Frankie Beverly, Living Legend Honor
Year after year award-winning, gold and platinum selling artists hit the road to promote the newest project and to take advantage of the publicity they are generating with new singles and red hot exposure. They are running to maximize the moment and “strike while the iron is hot!” And then there are the rare giants whose name on a marquee fills the seats, because of the music. Those are few. But even in a world of legends and icons, there is only one Frankie Beverly. The front man and lead singer for the indomitable Frankie Beverly and Maze is walking into his golden time of year, with nearly 50 years of success. His original group was founded in Philly in 1970, moved to the West Coast, San Francisco specifically, to take a chance on music and a chance connection with the undisputable soul stirrer Marvin Gaye. The Motown master would take the group under his wing and it was Gaye who suggested the group change their name. Frankie Beverly and Maze was born.
From 1977 until 1993, Frankie Beverly and Maze went on a stomp through the music industry, with hit after hit, including JOY AND PAIN, GOLDEN TIME OF DAY, WE ARE ONE, HAPPY FEELING, SOUTHERN GIRL and the song that has been touted as the unofficial theme of Summer and any gathering of people who have come to party—BEFORE I LET GO! The song is so synonymous with Black Culture and “the cookout” that The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige recorded it for the tribute project SILKY SOUL MUSIC: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO Frankie Beverly and Maze in 2009 and it rose to the top again, in 2017, when Beyonce, the hottest artist in the WORLD, wanted to close out her phenomenal game changing performance at Coachella, the California-based arts and music festival that had never been headlined by a Black woman, she chose BEFORE I LET GO. The soul stamp that Frankie Beverly— musician, songwriter, singer—has emblazoned on the culture like a tattoo, is indisputable. The prolific Nile Rogers, the producer/songwriter responsible for megahits by Chic, Daft Punk and Diana Ross, called Frankie Beverly and Maze “road warriors.” He added, “You can’t pick up a newspaper or anything without seeing their name anywhere in the world.”
Frankie Beverly and Maze is a giant of the touring landscape, in the company of rock-and-roll luminaries like The Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond, that small breed of live performers who sell more tickets than they do albums because they don’t live in the recording studio, trying to make hits. They live for the road. The music of Frankie Beverly and Maze has been sampled hundreds of times, re-recorded as covers dozens of times and even remixed by noted DJ’s. But what many don’t know is that Frankie Beverly isn’t just the lead singer. With the exception of “JOY AND PAIN,” on which he shared co-writing credits, Frankie Beverly has written ALL of the hits that have made Frankie Beverly and Maze live music juggernauts, titans who can sell out theaters and arenas with no new music! Their musical experience of Frankie Beverly and Maze is the feel good soundtrack of the soul and the center of Black Culture. And it is intentional. “The music is unique because of love. It’s got to be love. There’s bigger stuff going on. There’s other things going on in the background. We have a helper!” Frankie Beverly is clear that the music is motivated and motivational. “We are going to get down and we are going to have a good time.” Actress and singer Naturi Naughton (star of television’s POWER and the motion picture CALL HER KING) said with glee that “not too many get to make music that transcends generations and their music continues to transcend.”
Frankie Beverly is a purist, who took a masterful piece of advice from Marvin Gaye, who told him when he was trying to put together a deal for the group. “He said go ahead and do your thing because if I get a good song, I’m not gonna give it to you.” Beverly laughs as he tells the story because he originally wrote “THE MORNING AFTER” for Anita Baker and then realized what Gaye was saying about not being able to give away a great song. Frankie Beverly saves his heart for the stage and his marathon performances. He is not elusive or elitist. Frankie Beverly is here, still, in the game of music, for the music. He ministers through his music. HE is the vessel. You can hear the influence of artists/producers like Babyface or Prince in the other artists they’ve brought along because they’ve poured out upon so many others. They could have never done it all. But Frankie did it all himself, with his myriad of musicians called to work with him and walk with him as he walked through the stages of life and community. The dedicated lineup of musicians who tour with him are Maze, but Frankie Beverly is like the Preacher and the Psalmist at the same time! Frankie Beverly is the The Ambassador Of Soul whose music can change the atmosphere of any celebration, but he’d rather take a quiet walk or hike near his California home, where his life is lively and vibrant but serene, peaceful. Frankie Beverly is a laid back guy who loves the golden time of day, where he can be still and centered after traveling around the globe and entertaining the masses. Beverly is known for their minimalism, even in his simple, elegant style on stage. He is the personification of a quiet storm. He is mellow, until he is not, and the music shifts and the waves that wash over Beverly and the audience, taking them all to that place where they are indeed One!
The magnitude of the music of Frankie Beverly and Maze can be heard in the ways that other artists love on and laud about the songs. The catalog of this music maverick is the stuff of greatness, lyrically on par with The Beatles and Stevie Wonder and Kurt Carr and Donald Lawrence. Frankie Beverly’s music soothes and celebrates, causing the listener to cry and contemplate but always with a sense of ambience and joy. Beverly is the kind of genius who can read Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and from the piece titled “On Joy and Sorrow,” give birth to “Joy and Pain,” the anthemic track that is just one of the songs that the audience takes over live, testifying after the preached, or in his case sung word. His world is as warm and familiar as his music. The experience of Frankie Beverly and Maze is just like the man himself–spiritual, nearly religious, but to a place of musical meditation, a zen garden of sound that makes you stop, listen and receive. Frankie Beverly is genuinely a kind person, who tours so famously because touring always brings people together and in a social media age, his songs are having that same impact on TikTok and Instagram, looped under dancing youth who are dancing to the same songs that bring their parents and grandparents a special kind of joy. When speaking of his fans and what he hopes the people know about him and Maze and why they take the stage and create the music that feeds the culture across the ages, he offers this:
“We love them and the fans know it. It’s the real deal and our music speaks for itself!” – FRANKIE BEVERLY