Singer Ronny Love is excited about returning to the Steel City to perform.
“As the lead singer of the Drifters, we played at the Holiday House in Monroeville with the Temptations,” recalls Love, who served as lead singer for the iconic soul group the Drifters from the late 1960s through the 1980s. “The place is a parking lot now, but everyone who’s anyone has played there.”
Love and his group Ronny Love and the sensational sounds of the Drifters will be headlining New Horizon Theater’s annual black tie event, which will take place at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty on Saturday, May, 2 at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the group, the evening will include an excerpt from New Horizon Theater Inc.’s play, “Queens of the Blues” by Joe Plummer and Sanetta Y. Gipson. “We’re excited to be coming back to Pittsburgh. We’ll be doing our hits including ‘Under the Boardwalk.’”
Love said. “We will have a lot of audience participation and we’ll have wardrobe changes. It’s going to be a great show. We’re going to do a mixture of old and new songs. We decided to do this show because we felt we’d be a perfect fit for New Horizon Theater and its mission.”
According to New Horizon Theater Inc. Chairperson/volunteer, Joyce Meggerson-Moore, the theater was founded with the mission to bring to the greater Pittsburgh area consistent, high-quality cultural events, reflecting the African American points of view, and to provide an ongoing venue for ethnic writers and performers to further their professional development.
Love began singing in his hometown church choir in Cleveland at the tender age of five. By the time he was eight years old he was traveling and singing gospel music. At the age of 13 he began performing in nightclubs across the Buckeye State and beyond. He began singing Rock-n-Roll music in the 1950s by happenstance.
“Back in those days, people of all ages were doing music. The lady in the Platters group was only 16 and they put make-up on her to make her look older,” Love recalled.
“People would watch out for you and they made sure you didn’t drink or smoke. You performed, you got paid and you went home. I knew about the Drifters, but when I became the lead singer of the group my whole world changed. I went from doing night clubs to having security and people bringing me fruit baskets,” Love continued.
Love performed with many different groups since entering the music business. His most famous venture being with The Drifters, which sold over 30 million records. Since the 1980s—because the Drifters didn’t own their group name—Love has been lead singer of the group Ronny Love & the sensational sounds of the Drifters. Under that auspice, the group has performed in all 50 of the United States and has performed to 20,000 dedicated fans or more in 12 countries oversees.
“It’s like being back in the ‘50s over there! We’re superstars again! They know your history better than they do here in the States,” he said.
Current members of the group are Love, Andre Clark, David Wims, Joe Rome and newcomer Didi Franklin. According to Love, no member of the original Drifters are alive. The last surviving member, Bill Pickney, died in 2007.
“I like the music and there was a demand for this from Drifters fans,” explained Love when asked why he decided to create Ronny Love & the sensational sounds of the Drifters group. “The fun is going out into the audience and getting them involved with the show.”
When Love isn’t traveling or performing, he enjoys staying involved in the latest technology to hit the music industry and spending time with his wife, Julie, who travels with him and handles the sale of merchandise and honestly tells him if the group’s sound is on point.
He is currently working on a new CD of his own that will feature a mixture of dance tracks and ballads.
For those youngsters clamoring to be in the music business, Love has some sage advice.
“You have to have confidence in yourself. If you don’t have confidence in yourself you’re not going to make it. Someone told me that I couldn’t be a singer and to get a 9-to-5 job. Years later he came back and told me that he’d made a mistake,” Love said.
“I grew up in an era where if they saw you were Black they would throw the material in the garbage,” said Love. “But everyone doesn’t hate you. If you have a good product, you will be coming back. If you stink, you’re not coming back. I make sure that our clothes are correct, our sound is the best it can be and that the audience feels included. That’s what keeps us coming back.”
Tickets for the show range from $40 to $100. The $100 level seat includes a meet-and-greet session with the group, catered food after the performance and listing in the brochure. Great group rates are also available. Tickets can be purchased by calling 412-431-0773; emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting http://www.newhorizontheater.org.
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