Philadelphia International Records, the celebrated label behind the “Philly Soul” sound and acts like the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle and more, has announced a year-long campaign to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The campaign is a joint effort with Legacy Recordings and Warner Chappell Music, and, per a press release, it will comprise a “series of exclusive partnerships, product and content releases, artist initiatives and much more.” To kick things off, producer/DJ Eric Kupper has shared a new remix of one of Philadelphia International’s most enduring hits: McFadden and Whitehead’s 1979 track, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”
Philadelphia International was founded in 1971 by the prolific songwriting and production duo of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Over the next decade, the label’s coterie of artists, songwriters and producers took elements of R&B, soul and funk, and combined them with big string and horn arrangements, to create a wholly unique “Philadelphia soul” sound.
Along with the O’Jays, Pendergrass and LaBelle, the label’s roster featured Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Lou Rawls, McFadden and Whitehead, the Three Degrees, Phyllis Hyman, the Intruders and the label’s own celebrated house-band, MFSB. Behind the scenes, Gamble and Huff cultivated a talented mix of songwriters, producers and engineers including Thom Bell, Dexter Wansel, Bobby Martin and Joe Tarsia.
“It’s a blessing to celebrate all of the writers, musicians, engineers, disc jockeys, and all the people that were on our team,” Gamble said in a statement. “When I listen to this music now, I can close my eyes and the music brings us all back together again. Hearing this music reminds me of all the hard work and dedication our team went through to make such a long lasting catalog, that has been embraced by the world and I’m thankful.”
Philadelphia International is plotting special collections to mark their 50th anniversary, though full details, including release dates, have yet to be announced. The label will partner with Vinyl Me, Please for a special anthology box set that will “take listeners on a sequential journey told across eight albums remastered from their original tapes and paired with liner notes and an exclusive podcast interview series in celebration of the label’s 50th anniversary.”
And with Snapper Music-United Souls, Philadelphia International will release a series of limited edition eight-CD box sets throughout the year. Each one “will contain a unique giant poster, exclusive 12-inch single, endorsed numbered certificate, a lavish 48-page hardcover book with a comprehensive archive of rare photographs compiled and curated in association with artists, engineers, and producers relevant to the label’s story.”
Finally, Gamble will host and curate a new “Sound of Philadelphia” radio station that will air exclusively on Sonos Radio HD. The station will feature music from the label’s artists, as well as stories from Gamble, special guests and more. The station will launch February 24th.