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June 04, 2014

"Baby, Give It Up" With KC At Ross School



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The synthesized keyboard, rhythm guitar and syncopated high hat set the stage for a lick that's become one of disco's most famous intros. Add in that one of a kind vocal invitation -- "Baby babe, let's get together. Honey Hun, me and you" -- and you know it's time to "Get Down Tonight" with KC and the Sunshine Band's 1975 Number One Hit.

"I write music that makes people happy. And that never goes out of style," KC explained via email this week.

And that's the way, uh huh uh huh, a lot of fans like it. The group's second album KC and The Sunshine Band went platinum and was the first since The Beatles to score four number one hits in a 12-month period. Ardent fans (like, maybe, this writer) snapped up that album on vinyl, then collected it on 8-track, cassette, and CD, most recently downloading it onto the iPod.

Because one likes to shake his or her booty . . .

"My goal has always been to make records you could put on at a party to get people moving. I love what I do and I think people can see that," said the Miami native who started work in the music industry when he was just 17.

Harry Wayne Casey's music is just as popular, and celebrated, today as it was in the 70s.

With sales of over 100 million records, nine Grammy nominations, three Grammy Awards and an American Music Award, KC and the Sunshine Band has been credited with changing the sound of modern pop music. KC's music has been featured in over 75 movies, including Forrest Gump, Boogie Nights, Boys Don't Cry, Carlito's Way, and, of course, Saturday Night Fever – that soundtrack earned him Grammys for Album of the Year and Producer of the Year in 1978.

And the party hasn't stopped since then. KC exhorts folks to put on their boogie shoes at over 100 live shows every year, circling the country and performing in Europe, Australia and South America. His songs have appeared in oodles of ads, for companies like Burger King, General Motors and Old Navy.

KC and the Sunshine Band formed in 1973. Their first record, Blow Your Whistle, made it to the top of the R&B charts. The second, self-titled album featured mega-hits "Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)," "Boogie Shoes," and "Rock Your Baby" and went platinum. More hits followed with "I'm Your Boogie Man," "Shake Your Booty," and "Give It Up."

His music has been featured at sporting events, such as the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics, and on a slew of TV shows – "Desperate Housewives" and "Dancing With The Stars," to name just two. KC and the Sunshine Band have the distinction of having made more appearances on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" than any other artist in the program's history.

And plenty of musicians hop on the Sunshine Band-wagon. Music acts like White Zombie, Baha Men, Beyoncé Knowles and "American Idol's" Kelly and Justin have covered his music. This reporter has a particular fondness for Richard Simmons' quirky sing-alongs on the "Disco Sweat" workout tape.

Additionally, KC and the Sunshine Band's grooves and bass lines have been sampled in everything from R&B by R. Kelly to Rap by Snoop Dogg and Trick Daddy to Dance by Ultra Nate and many, many more.

"I'm also constantly working on new music," KC reported. "I recently collaborated with Jencarlos Canela and PSY on "Give It Up Tonight," a remake of my song "Give It Up." It's a great feeling hearing and seeing how my music has inspired the new generation just like Aretha Franklin, Blood Sweat & Tears, Joe Cocker, James Brown and others inspired me."

Inspires a new generation and keeps the older generation hustling.

This Saturday both generations get the chance to bust out their platforms, Huckapoo shirts, and wrap skirts when KC and the Sunshine Band are the featured performers at the Ross School's Eleventh Annual Live @ Club Starlight benefit. The gala raises funds for Ross School programs and scholarships, including the Steven J. Ross Scholarship Fund, which helps provide children from all economic backgrounds with the opportunity to benefit from a world-class Ross education.

The event will honor Russell Simmons, co-founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, for his dedication and support to educating young people in the arts. The event will also honor Ross School's teachers for their continued commitment to provide a challenging and interdisciplinary education to Ross School students.

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception, followed by a silent and live auction, and dinner. Then it will be time for everybody to "Get on the Floor, and Dance."

Don't fight the feeling, give yourself a chance . . . to shake, shake shake your booty Saturday night at 6 PM.

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