Recognizing a new generation of leaders – while fondly remembering the previous one – at the Uptown Theater Hall of Fame Awards
This year’s Uptown Theater Hall of Fame awards celebrated many community lights, but it also commemorated three guiding stars who passed away recently — Sam Reed, the Uptown Theater’s incomparable band leader; Linda Waters Richardson, visionary UEDC President/CEO; and, Andrea Brown, former Board Chair and number one organization booster.
In their memory, the UEDC (Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation) leadership recognized many of those who will carry on the legacy of musical excellence, community assistance, and the dream of a revitalized Uptown Theater and North Philadelphia.
State Senator Sharif Street, who sponsored a Resource Fair in conjunction with the awards, said he believed the honorees represented the best traditions of Linda Waters in uplifting community and offering a helping hand to those in need. Those honorees included (NOTE: The following award text is courtesy of the UEDC and Lateef White):
The original Intruders, consisted of Sam “Little Sonny” Brown, Eugene “Bird” Daughtry, Phillip “Phil” Terry, and Robert “Big Sonny” Edwards. Their desire to perform and record music came to fruition in 1961. Then in 1965, The Intruders joined with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to launch Gamble Records. In 1968, The Intruders’ single “Cowboys to Girls” written by Gamble and Huff went gold, selling over a million copies. The success of this song along with the group’s rhythm & blues sound helped launch the emerging Sound of Philadelphia.
For over four decades The Intruders have intruded all over the musical landscape of the world. In 1975, The Intruders released their final album, Energy of Love and in 1976 after 15 remarkable years, Little Sonny, Bird, Phil and Big Sonny- the original Intruders-disbanded.
With 26 R&B chart records and a legacy of being one of the best male vocal groups demonstrating Philly soul, the demand for their sound persevered as new members joined the New Intruders led by original member Eugene “Bird” Daughtry. The legacy of The Intruders continued. In 1996, The Intruders were inducted into the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame and a star in their honor was placed on the Walk of Fame on Broad Street in Philadelphia.
The Intruders continue to perform today and with the support of Phillip “Phil” Terry and Robert “Big Sonny” Edwards, the surviving members of the original group, Earl Lassiter distinctive lead-voice, Glen Montgomery, Calvin Hines, James Murphy, and Phil Gaye providing the most stellar background vocals of any group out of the City of Brotherly Love.
The Comfort Zone Band
The Comfort Zone Band, based in the Delaware/Maryland region, plays old school soul and dance music. Led by soul diva Mary “Snow” Brown, the band is comprised of a seven-piece ensemble playing all the favorites from Motown, Muscle Shoals to Maze and Earth, Wind and Fire. With their vocal harmonies and driving horn section, they bring mastery and sophistication to every occasion. For several years, they have been instrumental in arts and culture enrichment for UEDC and Uptown Theater events. Band members include Rikk Nixon (drums), Sheldon Miller (keyboards), Howard Wimbrow (guitar), Robert Benson (bass), John Wilson (saxophone), and Jim Miller (Trumpet).
Dell-P is a Hip Hop Artist, Songwriter, Actor and Activist. In 2020, he was named one of the “Top lndie Artists of 2020” by Source Magazine. He has multiple videos featured on BET Jams & MTV including “Follow The Signs,” “By Any Means,” and was featured on Niramsin’s “How You Like.” Some of his many accomplishments include:
- Philly Hip Hop Awards “Album of The Year”
- PHL Live “Hip Hop Artist of The Year”
- Black Gala Award Winner
- Black Power Music Award Nominee
Two Time Spiral Award Winner for “Album of The Year” and “Artist of The Year”
- Spiral Award Winner (Artist of The Year)
- Two-Time lndie Music Award Winner for “Album of The Year” and “Single of The Year”
- Philly Hip Hop Award Winner for “Alternative Artist of The Year”
Don Williams, Don’s Doo Shop
In 1964, Don opened his own shop which specialized in processed pompadours in the 1500 block of Susquehanna Ave. He didn’t realize that the location of his shop near the Uptown Theater, his skill as a barber and hair processing techniques would play such an important role in the Uptown Theater, R&B, and Rock and Roll history. The first famous entertainer that came into the shop while doing shows at the Uptown Theater was B.B. King. Don stated, “You look like B.B. King.” Mr. King replied, “That is because I am B.B. King!”
Word traveled and then most of the Uptown entertainers went to Don’s Doo Shop. Don became stylist to Georgie Woods, The Drifters, The Isley Brothers, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, James Brown and The Miracles. Charles Simmons, songwriter for Philadelphia International Records, still comes into the shop. Don’s Doo Shop remains a staple in the community, one of North Philly’s longest-standing businesses.
Andrea Brown Philanthropy Award
The Magaziner Family (Amy Cohen)
Amy Cohen spent twenty years as a middle and high school teacher, including eight years as a teacher of African American History at Masterman High School. Currently, she is the Director of Education for History Making Productions, a documentary film company. She produced HMP’s Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award winning Octavius V. Catto; A Legacy for the 21st Century. Cohen is a historian, speaker, and monthly columnist for Hidden City, an online magazine about Philadelphia’s urban landscape.
Corbitt D. Banks Volunteer Award
Stan Pokras created a community information “store” serving the information and referral needs of an artistic and entrepreneurial community on South Street, Philadelphia, in 1970 called
“Everything for Everybody.” This service could be characterized today as
“Craigslist” on 3″ x 5″ index cards. Residents found collaborators, employment, housing, friends, mentors and some found their future spouse.
It was there when his 50 year-long friendship with Linda Richardson began when Linda managed to have the Inquirer publish a note in a “Mr. Fix-It” box on the front page of the paper. Ever since, Pokras has considered Linda to be a magical friend and has tried to be of service to her and the Uptown Theater that she loved so much, dedicating countless volunteer hours to Uptown Theater projects.
WJYN Bob Davis Soul Patrol Award
E. Marie Lambert
E. Marie is the Founder and Executive Director of the True Way Youth Empowerment Foundation whose mission is to present youth with a wide range of experiences, options, and opportunities which enlighten, inspire, and empower youth to think outside the box and to develop strong character.
E. Marie can also be heard on WJYN Uptown Radio 98.5 FM on Mondays from 6 PM-7 PM as host of The “Talk to Reebs” Show. The show discusses a range of topics related to parenting, youth, education, and trending topics. E. Marie (dubbed “Reebs” by her children) gives her Generation X perspective and invites others to share via Facebook Live.
About the Uptown Theater & the UEDC
The legendary art-deco theater opened in the 1920s as a lavish movie house on North Broad Street near West Dauphin but quickly became a celebrated venue for African American entertainers. From the 1950s until it closed in 1978, it was comparable to Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Performers at the Uptown included Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, the Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Run DMC, and James Brown, among others. After it closed, the theater fell into disrepair, despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Andrea Brown, Linda Richardson and Corbitt D. Banks created the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation to spearhead the stabilization, preservation, and renovation of Philadelphia’s Historic Uptown Theater. Beyond a building, they created a movement to preserve African American history, nurture new leadership, build economic impact, influence policy and create a legacy that all can learn from.
Their development plans for the theater included renovating it as an entertainment venue, creating a museum dedicated to preserving Black music, developing a technology center, and providing commercial leasing space in the proposed Entertainment and Education Tower.