Kenny Hamber
Kenny Hamber
@kenny-hamber
 

Born September 18, 1943 in Baltimore, Kenny Hamber found early musical inspiration inside the walls of Weldon Baptist Church. “When I started singing in church, I was about 12 or 13,” says Kenny, who had several secular influences. “It was really Frankie Lymon,” he says. “And then Little Willie John, James Brown, Jackie Wilson.”

Kenny started recording for Arctic in 1967. Hamber is proud to point out who composed the mid-tempo “Anything You Want.” “Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote the first song that I recorded for Arctic,” he says. “I knew who they were, but I had never met them before that.” Gamble and Bishop served as his Arctic producers         

“Ain’t Gonna Cry (Over One Girl)” was written by Gamble alone and is just as strong, its skin-tight backing sounding like Memphis or Muscle Shoals despite the band consisting of Philly sessioneers. Hamber’s pleading performance radiates sanctified intensity. “Back then, they were trying to really make me sound a little bit like Otis Redding,” he says.

 “‘Ain’t Gonna Cry (Over One Girl)’ is sort of like a spinoff off of an Otis Redding song.

Kenny subsequently joined forces with a band called the Hitchhikers. He stayed with them for about three years and then went to New England. “Came up to Providence, Rhode Island, and I started another group of Hitchhikers. And we got on ABC-Dunhill through a promoter, through a guy named Paul Leka,” says Hamber.       

The Hitchhikers cut their eponymous 1976 album for ABC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, produced by Ralph Calabrese for Leka and Billy Rose II. After two or three years, Kenny went out on his own; his touring itinerary over the last couple of years has taken him from Great Britain (where he wowed the Northern Soul constituency) to Bermuda.      

“Right now I’ve got a four-piece band and two background singers,” says the Manchester, Connecticut-based Hamber. “We’ve been blessed to work a lot.”

 

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Title
Genre
R&B
R&B

Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul

Title
Genre
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul
Philly Soul