This past weekend, the Mighty O’Jays came out in full effect with stylish red outfits, prepared to get down for Chicago.
On Saturday, February 9 at the Credit Union 1 Arena at UIC, 525 S. Racine Ave, The Pre-Valentines Concert with Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, The O’Jays, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant was e an astounding show. The O’Jays performed many classic hits that brought nostalgic moments to the audience.
As the group introduced each other one by one before they broke out into “Livin for the Weekend,” they showed and proved that they still have the moves as they danced around the stage. Their vocals soared all over the stadium as people jumped from their seats and danced in the aisles. No matter who you were or your age, you had no choice but to move with the O’Jays. Eddie Levert had a break down before “Forever Mine” as he quoted sensually “I want to love you til your hair gets wet, break out into a cold sweat and until you can’t forget.” He sent the crowd into an uproar. Walter Williams Sr. still soulfully delivers his lyrics in each note while Eric Grant brought in his part and kept in step with the dance moves. They also performed “Love Train” with a video montage on the screens of the group on Soul Train in the 1970s (William Powell). They performed many songs including “Stairway to Heaven,” “Use Ta Be My Girl” and ended with “For the Love of Money.”
They have been in the music industry for 59 years, and Eddie and Walter thanked their Chicago fans for standing with them throughout their music careers and group transitions. Walter Williams and Eddie Levert first met when they were age 6 and 7 respectively. As teenagers in Canton, Ohio, they formed a band originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey, and Bill Isles. In 1963, the group took the name “The O’Jays” in tribute to Cleveland radio disc jockey Eddie O’Jay. Several members have changed, but the core, original lead singers Eddie Levert and Walter Williams, continue to front the group.
The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005 and honored with BET’s Life Time Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013, they were inducted into The Official R&B Music Hall of Fame. Today, the songs of The O’Jays are still being used in many movies, commercials, and TV shows. “For The Love of Money” continues to be the theme song for “The Apprentice.”
Known for their iconic hits “Love Train,” “For the Love of Money,” “Back Stabbers,” etc., the group has experienced much throughout their lives, from the Civil Rights Movement to rising economic inequality and erosion of democratic norms. On this new album, they are sharing their perspective on the state of the country as well as the world, offering up some words of wisdom for the next generation before exiting the stage.
The O’Jays were recently included in Entertainment Weekly’s First Look issue of most anticipated releases of 2019. Last year they released a surprise track for fans entitled “Above the Law,” which was covered by Billboard, Pitchfork, AP, and more. “Above the Law” is produced by soul music legend Betty Wright. It is a critical look at the precarious state of social and criminal justice in America, from a group whose discography is filled with social commentary. The O’Jays have always shared their musical gift for fun times, love and relationships, equality while shedding light on systemic injustice.
The group also announced they would be releasing their final studio album, The Last Word, in 2019. This will be their first studio album since 1991’s Emotionally Yours. (There have been other O’Jays releases since then, but they are either compilations or reissues.) They have been touring for over 50 years. They were the first Black vocal group to tour arenas in the U.S. in the ’70s and ’80s.
The O’Jays are currently touring, providing fans with a connection to an era and a sound that formed the soundtrack for the lives of several generations. The O’Jays are still hitting the road with the same electrifying energy they’ve had over the years.
The OJay’s new song “I Got You” is available on all music service platforms. Go to www.mightyojays.com to keep up with the legendary group on where their love train will be moving next.