WASHINGTON, DC — In 1971, Sylvester Stewart, leader of Sly & The Family Stone, released one of his stellar hit songs, titled “Family Affair.” The tune reflected the core success of Sly’s band, considering the core-group consisted of his sister, Rose Stewart; guitarist/brother, Freddie Stewart and later additions, a group called Little Sister, which featured two more sisters from the Stewart family.
Sly’s band really typifies a tradition of black music and rhythm and blues singers that very rarely, if ever, gets spotlighted as a phenomena that helps spur many of these successful artists or groups onto major success.
In addition, a large portion of these artists share a foundation stemming from their Christian heritage. The Rev. Shirley Caesar, Gospel’s reigning Queen, was likewise influenced as a child by her father/pastor, “Big Jim” Caesar. Along with her 11 siblings, the Rev Caesar would ultimately forge her talents from small, Durham-based churches to the mega arenas, where she now performs worldwide.
THE REV. SHIRLEY CAESAR HAILS FROM A FAMILY OF GOSPEL SINGERS FROM DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA.
During a recent conversation with Washington, DC-bred crooner and current lead singer with New Edition, Johnny Gill described the special nuances that occur within family members who ultimately become bandmates.
Gill says he got started singing with his gospel family group, the Wings of Faith featuring the Gill Brothers – himself, Randy, Jeff and Bobby. “You develop a special harmonic blend with family. There’s nothing like it,” Gill explained.
Jazz great John Coltrane, is another North Carolinian whose familial musical genes continued to develop after his untimely death in July 1967, at age 40. His son, Ravi Coltrane is a renowned saxophonist, while daughter Michelle Coltrane, has also earned accolades as a talented jazz vocalist – both following their father’s acclaim as arguably the greatest-ever jazz saxophonist. Their mother, the late Alice Coltrane, also became an accomplished pianist/composer prior to her death in January 2007.
Like Gill, in the tradition of black music and rhythm and blues, countless members of successful groups from various genres, can trace their notable streams of success to their family bloodlines. This particular article shines a unique light on several notable groups who uniquely gained stardom via their early connections that were developed while most were still under auspices of their parents’ protective roofs.
This subsequent alphabetized listing provides a lineup of several popular bands or performance groups that rate as family-oriented acts that first succeeded under their own family flags. And, the Beat Goes On!!!
ABRAHAM BROTHERS: Touring gospel group, North Augusta, SC
ADDERLEY FAMILY: Julian ‘Cannonball” Adderley, Nat Adderley Sr., Nat Adderley Jr., Tampa, FLA.
AFTER 7 – EDMONDS BROTHERS: Kevon Edmonds and Melvin Edmonds, Jason Edmonds (Melvin’s son), Indianapolis, IN
ALLEN BROTHERS: Rodney Allen (father), supporting cast of sons, Pittsburgh, PA
ROEBUCK “POPS” STAPLES AND HIS DAUGHTERS ARE THE STAPLES SINGERS.
ARCHIE BELL & THE DRELLS: BELL BROTHERS: Archie Bell and Lee Bell, Houston, Texas
ARETHA FRANKLIN , FRANKLIN SISTERS: (Carla, Irma & ReeRee), Rev. CL Franklin, (father), Rev. Cecil Franklin(brother), Detroit, Michigan
ASHFORD & SIMPSON: husband/wife duo, Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Ray Simpson (Valerie’s brother), New York City
ATLANTIC STARR: LEWIS BROTHERS: David Lewis, Wayne Lewis and Jonathan Lewis, White Plains, New York
BARRINO FAMILY: Fantasia Barrino and Ricco Barrino, (uncles The Barrino Brothers: Nathaniel Barrino, Perry Barrino and Julius Barrino), High Point, North Carolina
BARRY WHITE: Glodean White (wife), Galveston, Texas
BETTERS BROTHERS: Harold Betters and Jerry Betters, Connellsville, PA
BLUE MAGIC, SAWYER BROTHERS: Vernon Sawyer and Wendell Sawyer, Philadelphia, PA
BOOTSY’S RUBBER BAND , COLLINS BROTHERS: William “Bootsy” Collins and Phelps “Catfish” Collins, Cincinnati, Ohio
BRAXTON FAMILY: Toni Braxton, Trina Braxton, Traci Braxton, Towanda Braxton, Tamar Braxton, Michael Braxton Jr., Evelyn Braxton (mother), Severn, Maryland
BROOKS FAMILY, Cecil Brooks, Cecil Brooks Jr., Cecil Brooks III, Cecil Brooks IV, Pittsburgh, PA
BROTHERS JOHNSON: George Johnson and Louis Johnson, Los Angeles, CA
BROTHER2BROTHER: Carter Brothers, Chuckie Carter and Winston Carter, Pittsburgh, PA
BRUNO MARS: Originally performed with his family-band and troupe, Honolulu, Hawaii
BROWN SISTERS, (Willie Mae (Brown) Richmond, grandmother; Lisa Knowles, granddaughter), MEMPHIS, TENN.
CAMEO: LEFTENANT BROTHERS: Nathan Leftenant and Arnett Leftenant, New York, NY
CANTON SPIRITUALS: Harvey Watkins Sr. and Harvey Watkins Jr., Canton, Miss.
CHAMBERS BROTHERS: George Chambers, Lester Chambers, Willie Chambers and Joe Chambers, Carthage, Mississippi
CISSY HOUSTON, WHITNEY HOUSTON: Mother-Daughter, Newark, New Jersey
COLE FAMILY: Nat King Cole, Ike Cole, Eddie Cole, Freddy Cole, Natalie Cole and Eddie Cole Jr., Montgomery, ALA/Chicago, Ill.
NAT KING COLE WITH DAUGHTER NATALIE COLE.
COLTRANE FAMILY: John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane and Michelle Coltrane, High Point, NC/Hamlet, NC
COOKE BROTHERS: Sam Cooke, LC Cooke and Charles Cooke, (Linda Cooke and Carol Cooke, Sam’s daughters), Chicago, Ill.
CORNELIUS BROTHERS AND SISTER ROSE, CORNELIUS FAMILY:Carter Cornelius, Eddie Cornelius, Rose Cornelius and Billie Jo Cornelius, Dania, FLA
COX BROTHERS: Lonzie Cox Jr., Raphael Cox, Ronnie Cox, Timmy Cox; Michelle Lynn Bell, Lawrence James Bell, Beaver Falls, PA/Canton, OH
CURTIS LEWIS SINGERS: Curtis Lewis Sr., Curtis Lewis Jr., Aliquippa, PA
DEBARGE FAMILY: Eldra “El” DeBarge, Ettterline “Bunny” DeBarge, James DeBarge, Bobby DeBarge, James DeBarge, Mark DeBarge, Randy DeBarge, Grand Rapids, MI
DELFONICS – HART BROTHERS: William “Poogie” Hart and Wilbert Hart, Philadelphia, PA
DIONNE WARWICK and DEE DEE WARWICK: cousins of Cissy Houston and Whitney Houston, also a cousin of opera singer Leontyne Price, Newark, New Jersey
DOWE FAMILY: Al Dowe, Sandra Dowe and Etta Cox, Pittsburgh, PA
EARTH, WIND AND FIRE – WHITE BROTHERS: Maurice White, Verdine White, Freddie White, Memphis, TN; Chicago, Ill
EWF FEATURED WHITE BROTHERS, MAURICE, VERDINE AND FREDDIE.
EDDIE LEVERT (O’Jays): Gerald Levert and Sean Levert (Eddie’s sons); Canton, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio
EL POOKS, STRINGFIELD FAMILY: Bobby Stringfield and siblings, Aliquippa, PA
EMOTIONS – HUTCHINSON SISTERS: Sheila Hutchinson, Pamela Hutchinson, Wanda Hutchinson and Jeannette Hutchinson, Chicago, Ill.
EUBANKS FAMILY: Kevin Eubanks, Robin Eubanks, David Eubanks, Vera Eubanks (mother), Duane Eubanks, Charles Eubanks; Ray Bryant and Tommy Bryant (cousins), Philadelphia, PA
FIVE STAIRSTEPS, BURKE FAMILY: Alohe Jean Burke, Clarence Burke Jr., James Burke, Dennis Burke, Keni Burke and Cubie Burke, Chicago, Ill.
FULL-FORCE, GEORGE BROTHERS: Paul Anthony George, Lucien “Bowlegged Lou” George Jr., Brian “B-Finer” George; with cousins Junior “ShyShy” Clark, Curt “T-T” Bedeau and Gerry “Baby Gee” Charles, Brooklyn, NY
GAP BAND, WILSON BROTHERS: Charlie Wilson, Ronnie Wilson and Robert Wilson, Tulsa, Oklahoma
GARNER BROTHERS: Erroll Garner, Ernest Garner and Linton Garner, Pittsburgh, PA
GAZELLE BAND & SHOW, ROBINSON FAMILY: Bill Robinson, Monica Robinson, Michael Robinson and Michelle Robinson, Pittsburgh, PA
GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS: Gladys Knight, Merald “Bubba” Knight, with cousins William “Red” Guest and Edward Patten, Atlanta, GA
GILBERT FAMILY: Janine Gilbert and Ricky Gilbert, Aliquippa, PA
GUY: HALL BROTHERS: Aaron Hall and Damion Hall, Harlem, NY
GEORGE MCCRAE: (wife) Gwen McCrae, West Palm Beach, FLA
HARPER BROTHERS, Walt Harper, Nate Harper and Ernie Harper, Pittsburgh, PA
HARPER BROTHERS: Winard Harper and Philip Harper, Atlanta, GA/Baltimore, MD
HATHAWAY FAMILY: Donny Hathaway, Eulaulah Hathaway, Kenya Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway, St. Louis, Mo/Chicago, Ill
HAWKINS FAMILY: Edwin Hawkins, Walter Hawkins, Danny Hawkins, Lynette Hawkins, Tremaine Hawkins, Oakland, CA
HEATH BROTHERS: Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Albert “Tootie” Heath and James “Mtume” Heath (Jimmy’s son), Philadelphia, PA;
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE FEATURED SLY STEWART, ROSE AND FREDDIE STEWART.
HEATH BROTHERS: David Heath, James Heath, William Heath, Augusta, Georgia
HEATWAVE: WILDER BROTHERS: Johnnie Wilder Jr. and Keith Wilder, Dayton, Ohio
HOLLAND & HOLLAND: Eddie Holland& Brian Holland (Motown writers), Detroit, MI
HUMPHRIES FAMILY: Roger Humphries Sr., Lawrence Humphries, Teddy Humphries, Norman Humphries, Roger Humphries Jr., Gregory Humphries, Pittsburgh (North Side), PA
ISLEY BROTHERS: Ronnie Isley, Rudolph Isley, Vernon Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Marvin Isley, Ernie Isley and bro-in-law, Chris Jasper, Cincinnati, Ohio
ISLEY JASPER ISLEY: Ernie Isley, Christopher Jasper and Marvin Isley, Teaneck, NJ
INGRAM BROTHERS: James Ingram and Philip Ingram, Akron, Ohio
INGRAM FAMILY: Norman “Butch” Ingram, Jimmy Ingram, Barbara Ingram, Billy Ingram, John Ingram, Timmy Ingram, Francis Ingram, and Edith Ingram, Camden, New Jersey/Philadelphia, PA
JACKSONS, Michael Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Jackie Jackson, Toriano “Tito” Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Randy Jackson, Rebe Jackson, LaToya Jackson and Janet Jackson, Gary, Indiana
JACKSON FAMILY OF GARY, INDIANA; AGUABLY
THE PREMIERE FAMILY ACT OF ALL-TIME.
JAGGED EDGE, CASEY BROTHERS: Brian Casey and Brandon Casey, Atlanta, GA
JAMES BROWN, PARKER BROTHERS: Maceo Parker and Melvin Parker, Kinston, North Carolina
JANET JACKSON: Jackson Family Sister, Gary, Indiana
JODECI, HAILEY BROTHERS: Cedric “K-Ci” Hailey and Joel “JoJo” Hailey; DEGRATE BROTHERS: Donald “DeVante’ Swing” DeGrate, Dalvin “Mr. Dalvin” DeGrate, Charlotte, North Carolina
JOHNNY GILL: GILL BROTHERS aka Wings of Faith: Johnny Gill, Randy Gill, Jeff Gill and Bobby Gill, Washington, DC
JONES BROTHERS: Elvin Jones, Thad Jones, Hank Jones, Vicksburg, MISS/Pontiac, MI
THE JONES GIRLS: Brenda Jones, Shirley Jones and Valorie Jones, Detroit, MI
KAY-GEES, CHEEK BROTHERS: Michael Cheek and Callie Cheek; Kevin Bell (Kool Bell’s younger brother), Jersey City, New Jersey
KENNY ‘BABYFACE’ EDMONDS AND AFTER 7: Melvin Edmonds and Kevon Edmonds.
KING BROTHERS: Floyd King, Carl King, Pittsburgh, PA
KOOL & THE GANG: BELL BROTHERS: Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald “Khalis” Bell, Youngstown, Ohio/Jersey City, NJ.
KNOWLES SISTERS: Beyoncé Knowles and Solange Knowles, Houston, Texas
LAWS FAMILY: Hubert Laws, Ronnie Laws, Debra Laws and Eloise Laws, Houston, Texas
LEVERT: Gerald Levert and Sean Levert, Cleveland, Ohio
LTD – OSBORNE BROTHERS: Jeffrey Osborne and Billy Osborne, Providence, Rhode Island.
MAC BAND: MCCAMBELL BROTHERS; Ray McCampbell, Charles McCampbell, Derrick McCampbell and Kelvin McCampbell, Flint, MI
MANDRILL – WILSON BROTHERS: Carlos Wilson, Lou Wilson and Ric Wilson, Panama/Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn, NY)
MARCELS: JOHNSON BROTHERS: Freddie Johnson and Allen Johnson, Pittsburgh, PA
MARSALIS FAMILY: Ellis Marsalis Sr. (grandfather); Ellis Marsalis Jr. (father), Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis and Jason Marsalis, New Orleans, LA
MASS PRODUCTION: WILLIAMS BROTHERS: Ricardo Williams & Tyrone Williams, Norfolk, VA
MCCLURKIN FAMILY: Rev. Donnie McClurkin and Regi Clurkin, New York, NY and Baltimore, MD
MIDNIGHT STAR: CALLOWAY BROTHERS: Reggie Calloway and Vincent Calloway, Cincinnati, Ohio
MILLS BROTHERS, John Mills Sr. (father), John Mills Jr., Herbert Mills, Harry Mills, Donald Mills, Piqua, Ohio (Dayton suburb).
THE MILLS BROTHERS WERE ONE OF THE FIRST FAMOUS FAMILY ACTS.
MIZELL BROTHERS: Alphonso “Fonce” Mizell, Larry Mizell, Rodney Mizell, New York, NY
MONTGOMERY BROTHERS: Wes Montgomery, Buddy Montgomery, Monk Montgomery, Indianapolis, Indiana.
NEVILLE BROTHERS: Art Neville, Charles Neville, Aaron Neville, Cyril Neville and Ivan Neville, New Orleans, LA
NEW BIRTH, WILSON BROTHERS: Leslie Wilson and Melvin Wilson, Louisville, KY/Detroit, MI
NEW HORIZONS: THOMAS BROTHERS: Art Thomas, Bart Thomas, Mark Thomas and Varges Thomas, Dayton, Ohio
PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: Garry Shider and Garrett Shider, Benny Cowan and Benjamin “Benzel” Cowan Jr., Plainfield, NJ/Baltimore, MD
PERRI: PERRY SISTERS: Carol Perry, Darlene Perry, Sharon Perry and Lori Perry, Detroit, MI
PERRIN FAMILY: Willie Joe Perrin Jr. and Kenneith “LJ” Perrin, Augusta, GA
PLEASURE, HEPBURN BROTHERS: Donald Hepburn and Michael Hepburn, Portland, Oregon.
POCKETS BAND: GRAINGER BROTHERS: Gary Grainger and Glenn Grainger, Baltimore, MD
POINTER SISTERS: Ruth Pointer, Bonnie Pointer, June Pointer, Anita Pointer, Issa Pointer and Sadako Pointer, Oakland, CA
GOSPEL SONGS ARE WHAT HELPED CREATE THE POINTER SISTERS UNIQUE SISTER SOUND.
POWELL BROTHERS: Earl “Bud” Powell and Richie Powell, Harlem, NY
RANCE ALLEN GROUP: Rance Allen, Thomas Allen and Steve Allen, Monroe, Michigan/Toledo, Ohio
RARE EXPERIENCE: OTEY BROTHERS, Maurice Otey and Michael Otey, Aliquippa, PA
RAYDIO, CARMICHAEL BROTHERS: Arnell Carmichael and Darren Carmichael, Detroit, Michigan
ROGER & ZAPP: Roger Troutman, Lester Troutman, Terry “Zapp” Troutman, Larry Troutman, Thomas Troutman, Roger Troutman Jr., (Dale Degroat and Shirley Murdock/husband-wife), Dayton, Ohio.
RUFFIN BROTHERS: DAVID RUFFIN AND JIMMY RUFFIN, Whynot, Misssissippi
RUFUS THOMAS – and Daughter CARLA THOMAS, Memphis, TN
RUN DMC, SIMMONS BROTHERS: Russell Simmons, Danny Simmons and Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, Hollis-Queens, NY
SAMPSON & DELILAH, Anthony “Samson” Mitchell and wife, Beatrice “Delilah” Mitchell, Buffalo, NY/Alliance, OH
SHIRLEY CAESAR, CAESAR FAMILY: “Big Jim” Caesar (father), Caesar siblings, gospel troupe, Durham, NC
THE BRAXTON SISTERS FEATURING BREAKOUT BIG SISTER, TONI BRAXTON, ARE SIBLING SENSATIONS.
SISTER SLEDGE: Debbie Sledge, Joni Sledge, Kim Sledge and Kathy Sledge, Philadelphia, PA
SKYY, BUNNING SISTERS: Denise Dunning Wilkinson, Bonnie Dunning Williams and Delores Dunning Milligan, Brooklyn, NY
SLY& THE FAMILY STONE, STEWART FAMILY: Sylvester “Sly” Stewart, Rose Stewart, Freddie Stewart and Vet Stewart, Oakland, CA
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES – William “Smokey” Robinson, then-wife Claudette Rogers Robinson and her cousin, Bobby Rogers, Detroit, MI
STAPLES SINGERS: Roebuck “Pops” Staples (father), Mavis Staples, Cleotha Staples, Pervis Staples and Yvonne Staples, Chicago, Ill
SWITCH: DeBarge Brothers; Tommy DeBarge and Bobby DeBarge, Grand Rapids, MI/Mansfield, Ohio
SYLVERS FAMILY: Olympia Ann Sylvers, Leon Sylvers, Charmaine Sylvers, James Sylvers, Edmund Sylvers, Ricky Sylvers, Angie Sylvers Pat Sylvers and Foster Sylvers , Watts/LA, CA
TAVERES: TAVARES BROTHERS: Ralph Tavares, Arthur “Pooch” Tavares, Antone “Chubby” Tavares, Feliciano “Butch” Tavares and Perry “Tiny” Tavares.
TAYLORS: Johnnie Taylor and son, Floyd Taylor, Crawfordville, Ark/Dallas, Texas
TAYOR FAMILY: Mike Taylor and cousins Timmy Mabin and siblings, Bridgewater, PA
TIME: Terry Lewis and brother, Jerome Benton; Minneapolis, Minn.
THREE (3) T’s: TITO JACKSON’S SONS: Toriano Adaryll Jackson, Jr. (Taj), Taryll Adren Jackson and Tito Joe Jackson (TJ), Encino, CA
TONY! TONI! TONE’!: WIGGINS BROTHERS: Raphael Saadiq Wiggins, Dwayne Wiggins; Cousin, Timothy Christian Riley, Oakland, CA
TONY HOWARD BAND: Tony Howard Sr. and Tony Howard Jr., Augusta, GA
T & T FLASHERS, BROWN BROTHERS: Stanley Brown and TC Brown, Steubenville, Ohio
TURRENTINES: Thomas Turrentine Sr., Tommy Turrentine Jr., Stanley Turrentine, Pittsburgh, PA
WHISPERS – The Scott Brothers: Walter Scott and Wallace “Scotty” Scott, Los Angeles, CA
WILLIAMS BROTHERS: Leon “Pop” Williams (father), Leonard Williams, Doug Williams, Melvin Williams, Jackson, Miss.
WILSON SISTERS (Penny Wilson and Crystal Wilson); Shanice Wilson (Crystal’s daughter, Penny’s niece) Carl Black (Shanice’s father), Pittsburgh, PA
WINANS FAMILY: Ronald Winans, Marvin Winans, Carvin Winans, Michael Winans, BeBe Winans, CeCe Winans, Vickie Winans, Mario Winans, Angie Winans, Debbie Winans, Detroit, MI
WOMACK BROTHERS (The Valentinos): Bobby Womack, Cecil Womack, Friendly Womack Jr., Harry Womack. Cleveland, Ohio
WOOTEN BROTHERS: Victor Wooten, Joseph Wooten, Regi Wooten, Roy Wooten, Rudy Wooten and Joseph Wooten, Williamsburg, Virginia.
WRECKX-N-EFFECT: RILEY BROTHERS: Teddy Riley and Markell Riley, Harlem, NY.