The city of Oakland has given the world a wide range of musicians, all coming from a variety of genres, including two of these groups, both of whom would bring something distinctive in soul music.
Tower of Power (T.O.P.) is a band formed in 1968 in Oakland, notable for their powerful horn section and syncopated bass and guitar lines. Their most successful period came in the early 1970, beginning with the album Bump City (1972), which featured the hit “You’re Still a Young Man”. 1973 brought the band’s third self-titled album, which would become their landmark. The album was certified gold, and contained their two signature songs “So Very Hard To Go” and “What Is Hip?”
T.O.P.’s horn section was also notable for collaborations with other artists, many of them music legends including Elton John, Santana, Heart and Rod Stewart. The band continues to tour and record, and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2008.
Another group that originated from Oakland is En Vouge, one of the most successful female groups of all time. Their four-part harmonies and distinctive style evoked the tradition of female groups such as the Supremes. In 1990, the group released their debut album Born to Sing, which was a million- seller, and contained the number two pop hit “Hold On”, which became a radio staple even to this day. Their 1992 second album Funky Divas, did even better, as it went multi-platinum and contained the group’s two signature tunes “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Free Your Mind”. Another hit was the cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Giving Him Something He Can Feel”.
As the 1990s rolled on, En Vouge scored two more hits with “Runaway Love” and “Don’t Let Go (Love)”, and were featured on Salt-N-Pepa’s hit “Whatta Man”. Since 1997, they recorded three more albums including 1997’s EV3. The group’s music have remained radio staples on various stations, and have even appeared on a few TV shows including RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tower of Power, eligible since 1995. En Vouge, eligible in 2015.