The O'Jays Are Back, Sharing 'The Last Word' On Award-Winning Musical Career
This show originally aired April 24, 2019.
With Meghna Chakrabarti
The legendary O’Jays are back with a new album, and they’re raising their voices in protest.
Eddie Levert and Walter Williams Sr., founding members of the celebrated R&B group The O’Jays, which was formed in 1958. (@EddieLevertSr)
They’ve had 10 gold and 9 platinum albums and they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. (@themightyojays)
“The Last Word,” the group’s first studio album in 15 years and its final album, was released April 19, 2019.
Listen To ‘The Last Word’
From The Reading List
Rolling Stone: “The O’Jays Preview First Album in 15 Years With Soothing ‘I Got You’” — “The O’Jays rekindle the spirit — and the sumptuous sound — of Philadelphia soul in the Seventies on new single ‘I Got You.’ The song will appear on The Last Word, which the group says will be their final LP.
“‘I Got You’ offers a message of reassurance in a time of political tumult: ‘Even if the sky begins to fall, and even if they try to build that wall, and even if the bomb goes off and the world is set on fire, I got your back.’ ‘It’s almost gospel,’ says the O’Jays’ Walter Williams. ‘It’s good news. Whatever happens, don’t worry about it — I’m gonna be there. That’s a hell of a statement. It works in a friendship; it works certainly in a relationship.’ ”
Miami Herald: “All hail the O’Jays as they bring their farewell (maybe) tour to Miami” — “We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a legend.
“After 61 years, 15 gold and platinum records and a 2005 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the O’Jays are calling it quits. The group announced its retirement last year on CBS News’ ‘Sunday Morning.’ Their publicists confirm it. The new album coming in April is even called ‘The Last Word.’ So when they take the stage on Sunday at the Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival in Miami, it will be South Florida’s last chance to see one of the great vocal groups of all time.
“In a telephone interview, singer Walter Williams doesn’t sound so sure. He bobs and weaves when asked to discuss the end. Finally, asked straight out if this is, indeed, the end, he demurs.
“‘I wish I knew that,’ he says. ‘I don’t know that because I still have a desire to do it as long as I can do it without looking ridiculous. That means basically performance-wise. My voice hasn’t changed much, my vocals haven’t changed much, other than a little more knowledge of how to do it and not harm myself.’ ”
Associated Press: “Bill Isles, Co-Founder of the O’Jays, Dies of Cancer at 78” — “Bill Isles, an original member of the chart-topping R&B group the O’Jays, has died at his Southern California home. He was 78.
“Isles died of cancer last month at his home in Oceanside, just north of San Diego, his son, Duane Isles, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. The funeral for Bill Isles was held Saturday (April 6).
“Bill Isles and his childhood friends in Canton, Ohio, formed the Mascots in 1958 before changing the name to the Triumphs and releasing a single in 1961. The band changed its name to the O’Jays after getting pivotal advice from a Cleveland DJ named Eddie O’Jay.”
Allison Pohle produced this show for broadcast.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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