A BMHC Special Event
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 7PM
Honoring A Bronx Living Legend!
A special honor bestowed by our colleagues from the Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC) on Bronx Living Legend – Arlene Smith. A FREE EVENT!
A Bronx Living Legends concert and award ceremony hosted by Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC).
Honoring Arlene Smith founding member of The Chantels.
BMHC honors Arlene Smith for her pioneering work in one of the earliest all-female a cappella harmony groups, which ushered in the “girl group” era and helped to make Morrisania in the Bronx one of the most important centers of the door woo music scene.
Arlene was a singer and songwriter for the group who topped the charts with such hits as, “Maybe.” The evening’s event features a live performances of songs Arlene sang and wrote.
Greg Woods, keyboards
Cleveland Freeman, bass
Reggie Barnes, drums
Ervan Waters, guitar
MC: multi-Grammy nominated musician,
ARLENE SMITH was the lead voice in the vocal group The Chantels, which she founded in 1957 with four girlfriends who attended St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School on Prospect and 166th Street in the Bronx. The Chantels were part of a musical scene that has come to be called “doo-wop” but at the time was known as R&B music. Arlene came from a musical family as both her parents sang and at Sunday dinner they would sing duets together. Arlene’s training was in classical (not Gospel) music from the choirs she took part in since the 2nd grade. The popular singers of the time who inspired her included Sarah Vaugh, Billy Eckstine and Louis Jordan. But what really spurred Arlene to form the group was the success of Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. When she saw how successful Lymon was at the age of 14 it gave renewed purpose to all the time she spent rehearsing. The first hit by the Chantels was a song written by Arlene called, He’s Gone. After that came Maybe which she co-wrote with Richard Barrett. It was the first song by a “girl group” to sell a million records. Rolling Stone magazine has described Arlene as the best female vocalist in the history of rock-n-roll and has called her the “Queen of Doo-Wop.”
THE CHANTELS came out of the Bronx, New York, in the early 1950s. The group’s members were students at St. Anthony of Padua School, and they took their name from that of a another Catholic school, St. Francs de Chantal. They signed their first recording contract, with End Records, in 1957, but the record, “He’s Gone“, wasn’t a hit, but, in later years, a popular request on Oldies and Doo Wop stations. Their next record, however, was their biggest hit and is considered a classic of “doo-wop” girl groups: Maybe, written by lead singer Arlene Smith. Maybe was later successfully covered by Janis Joplin, as Maybe Maybe Maybe. It sold over a million copies for The Chantels and was performed by them, in 1958, on TV’s “American Bandstand”, “The Saturday Night Dick Clark Show” and locally in NYC on Ted Steele’s “Dance Time”. Though their next 2 singles Every Nigh” and I Love You So didn’t chart as well, the recordings received considerable airplay and are considered classics today. The Chantels were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC)
BMHC celebrates the rich history and creative spirit that defines Bronx music, from jazz, salsa, R&B and hip hop to new sounds coming to life across the borough. Founded by the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco), the BMHC is committed to preserving and promoting Bronx music, cultivating Bronx artists, spurring neighborhood revival, and providing free cultural programs for the community.
575 Walton Avenue
The Bronx, NY 10451
Located on Walton Avenue between 149th & 150th Streets.