South Florida owes a debt of gratitude to former Florida A&M Marching bandmates, schoolteachers, and music aficionados Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall. Without their gamble on the short-lived Deep City Records, there would've never been such a culturally identifiable thing as the "Miami sound." While some of the Deep City Records' artists went on to much more with TK Records or into the vaults of obscurity, the slabs that were cut remain some of the best R&B and proto-Motown/funk known to man.
Had it not been for the disagreement between Clarke and Pearsall trying to push Betty Wright and Helene Smith respectively, the latter being Pearsall's wife; the musical landscape of South Florida might just be slightly different nowadays, for surely the caliber of their stars, had they remained under the same stable, would've vaulted this sliver of America into the same rooms Motown would eventually come to occupy. Oh, well.
This year's Miami International Film Festival will feature Deep City: Birth of the Miami Sound as part of their roster of fine films. For info on the movie and the team behind it, click here. Hopefully this piece of Floridiana will not go unnoticed by the locals and let's hope local filmmakers are detracted from pulling Ai Weiwei-styled protesting. What follows is a Miami sound playlist for your listening pleasure.More »