis Edwards. Authoritative but with a tenderness at the core, when he stepped to the microphone he meant business. Take a listen to that sound on full display on the 1972 classic “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”.

Charcoal

As in the heat, the fire as in the gathering and the soundtrack. That’s what comes to mind anytime this GFM classic with Siedah Garrett comes on. In the last thirty odd years if you’ve attended a cookout and “Don’t Look Any Further” hasn’t been played you should ask yourself “Did I really attend a cookout?” Yes it’s that serious because what Dennis Edwards recorded is that serious. A call to attention, an urgency a yearning, a manifesto(emphasis on man) that you don’t need to look any further is pretty convincing here.

Dennis Edwards will be remembered as a singer’s singer, a vocal force of nature. I, like I’m sure so many of us, count ourselves fortunate to have been around to witness such musicianship in real-time. He will be missed but his legacy endures.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.