The fine folks at Spoonful Records in Columbus, Ohio have a habit of representing Numero to the fullest, taking very seriously their hometown’s role in our label’s origin story. After all, it was our very first release that brought us to the capital city to excavate the pure soul perfection found on Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label.
Tomorrow, Spoonful ups the ante by hosting the second Numero Night (even giving it the catalog number “002,” classy move). For their inaugural Numero Night, it was Daniel Moss, son of Capsoul founder Bill Moss. Saturday, the guest of honor will be Tom Smith of Columbus’s legendary Owl label and studio. We can’t be certain, but we’re guessing we’ll hear tales regarding the prolific Norman Whiteside and the sessions that preempted Wee’s masterful “You Can Fly My Aeroplane.”
If you can swing it, get down to Spoonful Records at 116 E Long St in Columbus, Ohio. Tell ’em Numero sent you!
Filed under: Wee
Ever since we entered the Wee business, we’ve been advocating for the parole of incarcerated bandleader, singer-songwriter Norman Whiteside. While the events that landed Norman in jail are tragic—the accidental shooting of an innocent teenager in 1982—the threads connecting Norman to the actual crime have frayed over time, with conspiracy theories challenged and witness statements retracted. This case is extremely complicated, and definitely worth reading up on (in places like this and this and this). The reality of the matter is, Norman Whiteside has served 30 years behind bars, during which time he has been a model inmate. His music has impacted countless individuals and his masterpiece You Can Fly On My Aeroplane remains one of the best-loved releases in the Numero catalog. Once again, Norman, his family, and his friends would appreciate you taking a moment to write the parole board on behalf of this gifted artist.
It would help to introduce yourself, explain who you are, and a quick statement of how Norman’s music has had an impact and he will be released to a world that wants him back. Here is a sample letter written by our own Jon Kirby so you can get an idea of what we’re shooting for (Rob’s letter of yesteryear can be viewed here).
To who it may concern,
I came to know of Norman Whiteside in modern times, through the enchanting music he created in the late ’70s. Only upon further research did I learn of Norman Whiteside’s reality—having been sentenced to a lengthy prison term nearly two decades before his music found me. I have followed Norman’s case and sequential parole hearings closely over the years and hope that on this occasion, you will see Mr. Whiteside fit for release. With his troubled past behind him, I shutter to think of what the gifted artist will be able to accomplish once he’s able to put music back at the center of his life. Unsung artists of Mr. Whiteside’s generation are thriving in today’s musical marketplace and I would love to see a Columbus artist of his caliber seated at that table. I hope you will strongly consider Mr. Whiteside’s release so that a new generation of potential fans (and an older generation of established fans) can experience a world wherein Norman Whiteside contributes to society in the way God intended—through his music.
Thank you for your time,
Please address written correspondence to:
Dessalines Weaver c/o Universal Support Network, PO Box 11133, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211-0133
Please address email correspondences to:
From the Family:
Filed under: Wee
Purple Snow and Cities of Darkscorch are not technically the only Numero titles with Grammy potential. Kanye West
sampled replayed the chord progression from “You Can Fly On My Aeroplane” for “Bound 2,” which has been nominated for not one but TWO Grammys (Best Rap Song and Rap/Sung Collaboration w/ Charlie Wilson). As a songwriter, Wee frontman Norman Whiteside stands to collect a statuette for his involvement. This would be a great start to a year where Whiteside is finally eligible for parole on a complicated 37-year sentence which is a story all to itself. The Columbus Dispatch wrote a informative article on the Kanye-Whiteside connection, which makes a nice companion piece to the lengthy Norman Whiteside feature Columbus Monthly produced five years back. This is to say that while the Numero Group is “honored just to be nominated,” we’re pulling for Norman (vis-à-vis Kanye) extra hard.
There it is. Doesn’t look like much, what with its statue of President William McKinley (best known for being assassinated by an anarchist) and generic Doric columns. Columbus might be the most unassuming hotbed of soul music in the United States, and it certainly never matched the volume of Memphis, Chicago, Jackson, or of course Detroit, but the sheer quality is what is really remarkable. If you thought we would have thoroughly tapped these natural resources with the Prix label, the Capsoul label, the Four Mints LP, the Wee LP, and the Penny & the Quarters 45 (and myriad others, like the Suspicious Can Openers and Now 45s in our Eccentric Soul: Omnibus) you are mistaken. We are far from done with Columbus, the material we are mining is just too strong. We’re diving back in with this summer’s Capitol City Soul presentation: Twenty underground soul masterworks from the Capsoul family (extended and immediate). We’ve mined the archives of Bill Moss, Jeff Smith, Dean Francis, and others to create a collection of virtually unheard material. Only a few tracks were ever even released on even a local level. Keep your eyes here for more on this project, ten years in the making, over the next few weeks.
Most Numero readers know Norman Whiteside. Norman is the singer and songwriter responsible for a few songs off our first ever release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, and the * label release Wee: You Can Fly On My Aeroplane. As is detailed in the liner notes of the latter, Norman was convicted in the early 1980s of accessory “after the fact” to murder. Although the details are hazy, it’s clear that he had nothing to do with the killing itself. Those killers have long been out of prison. Norman has been denied for parole several times for reasons that are not clear, despite the fact that he has been noted for good behavior and has pursued a college degree to prepare for freedom.
We are trying to get supporters to write to the Parole Board and let them know that Norman has supporters who want to see him released, making music again. Please address letters to the Ohio Adult Parole Board but send to:Numero Group Attn: Norman Parole Package 2348 S. Marshall Blvd. Chicago IL 60623
Here’s an excerpt from the letter written by Numero’s Rob Sevier, for some content ideas:
I did not know the Norman Whiteside that was sent to prison over 30 years ago, but the Norman I know is an extraordinarily warm and generous person. He is optimistic and well-spoken, thoughtful and focused. My involvement with him includes working to release some of his compositions and I know that, when released from prison, he will not lose a step to once again contribute great beauty in the form of words and music to our society. I could never be more confident that an individual is fully reformed and prepared to enter society at large and contribute greatly. There is truly an audience for the music he has created, and that interest has been growing. We have been bearing witness to this as his music is continues to find fans around the country and the world.It would help to introduce yourself, explain who you are, and a quick statement of how Norman’s music has had an impact and he will be released to a world that wants him back.
Of all the many folks that we’ve lost along the way, few could ever be remembered as dearly as Dean Francis. The Numero Group has been knowing Dean since it’s first release, 001 Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, which features his songwriting and instrumental talents. His efforts are still being felt in Numero releases with the still mysterious catalog number 045 that we’re putting the finishing touches on now. He was a true pioneer of soul music in Columbus (as Jerry McMahan from the Suspicious Can Openers lamented to me today.) He was the definition of true believer. Stricken with a condition that caused his skin and internal organs to harden, Dean had numerous fingers amputated over the years, making it impossible to play the drums. He continued to write and compose with his one or two usable fingers until the end. Seven years ago, he even took the Greyhound bus to Chicago to crash on Numero co-owner Rob Sevier’s couch to hang out at our new office and bring some master tapes for the reissue of the Four Mints LP (the alternate versions of “In A Rut” and “Too Far Gone”.) Even over the last few weeks when he was dying and knew it, he wouldn’t cop to it. Only our last conversation did he start to show signs of strain… he was weak and having some trouble talking. Truly one of the most beautiful people we’ve ever encountered in the many years of doing this, and connected to more releases than any one other artist.
Dean passed on at 3:30 this afternoon and it’s been a truly sad time, calling his many friends who may not know otherwise. I think it’s impossible to overstate our love for this man and his talents. We wanted to get this note up today, but tomorrow we’ll share some more stories and photos from Dean’s long and accomplished career.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QtyFU-fEOw]