Tom Bee is the CEO and founder of Sound of America Records (SOAR), the first Native American owned record label.
Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".
Adopted at birth, Tom Bee was born and raised in the reservation border town of Gallup, New Mexico. Best known as founder and featured artist with the popular 1970s music group XIT, Bee's composition "(We've Got) Blue Skies" was recorded by Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 on their worldwide hit album "Maybe Tomorrow." This led to an artist, writer, and producer contract with Motown Records. While under contract with Motown, XIT released two widely acclaimed albums entitled "Plight of the Redman" and "Silent Warrior." A single from the latter album entitled "Reservation of Education" went on to become a top 5 selling record in France and other European countries in 1973. The political overtones of Bee's lyrics kept them from ever achieving superstar status in the United States, but the group developed a cult status in America and Europe, which has allowed their music to survive for the last thirty years.
Gallup is a city in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States, with a population of 21,678 as of the 2010 census. A substantial percentage of its population is Native American, with residents from the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes. Gallup is the county seat of McKinley County and the most populous city between Flagstaff and Albuquerque, along the historic U.S. Route 66.
New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,590 sq mi (314,900 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.
XIT is a Native American rock band that released two albums in the 1970s on the Motown label, and regrouped in the 1990s as a new and different group under Tom Bee. They performed a 30th anniversary reunion concert and released a DVD, XIT: Without Reservation, in 2002.
In fact, one major newspaper once wrote, "These guys are to the Indians like the Beatles were to the White folks." Amid a legion of loyal fans throughout the world, their live stage presentations drew comparisons by the media to the raw energy of the Rolling Stones. While at Motown, Bee also wrote and produced the title song "Joyful Jukebox Music" for Michael Jackson's Swan Song album on the label. He also worked with Smokey Robinson on his first solo album "Smokey." In 1979, one of his compositions "Red Hot" was a top Billboard dance hit by Taka Boom (Chaka Khan's sister), and in 1985, U.K. Rockabilly sensation Shakin' Stevens recorded Bee's "Don't Be Two Faced" on his highly successful album, "The Bop Won't Stop."
William "Smokey" Robinson Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and frontman of the Motown vocal group the Miracles, for which he was also chief songwriter and producer. Robinson led the group from its 1955 origins as "the Five Chimes" until 1972 when he announced a retirement from the group to focus on his role as Motown's vice president.
Taka Boom is an American female R&B and dance music singer, and is the younger sister of singer Chaka Khan and Mark Stevens of Aurra. She sang background vocals for several Parliament albums in the 1970s. Taka Boom is sometimes credited as Takka Boom and is known for her work with DJ/producer Dave Lee, especially in a range of hits under the Joey Negro name. Boom was also a later member of the Norman Whitfield group The Undisputed Truth, and led them on their 1976 disco hit "You + Me = Love".
Yvette Marie Stevens, better known by her stage name Chaka Khan, is an American musician, singer and songwriter. Her career has spanned nearly five decades, beginning in the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the funk band Rufus. Khan received public attention for her vocals and image. Known as the Queen of Funk, Khan was the first R&B artist to have a crossover hit featuring a rapper, with "I Feel for You" in 1984. Khan has won ten Grammys and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide.
Through the years Bee's compositions have appeared on numerous other albums and special projects as well. In 1989, Bee formed Sound of America Records (SOAR), in the garage of his home. In 1995, Bee formed yet another company, SOAR Distribution LTD for the sole purpose of providing his clients with one-stop music from other independent labels and artists also producing Native American music. In 1999, SOAR purchased all three buildings that they had been leasing since 1991 to house their labels, publishing, and studio operations. SOAR was also enlisted as the exclusive Native American distributor for the Robbie Robertson records "Music for the Native Americans" and "Contact From the Underworld of Redboy," on Capitol Records, and the multi-million seller "Sacred Spirit" on Virgin Records. SOAR comprises three publishing companies and five different labels; SOAR, Natural Visions, Warrior, Dakotah, and Red Sea. SOAR now has over 300 quality titles of both contemporary and traditional music. Bee has said all along that SOAR was not the first company to record Native American music, but they were the first to take it to the next level. SOAR was, however, the first company to release traditional Native American music on compact disc. He was once quoted as saying "we took Native American music out of the trading posts and into the streets." SOAR's motto has always been "Quality titles, not quantity of titles."
Jaime Royal "Robbie" Robertson, OC, is a Canadian musician, songwriter, film composer, producer, actor, and author. Robertson is best known for his work as lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band, and for his career as a solo recording artist.
Capitol Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.
Virgin Records Ltd. is a British record label founded by entrepreneurs Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman in 1972. It grew to be a worldwide phenomenon over time, with the success of platinum performers such as George Michael, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Roy Orbison, Devo, Tangerine Dream, Genesis, Keith Richards, the Human League, Culture Club, Simple Minds, Lenny Kravitz, dc Talk, the Smashing Pumpkins, Mike Oldfield, Gorillaz, and Spice Girls, among others.
Bee's radical efforts over a ten-year period helped in persuading NARAS to finally create a Native American Folk category in the Grammy's. Besides numerous gold albums, Bee has received many awards, including the Eagle Spirit in 1994 from the American Film Institute in San Francisco and The Will Sampson Award in 1996 from the First Americans in the Arts. In 1998, Bee received the Producer of the Year Award from the First Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMMY's). The following year he received the NAMMY's Lifetime Achievement Award (1999). In 2001, Bee received a Grammy as Producer for Best Native American Music Album in the category's inaugural year.
The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film organization that educates filmmakers and honors the heritage of the motion picture arts in the United States. AFI is supported by private funding and public membership fees.
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.
The Native American Music Awards are an awards program presented annually by Elbel Productions, Inc., The Native American Music Awards Inc., and The Native American Music Association, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in 1998, which recognizes outstanding musical achievement in styles associated with Native Americans, predominantly in the United States and Canada. While Native American performers in a variety of genres are also recognized, nominees do not have to be Native American themselves. The awards were created in 1998 to offer Native American musicians greater recognition from the American music industry and to create opportunities for international exposure and recognition.
Mayor Martin Chavez, of the City of Albuquerque, proclaimed July 27, 2002 to be "Tom Bee Day," in recognition of Bee's accomplishments within the music industry as a recording artist, songwriter, record producer and multi-award winner. On February 8, 2003, Bee received the Lifetime Achievement Award from First Americans In The Arts in Beverly Hills, Ca. Most recently, on February 19, 2003, in New York City, Bee received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Four Directions Entertainment. Recent achievements include a 2004 Grammy nomination for his album "Reveal His Glory." Bee won a Grammy for producing the 2004 Grammy winning record "Flying Free" by Black Eagle.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Flying Free is the fourth studio album by Native American band Black Eagle, released on March 9, 2004 and recorded in July 2002. It received the Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album in 2004.
The Temptations is an American vocal group who released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s work with producer Norman Whitfield, beginning with the Top 10 hit single "Cloud Nine" in October 1968, pioneered psychedelic soul, and was significant in the evolution of R&B and soul music. The band members are known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and dress style. Having sold tens of millions of albums, the Temptations is among the most successful groups in popular music.
Stevland Hardaway Morris, better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.
Motown Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group. It was originally founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, and was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960. Its name, a portmanteau of motor and town, has become a nickname for Detroit, where the label was originally headquartered.
Berry Gordy III is an American record executive, record producer, songwriter, film producer and television producer. He is best known as the founder of the Motown record label and its subsidiaries, which was the highest-earning African-American business for decades.
Booker Taliaferro Jones, Jr. is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, record producer and arranger, best known as the frontman of the band Booker T. & the M.G.'s. He has also worked in the studios with many well-known artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, earning him a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
The Funk Brothers were a group of Detroit-based session musicians who performed the backing to most Motown recordings from 1959 until the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972.
Arif Mardin was a Turkish-American music producer, who worked with hundreds of artists across many different styles of music, including jazz, rock, soul, disco and country. He worked at Atlantic Records for over 30 years, as producer, arranger, studio manager, and vice president, before moving to EMI and serving as vice president and general manager of Manhattan Records. His collaborations include working with Queen, the Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Laura Nyro, Phil Collins, Daniel Rodriguez, and Norah Jones. Mardin was awarded eleven Grammy Awards.
Claudette Annette Rogers Robinson is an American singer-songwriter. She was a member of The Miracles from 1957 to 1972. Her brother Emerson "Sonny" Rogers was a founding member of the group, which before 1957 was named "The Matadors." Claudette replaced her brother in the group after he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever is an award-winning 1983 television special, produced by Suzanne de Passe for Motown Records, to commemorate Motown's 25th year. The program was taped before a live studio audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California on March 25, 1983, and broadcast on NBC on May 16. Among its highlights were Michael Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean", Smokey Robinson's long-awaited reunion with The Miracles, a Temptations / Four Tops "battle of the bands", Marvin Gaye's inspired speech about black music history and his memorable performance of "What's Going On", a Jackson 5 reunion, and an abbreviated reunion of Diana Ross & the Supremes, who performed their final #1 hit, "Someday We'll Be Together" from 1969. The show was co-written by de Passe with Ruth Adkins Robinson who would go on to write shows with de Passe for the next 25 years, including the follow-up label tributes—through "Motown 40," Buz Kohan was the head writer.
"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" is a song written by Smokey Robinson which became a 1962 Top 10 hit single for The Miracles on Motown's Tamla label. One of the Miracles' most covered tunes, this million-selling song received a 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame Award. It has also been selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was covered by English rock group the Beatles on their second album, With the Beatles and many other musicians.
Jim Boyd was a Native American singer-songwriter, actor, and member of The Jim Boyd Band on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington. Boyd has performed in several groups, including XIT, Greywolf, and Winterhawk. Boyd sang four songs with lyrics by Sherman Alexie on the soundtrack for the 1998 movie Smoke Signals, and also appeared in Alexie's The Business of Fancydancing.
The Miracles were the Motown Record Corporation's first group and its first million-selling recording artists. During their nineteen-year run on the American music charts, The Miracles charted over fifty hits and recorded in the genres of doo wop, soul, disco, and R&B. Twenty-six Miracles songs reached the Top Ten of the Billboard R&B singles chart, including four R&B number ones. Sixteen of the Miracles' songs charted within the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, with seven of those songs reaching the Top Ten and two – 1970's "The Tears of a Clown" and 1975's "Love Machine" – reaching number-one. A third song,the million-selling "Shop Around", reached #1 on the Cash Box magazine Top 100 Pop chart. The Miracles also scored 11 U.S. R&B Top 10 Albums, including 2-#1's. According to several websites, the Miracles are one of the most oft-covered groups in recorded history and the most covered Motown group ever. Their music and songs have influenced artists all over the world – in every major musical genre – over the last 50 years. They also have the distinction of having more songs inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame than any other Motown group.
Jana Maria Mashonee,, better known by her stage name, Jana, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, author and philanthropist. She is originally from Robeson County, North Carolina. Jana is a two-time Grammy nominee and nine-time Nammy winner. Her music is steeped in R&B and gospel roots, which introduced her to the mainstream. She is currently releasing her music through Miss Molly Records available on iTunes and Amazon.
John William Bristol was an American musician, most famous as a songwriter and record producer for the Motown label in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was a native of Morganton, North Carolina, about which he wrote an eponymous song. His composition "Love Me for a Reason" saw global success when covered by The Osmonds including a number 1 in the UK charts in 1974. His most famous solo recording was "Hang On in There Baby" recorded in 1974, which reached the Top Ten in the United States and number 3 in the United Kingdom. Both singles were in the UK top 5 simultaneously.
Stephan Galfas is a music producer, currently CEO of International Talent Organization, Inc. and Miss Molly Records.
Al Bell is an American record producer, songwriter, and record executive. He is best known as having been an executive and co-owner of Stax Records, based in Memphis, Tennessee, during the latter half of the label's 19-year existence.