by Beth Stauffer

The sophisticated and timeless vocal stylings of legendary R&B group The Spinners is set to take the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert, Ohio on Saturday, March 1st, 2014.  Since the group’s inception in 1961, The Spinners have sold over 60 million records (including 12 gold-certified recordings), been nominated for 6 Grammy awards, and delighted both television audiences and 2 U.S. Presidents with their performances.  A few of The Spinners most popular hits include ‘I’ll Be Around’, ‘Rubberband Man’, ‘It’s a Shame’, and ‘Working My Way Back to You’.

The inception of The Spinners dates back to 1954 when a group of childhood friends from Ferndale, Michigan (a suburb just north of Detroit) began making beautiful music together.  Original members Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, C.P. Spencer, and Bobby Smith first hit the charts in 1961 with a song entitled “That’s What Girls Are Made For” that peaked at #27 on the charts.  The group didn’t achieve chart-topping success again until 1971’s “I’ll Be Around.”

The 1970’s proved to be The Spinner’s decade with the group posting 5 Top 100 Hits and earning them the title of one of the most popular soul groups of the era.  According to Henry Fambrough, longtime member of The Spinners, the group was among the first comprised of African-Americans to receive a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in in the summer of 1976, an award Fambrough says the group is especially proud of.

As one might expect of a group that has been actively recording and performing for more than 5 decades, The Spinners have underwent many changes to the group’s original dynamics over the years; four of the original members of the quintet have passed away, leaving Henry Fambrough as the sole remaining original member of The Spinners.

In recent years, Fambrough re-formed the band to the replace the lost members.  While the group sports several new faces, including Charlton Washington, Bobbie Smith, Jessie Peck, and Marvin Taylor, the heart and soul of the band remains:  its music.  Fambrough said in an interview on February 26th that one of the highlights of being a part of The Spinners over the years is seeing people all of the world, even those who speak a foreign language, singing the group’s hits.

“We’ve traveled all over the world, and it truly amazes me when I see people who don’t even share the same language as I do singing our hits,” said Fambrough, adding with a smile to his voice,  “music is the only universal language.”

The Spinners will bring their much-loved brand of universal language to the NPAC on Saturday evening, and even though some of the faces have changed over the years, the group’s classic hits and snappy choreography remain largely unchanged.  According to Fambrough, the choreography the group will perform on Saturday was originally created by renowned dancer Charles “Cholly” Atkins.  During his lifetime, Atkins choreographed an eclectic range of performers, from Gene Kelley in the 1930’s to the New Kids on the Block in the 1980’s.  Atkins was most known for his work choreographing the most influential Motown  artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s, including The Spinners.

Fambrough said on Wednesday that he is very excited for The Spinners first trip to Van Wert, Ohio and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, and guarantees that those in attendance at Saturday’s show will not be disappointed.  “When you come out to a Spinners show, you’re going to hear all the hits you’ve loved over the years,” said Fambrough.  “While we can’t possibly play every song in our repertoire, we do have several medleys that help us fit it all in,” he added.

Tickets to see The Spinners perform live at the Niswonger on Saturday are still available and can be purchased by calling the Box Office at (419) 248-NPAC or visiting NPAC’s website at www.NPACVW.org.

POSTED: 02/26/14 at 9:41 pm. FILED UNDER: Entertainment