Jerry Vicenti is the godfather of The Villages Paisans Club and he spiced up his birthday Sunday with tasty cannoli and some sweet soul music.
The Sounds of Soul gave a pulsating, energetic and hot performance in the SeaBreeze Recreation Center. And Vicenti – along with wife Annette – couldn’t resist a turn on the dance floor to what might have been his theme song on this night: “Play that Funky Music White Boy.”
The six singers and six-piece band that make-up the Sounds of Soul took Paisans Club members on a musical journey from Motown to Prince. The setlist included the Temptations, Four Tops, Jackson Five, Earth Wind and Fire, Gladys Knight and Sister Sledge.
The group delivered such standards as “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Kiss,” “Remember,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Superstition” and a rousing finale of “We Are Family.”
This was a deep, soulful excursion that crossed all American music and cultural boundaries.
“I grew up in a poor section of Staten Island and I always loved this music,” said Vicenti, who was dishing out cannoli to members during intermission. “This music still means a lot to me. It makes people so happy.”
Latraia Savage of the Sounds of Soul understands that feeling.
“Music is the great equalizer,” said the singer who led the group in a Supremes medley that included “Stop In the Name of Love” and “Baby Love.”
“Music is a powerful, universal tool,” Savage said. “It reaches all races, and all generations. That’s what this music is all about.”
Villager Linda Mlaka, who attended the show with her sister Beverly Massaroni, agreed. “When I hear Motown, I don’t see a color,” Mlaka said. “All I see and hear is the song. And they’re great songs.”
Especially the way Sounds of Soul performed those historic numbers that will forever shadow the generation that came of age with soul music.
“It’s great to see a talented group like this playing this music live,” Massaroni said. “They make you feel the music.”
The Sounds of Soul singers are: Gloria Williams, Sierra Amora, Latraia Savage, Marcus Robinson, Jayson Camaro and Jay Jay Johnson.
It didn’t take long for the Sounds of Soul to turn up the musical heat. They opened with “Get Ready,” and Jayson Camaro sang lead. Jay Jay Johnson followed up with a powerful “My Girl,” that would have made David Ruffin proud.
Next up was “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” as the group –backed by a tight six-piece band — brought another Temptations’ signature song to life.
The real show-stopper came when Gloria Williams took the microphone and offered an emotional, almost spiritual version of “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Williams made the Gladys Knight classic all her own. It was a defining moment in this concert filled with so many powerful performances.
But it wasn’t just the music that made this show so special. Sounds of Soul have the fashion, the look and especially the choreography of the great Motown groups.
Jayson Camaro is the youthful member of Sounds of Soul, and he did not disappoint with a smooth and saucy version of Prince’s “Kiss.” He also scored a huge ovation with a surprise and elegant cover of Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” The Pasians loved it.
Sierra Amora also added some youthful punch to another Gladys Knight and the Pips hit: “Midnight Train To Georgia.
Marcus Robinson took the lead on Earth Wind and Fire numbers and also made his way into the audience to sing to fans, including Villager Patty Fusco.
Savage also made her way into the crowd and really turned up the juice on some Jackson Five tunes, including “ABC,” and a soft “I’ll Be There.” She also called Jerry Vicenti up to the stage and serenaded him with a soulful “Happy Birthday.”
Sounds of Soul closed the night with “We Are Family,” and the audience was standing and singing along.
“This is so great,” Jerry Vicenti said with a smile. “You know, we’ve been doing this with the Pasians for almost 12 years. Nights and shows like this make it all worthwhile.”
Tony Violanti covers music and entertainment for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.