Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees, Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement and Trustee Award-winners, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, legendary songwriters, record producers, and co-founders of the historic “Sound of Philadelphia/Philly Sound,” will come to New York University on Tuesday, March 3, as featured guests at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions at NYU. Launched in 2011, the Master Sessions are a collaboration between the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the NYU Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at the NYU Steinhardt School. Gamble & Huff will discuss their five-decade-and-counting career with Phil Galdston, NYU Faculty Songwriter-in-Residence and Master Teacher of Songwriting.
“Gamble and Huff are two of the most important and influential music creators and executives of our time,” noted Ron Sadoff, chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions and director of its songwriting program. “Over a remarkable 50-year career, they have created a body of work so strong that it is indelibly embedded in our culture.”
“We are thrilled that Kenny and Leon will be the next guests at our upcoming Master Session,” said SHOF President/CEO Linda Moran. It will be a rare opportunity for NYU students and SHOF members to get a first-hand insight into the remarkable achievements of two of the most admired and respected icons in music industry history.”
The Gamble-Huff collaborative chemistry generated a series of massive hits throughout the 1960s, including “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations, the Soul Survivors’ “Expressway To Your Heart,” and the Intruder’s 1968 breakout “Cowboys To Girls.” In 1971, Gamble and Huff founded Philadelphia International Records (PIR) as the outlet for their creative vision. They built a stable of Philly-based talent, including Patti LaBelle, Archie Bell & the Drells, Jerry Butler, the Ebonys, the Intruders, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, MFSB, the Three Degrees, Teddy Pendergrass, and Lou Rawls. PIR recordings topped the charts from day one, at one point selling more than 10 million records in a nine month period, with hits like Billy Paul’s “Me & Mrs. Jones” (a Grammy-winning #1 pop and R&B smash), Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” and the O’Jays’ “Backstabbers” and “Love Train.”
By 1973, PIR was second only to Motown as the largest African-American owned company in America and became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the Philly Soul sound, a unique blend of R&B rhythms, sweet soul vocals, deep funk grooves, pulsing horn charts and lush string arrangements with melodic structures combining elements of pop, jazz and world music. Beyond Gamble and Huff, PIR was the home to some of the 20th century’s most influential producers and production teams, including, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, Bunny Sigler, Dexter Wansel, Joe Tarsia and others. As a result the Gamble-Huff/PIR music machine was responsible for generating over 60 Gold and Platinum records, producing and writing over 3,000 songs and charting over 25 number one hits. It has been reported that one of Gamble and Huff’s songs is played on the radio somewhere in the world every 13.5 minutes.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions @ NYU was established to bring to the NYU community the great songwriters who have inspired music creators and music lovers alike. An in-depth interview (including a Q&A with students) leavened with performance and demonstration, the Sessions are curated and moderated by GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and producer Phil Galdston. Previous editions have featured Hal David, Jimmy Webb, Glenn Frey, Nile Rodgers, Valerie Simpson, David Byrne, and a joint Session with Felix Cavaliere and John Sebastian.
“In a time when music creators must wear many hats, we’re very fortunate to have Messrs. Gamble and Huff, two of the ultimate musical multi-taskers, join us for a Master Session,” said Galdston. “Not only will our students have an extraordinary opportunity for an up-close-and-personal view of the art and craft of songwriting, producing, and collaborating, they’ll hear from two pioneers who created one of the world’s most successful music companies.”
The Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Sessions at NYU are held at the historic Provincetown Playhouse, 133 MacDougal Street, just west of Washington Square. Visit the Songwriting Program at NYU Steinhardt, for more information.