When music historian and author Philip Groia passed away on July 8, 2014, the world lost one of the leading advocates for rhythm & blues vocal group singing and we lost a friend. Phil entrusted Classic Urban Harmony with his most treasured possessions, his music archives. We decided back then that we would dedicate a segment of our headquarters to preserving Phil’s legacy. We have now completed our “Phil Groia wall,” complete with a number of Phil’s framed original vocal group prints by noted photographer Charles Stewart, Phil’s United in Group Harmony Hall of Fame literary award, the mounted and laminated cover of his book and a record from his collection. The record we chose was the Five Keys recording on the Bim Bam Boom label, of which he was closely associated. Phil’s copy is in red vinyl. In the center of the display is Phil’s photograph. For those unfamiliar with Phil Groia’s importance to our music, here’s a short piece we wrote to be read at Phil’s memorial service.
“Perhaps a measure of one’s legacy has to do with how many lives they’ve impacted in a positive way. Phil Groia’s passion for music led him to research and document Rhythm & Blues vocal harmony. In doing so, he laid the foundation for thousands of us to better understand this music. As music historians ourselves, we owe a debt of gratitude to Phil. In the early 1970’s, serious research into the history of our music was in its infancy. A few brave souls were daring to interview singers of the 1950’s for articles in magazines but few of us had the depth of knowledge or patience to write a whole book. Phil’s book, “They All Sang On The Corner” took the research of R&B vocal groups to a level of detail not previously seen. His book is a valuable resource today but in the early years, it was mind-blowing! But Phil didn’t simply look at singers as writing subjects. He took the time to get to know those he wrote about. To many, he became a lifelong friend. Thank you, Phil, for your painstaking research, for your friendship and for the inspiration you gave us to do what we do.”
Charlie & Pam Horner, Classic Urban Harmony