Filed under: Eccentric Soul, Forte | Tags: James Brown, Marva Whitney, WGBH
People are wondering, we have to assume, about that high-beauty, low-information black-and-white image we used as the cover for 047 Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label.
Well, our 047 liner notes begin to explain it, somewhat obliquely, like this:
On April 5, 1968, the James Brown Revue was scheduled to perform before a sold-out crowd at Boston Gardens. The previous day had been wracked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and American cities were on high alert following riots in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Boston mayor Kevin White considered cancelling the show, but opted instead to introduce Brown to the 14,000 audience members, flanked by the Boston PD….After Brown turned out live staples “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” “Please, Please, Please,” and “Kansas City,” Marva Whitney took the stage to perform scorching renditions of “Tell Mama,” “Check Yourself,” “Chain Of Fools,” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” her slender arms issuing Supremes-style waves to the tense audience.
The key name there, of course, being Marva Whitney, the Forte label standout and owner/operator of those svelte and graceful appendages. But that doesn’t explain where our image came from, exactly. To do that, follow us over to YouTube and watch this extraordinary bit of Marva Whitney footage, from the very night in question:
When we got to around 0:18 and that three-quarters shot from behind Marva’s right shoulder, mid-dance and mid-wave, we knew we had our perfect encapsulation of Forte’s power, grace, and moment. Had to have that image. We tracked down the archival footage from Boston broadcast institution WGBH, chose our frame, tracked in a bit, tidied it all up, nestled a pine-and-white version of the Numero logo in the crook of Marva’s delicate wrist, and sat back, to simply admire.
And now, your chance to admire the works of Marva Whitney and Kansas City’s own Forte label.
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