BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will kick off National Black History Month with a virtual event featuring two Soul Music Hall of Fame musicians.
This year’s Black History Month theme, “The Show Goes On,” celebrates the creative contributions of Black people and the power of Black artistry.
The virtual kickoff event, at 6 p.m. Jan. 29, will be hosted by IU’s African American Arts Institute, Archives of American Music and Culture, and Office of the Provost, along with the city of Bloomington. The event will feature greetings from IU and city leaders, award presentations, and performances from a local band. The highlight of the event is a conversation with Shelly Clark White, of the R&B-soul group Honey Cone, and Verdine White, bassist for Earth, Wind and Fire. Professor Tyron Cooper, director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture, will moderate.
“Black History Month is one of the highlights of the spring semester, and this year’s kickoff is extra special,” said Gloria Howell, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. “I can’t think of a better way to begin the celebration than with two giants in the music industry, Verdine and Shelly Clark White. They have contributed so much to the world through their music, creativity and philanthropy, and I am thrilled that our community can spend some time with them.”
Shelly Clark White started singing, dancing and acting at age 6 and quickly made her way to Broadway and notable venues such as the Cotton Club in New York City. In 1968, she, Carolyn Willis and Edna Wright formed Honey Cone, which was inducted into the Soul Music Hall of Fame in 2020. Their 1971 single, “Want Ads,” was a huge success and spent 14 weeks at the top of the R&B and pop charts, including No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other hits included “Stick Up” and “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show.”
Often called “the most electrifying bass player in the world,” Verdine White is a performer, producer and philanthropist. He performed for several years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra before joining his brother Maurice in Los Angeles to form one of the most successful bands of all time, Earth, Wind and Fire. Verdine’s bass solos and stage presence were signatures in Earth, Wind and Fire performances.
With countless hits, including “September,” “That’s the Way of the World” and “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind and Fire has performed all over the world. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Soul Music Hall of Fame in 2016, Verdine is the founder of the Verdine White Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged youth become musicians by providing them with lessons and financial support.