As most of you know, Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind and Fire passed away recently at the age of 74. I thought with their upcoming appearance at Firefly and his sad passing I would take a moment to reflect on why this band, and Maurice as its founding voice, still resonates through the years with me, and why I’m so excited to see his legacy at the Woodlands this summer with all of you.
Earth, Wind and Fire’s popularity was a product of a lot of amazing ingredients. Danceable melodies, lush intricate vocal harmonies, and of course, that in your face horn section gave a soundtrack to people desperate for a good time after the turbulent 1960’s. More than anything, however, it was their communal spirit, their ability to unite, and their unwavering optimism that guaranteed their music is as relevant today as the day it was written.
Maurice White was the architect of that optimism.
Maurice said time and again that he wanted his band to radiate positivity. In that regard he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Other artists like Curtis Mayfield or Marvin Gaye were geniuses about using their music to spur social change, to challenge status quos. Earth, Wind and Fire was different. They were about finding common ground between people and making us all dance together. Maurice White’s legacy means that no matter where you are, or who you’re with, you’re instantly transported to a place that is happy, and void of the cares of the world. It’s no coincidence his songs have become the soundtrack to major events in all of our lives. As a kid, I literally wore out my 8 Track of All in All. (Yes, I’m that old.) I can’t remember any wedding, company party, or major family event that didn’t have at least one of their songs making people get on the dance floor. As a business owner, I watched many of my teen employees become just as enamored with September as I ever was as a kid.
There are few bands that connect people of different ages or colors like the one Maurice helped create. People instantly bond over their songs no matter their background. I believe that for most of us, when we go to a festival like Firefly, that connection is the best part. Finding like-minded people, making new friends, finding commonality is what I love about this fest. Nothing epitomizes that spirit like Earth, Wind and Fire.
So, I hope you’ll join me not only to express out condolences to the family, friends and fans of Maurice White, but more importantly to celebrate this amazing man, his songs, and yes, those amazing horns.
And when you see me there, say hi, let’s dance, and I’ll be happy to show you what an 8 track looks like.