Kenneth Gamble lives the message in his music

Kenneth Gamble
Kenneth Gamble

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo

With their socially conscious message songs, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff created the timeless Philadelphia sound of soul. Now the former, is bringing those messages to life with a host of philanthropic endeavors. In 1993, Gamble, along with his wife, Fatimah Gamble, founded Universal Companies, a leading Philadelphia based community development and education management corporation. Since its opening, the company has created great strides building over 1,500 units of housing and currently managing six charter schools in Philadelphia, educating over 3,700 children. For Gamble, the project is part of what he feels is his responsibility as a music icon.

“Music played a tremendous role in the civil rights struggle and it is an audiovisual world now,” he says. “African-American music has become pornographic. There is no dignity; that has an affect on our community when you see the murders and disrespect in our communities. It shows how society has tried to destroy the African-American  through the media. So it will take the media and entertainment to break us out of this situation.”

For now, Gamble is content to give back through direct community outreach and allow his musical legacy to inspire others. Yet, if there is one voice that could bring him out of hiatus and back into the recording studio it is, Fantasia. “I’d like to work with Fantasia. I think she has one of the better voices out there now. She needs some great producers and somebody that really cares about her.”

It was all about music, dance and fashion at the Museum of the City of New York’s opening for Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced. As the first African-American designer to attain international stature, Burrows helped define the look of the disco era replete with bold color, his signature “lettuce” edge, red zigzag stitching, body-defining silhouettes and more. The enthusiastic attendees created a dazzling scene with their splendid looks, many of which paid homage to Burrows’ style. Guests included Debra Lee, chairman and CEO of the event’s media sponsor, BET, models, Iman, Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison and iconic fashion designer Catherine Malandrino. The latter expressed her love for the legendary Burrows and how he influenced her outlook on fashion. “He loves life and celebrating it,” she says. “He shows that fashion is all about having fun with color and not taking it too seriously but using it more as an expression.”

To read the rest of the column please click here.

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