HOWARD HEWET (Shalamar)

By the time Cameosis came out in 1980, Cameo had gained considerable momentum through singles such as "Shake Your Pants". Albums such as 1981's Knights of the Sound Table and 1982's Alligator Woman saw the band playing up their eclectic style.

However, by the mid-1980s, Blackmon and crew were ready to move on. With Alligator Woman in 1982, Cameo stripped down to "five main members", still keeping a full band for shows. Then Gregory Johnson quit, making it a quartet: Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins, Nathan Leftenant, and Charles Singleton; keyboardist Kevin Kendricks would later be brought more into the creative fold. Blackmon also moved from New York City to Atlanta, Georgia and started his own label Atlanta Artists, which was distributed by Polygram. Inspired by the edgy synthesizer arrangements being pushed forward by the new wave groups of the time, he moved the band in an electronic funk" direction. It utilized heavily sequenced drum machines (e.g. Simmons), bass and occasional horn arrangements. He put his trademark "Ooow!" into the forefront of Cameo's mixes and markedly changed their sound. Cameo's 1983 release Style was one of the first to come from this new label and was the first disc to capitalize on Cameo's new sound. She's Strange came out in 1984 and its "12-inch mix" was a major smash in the R&B clubs. The title track and its follow-up, "Talkin' Out the Side of Your Neck", were minor successes on the pop charts. 1985's Single Life was also an R&B hit that saw some crossover success. With this album, Singleton left the group, but continued to work with Cameo from time to time as a friend of the band.

The song "Word Up!" hit the radio airwaves in mid-1986. Critically acclaimed with large amounts of club and radio airtime, the resulting album Word Up! turned Cameo into superstars. The follow-up tracks, "Candy" and "Back and Forth", were also huge hits for the funk trio.

Two years later, Cameo would release Machismo to lukewarm pop response, but favorable critical reviews and R&B success. Kendricks left the band at this point. Next, 1990's Real Men... Wear Black and 1992's Emotional Violence failed to reach the same commercial success of Word Up!. By this time, after their departure from Polygram on to their new label, Reprise, Blackmon represented himself (besides his band-activities and side-productions) as A&R-agent for this label, a division of Warner Bros. Records. It also saw the absence of Nathan Leftenant, but the return of guitarist Charlie Singleton as one of "main" members. Leftenant returned again for the next album, which they released on a new label (Way 2 Funky/Raging Bull), and recorded at their next headed location, Miami, Florida. 1994 saw the release of In the Face of Funk that got some club play, a single release, and at least one track that received critical acclaim (for "You Are My Love"). But for the most part, Cameo's reign was over.

 

Artist Bio on Wikipedia

 

Cameo is a soul-influenced funk group that was formed in the early 1970s. Cameo was initially a 13-member group known as the New York City Players; this name was later changed to Cameo to avoid a lawsuit from The Ohio Players, another group from that era. Since then, Cameo has recorded several hits records. As of 2009, some of the original members continue to perform together, while two others were hired by the hip hop group Outkast. Influences include the humour of Parliament-Funkadelic, contemporary funk bands like the Bar-Kays, Earth, Wind and Fire, Ohio Players, The Isley Brothers etc. and singers like Marvin Gaye, Billy Paul, Prince, Isaac Hayes, Stevie Wonder and Bootsy Collins.

Presently

Former Cameo members Aaron Mills (bass), Jeryl Bright (Trombone) and Kevin Kendrick have been hired by the hip hop group OutKast for live and studio sessions. Mills's story is that he had just arrived back home in the middle of the night from touring or recording when he got a call from either Andre 3000 or Big Boi, and was asked if he had time to record a bassline for them, which was for "Ms. Jackson", OutKast's successful hit. Ex-Cameo vocalist John Kellogg became an entertainment lawyer representing such hit artists as the O'Jays, the late Gerald Levert and LSG. He also pursued a career in music industry higher education, becoming Assistant Chair of the Music Business/Management department at the world's leading institution of contemporary music, Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

In 2000, Cameo released their last-recorded album Sexy Sweet Thing, the album's title track, also had a single and video release. Around this time, they frequently performed in the U.S. and at various dates in Europe. Larry Blackmon has a son, of the same name, in the New York political scene who has worked with Clinton, Bloomberg, and the NY Jets. Another of his sons, listed as N. Larry Blackmon, is building a rock/hip hop empire of his own. Aaron Mills has a son, Michael, in Durham, N.C., who is attempting to launch a career as a recording artist and has a Facebook page promoting his fledgling recordings as "Miguel the Tyrant." On August 28, 2010, Cameo along with other prominent musicians and groups including Zapp Band, and George Clinton, played at the Chafeitz Arena, located in St.Louis. They performed six shows in total at Tokyo's "Cotton Club" on 17, 18, and 19, 2010.

A few members of Cameo, such as Tomi Jenkins, Charlie Singleton, Anthony Lockett, Jeryl Bright and Gregory Johnson are currently active on social networks like Facebook, MySpace or their own site. Tomi Jenkins released his new album The Way and is working on a movie about a fictional '70s funkband called Icemosis. Charlie Singleton released a new album called Phantom Of The Hip-Hopera. Gregory Johnson has a new and jazz-oriented album. In 2009, John Kellogg was elected the first African-American President of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association (MEIEA). Jeryl Bright’s recording career started with the Detroit based funky Billboard award winning group Brainstorm. In Brainstorm, Jeryl was a singer and trombonist and at times got the opportunity to utilize some of his other talents of arranging, producing and composing. Jeryl wrote the title track for Brainstorms sophomore LP Journey To The Light and co-wrote others on their third and final CD. After three albums on Tabu Records, Brainstorm disbanded and while Jeryl sought a solo record deal he put together a band with Jazz drummer, legend Harvey Mason and George Michael’s bass player Deon Estus that had a short run. Harvey Mason said that not since JJ Johnson had he heard such a trombonist. From a child, Jeryl spent his formative years in California and Shreveport, Louisiana. His mother, who was a popular gospel singer, started him in Performing Arts on drums, voice, and dance at 3 years old. At 8 years old Jeryl studied the cello and at 11 he started to study classical and jazz on trombone winning him numerous awards. Back in Los Angeles, he became more interested in producing records and credits Leon Sylvers and Leon Hayward as his mentors in training him on making recordings. Looking forward to using his scholarship to Juilliard after High school, Jeryl stopped off in Detroit to visit a friend where he caught the eyes of a local band called Brainstorm who had a record deal pending with Tabu Records. He joined Brainstorm and they eventually signed with the label. Brainstorm scored a big hit on their first album (Storming) and received a Billboard award for the smash hit, Loving is Really My Game, Jeryl has, collaborated, played, and sang with other great producers in their own right: Donnie Lyle (R Kelly’s MD), producer Michael J Powell, David McMurray, Paul Jackson Jr., Gerald Albright, Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorious, Fred Wesley, Earth Wind & Fire horns and many others.

After Brainstorm and Harvey Mason, Jeryl got a call from an up and coming band called Cameo and became a member of the group having an immediate impact on the groups sound by adding vocals with slick arrangements on many of Cameo’s hits. After 3 albums with Cameo Jeryl was signed to Epic Records and teamed up with fellows Cameo imps Aaron Mills and TC Campbell and recorded, “now a sought after classic” album entitled MCB. The hit song, taken from the MCB album entitled I’m The One You’re The One, was sung, written, and produced by Jeryl Bright hitting in over 30 countries. Jeryl then went independent with a release on Cheslen Records out of Los Angeles called Electric Body and produced a mild hit called The Mail Man on west coast rapper OG Hawk. In 1986 Jeryl returned to Cameo to participate in their biggest hit Word Up. Jeryl recorded several more albums with Cameo, toured with the group, and helped re-structure the group in 1995 up until 2001. In 2001, Jeryl moved from the west coast to Atlanta and set up his company Northern Image Inc. and recording label Bizcuit Records. In Atlanta, Jeryl hooked-up with Andre 3000 and worked on some musical arrangements and played trombone in the movie, Idle Wild.

In 2010 by popular demand the MCB CD was re-mastered, re-issued and distributed by Sony distribution music on Funky Town Grooves, USA. Currently, Bright is promoting classic hits from the MCB album, featuring new videos, "I'm the One, You're the One" and the funky rock stinger, "Feels So Right".

 

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