Updated: Thursday, August 3, 2017, 12:03 PM
The list of musicians to be inducted into the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame this year includes favorites Jill Scott and Patti LaBelle, the Philadelphia Music Alliance announced Thursday.
The Class of 2017 will also honor 1970s R&B group Sister Sledge, recording duo McFadden & Whitehead, Chris Schwartz and Joe Nicolo of Ruffhouse Records, gospel artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, soul group the Soul Survivors, and 98.1 WOGL host Bob Pantano. Kimmel Center president Anne Ewers will receive the the alliance’s Platinum Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Philadelphia Music Community, which is given to an honoree who “has been a leader and champion of supporting the music-making community in a significant way, as Jason Bray, general manager of theater and clubs at Live Nation, said Wednesday.
“Philadelphia has long been a music mecca, and once again, our inductees demonstrate Philadelphia’s musical dominance,” PMA vice chairman Mia Tinari said of the Class of 2017. “This year’s inductees represent a mixture of powerhouse vocals, signature anthems, soulful vibes, spiritual lyrics, and production firsts within the R&B, pop, and rock and roll genres.”
LaBelle is being inducted alongside Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx as the 1970s group LaBelle. Formed in Philly initially as Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles in 1962, the group later became known for their 1974 hit “Lady Marmalade.” In October 1974, LaBelle became the first black group to play the Metropolitan Opera House, and in July 1975 were the first black vocal group to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Scott is a modern R&B hitmaker with tunes including “A Long Walk,” “So in Love,” and “Hate on Me” under her belt. Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Scott broke into the music scene with help from Roots drummer Questlove; they cowrote the Roots track “You Got Me” for the 1999 album Things Fall Apart.
Gene McFadden and John Whitehead were the Philly songwriting duo behind ’70s Philadelphia International Records hits such as “I’ll Always Love My Mama” and “Wake Up Everybody.” However, their biggest hit came in 1979 with “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
Composed initially of sisters Kim, Debbie, Joni, and Kathy Sledge, Sister Sledge formed in Philly in 1971 and went on to produce such hits as “We Are Family,” “Lost in Music,” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer.” Joni died this year, but Kim and Debbie continue on as Sister Sledge. Kathy began a solo career in 1989.
Ruffhouse Records founders Chris Schwartz and Joe Nicolo work primarily behind the scenes, and are considered among the most dynamic A&R talent scout duos in modern music. They’re responsible for bringing to the masses groups such as the Fugees, Cypress Hill, Lauryn Hill, and Kriss Kross.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe died in 1973, but her contributions to rock and roll are still felt to this day. Known collectively as the “godmother of rock and roll,” Tharpe mixed gospel-style lyrics with proto-rock rhythms through the ’30s and ’40s with hits such as “This Train” and “Didn’t It Rain.”
The Soul Survivors are the Philadelphia soul group behind 1967’s “Expressway to Your Heart” — the first hit from famed producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. These days, the Soul Survivors are working with fellow Philly musician David Uosikkenen of the Hooters on his “In the Pocket” project.
Radio host Bob Pantano celebrated his 40th year on the air in February and can still be heard on WOGL, where he has hosted Saturday Night Dance Party since 1977.
“It’s quite a feeling,” Pantano said Wednesday. “Fifty years ago, I started the journey. I left Bishop Neumann High School and took the subway to Temple University. I’m in the Hall of Fame at Temple, and now this. I’m blessed.”
The honorees will be formally inducted in an Oct. 4 ceremony on the Avenue of the Arts. A gala celebrating the new inductees will be held at the Fillmore following the induction, tickets for which are available online.
In addition to this year’s class of honorees, the PMA also announced the establishment of the PMA Music Education Fund, which, Bray said Wednesday was created “in recognition of the need of all Philadelphia-area students to have access to music education.”
“While the PMA has always served as a resource for students, educators, musicians, city agencies, and other cultural institutions, the PMA Music Education fund will work specifically to augment existing outstanding music education programs,” Brey said. Schools and students can apply for the fund online.
Last year’s honorees were part of a special all-jazz induction in connection with the alliance’s 30th anniversary. The Class of 2016 included tenor sax player Benny Golson, organist Joey DeFrancesco, and WRTI host Bob Perkins.
Established in 1986, the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame has honored such Philadelphia musicians as Frankie Avalon, Boyz II Men, and Chubby Checker. According to the alliance website, there are currently 132 total inductees.
Read full story: Meet the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame's Class of 2017