Berlin, November 14th, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) -Thanks to the lady in the center of both the stage and the attention, Joyce 'Baby Jean' Kennedy and her partners, the endeavor Mother's Finest took off like a rocket. Ever since she founded this band with her colleagues, vocalist and percussion hero Glenn "Doc" Murdock, guitarist Gary "Moses Mo" Moore and bassist Jerry "Wyzard" Seay in 1970, they spread fascination all over the place with their approach and the unlimited energy they are still known for.
Joyce Kennedy on 'Fire'
In 1972, when their first album hit the record stores, Funk as we know it today was still in its development stage. Mother's Finest contributed to its advancement by integrating interesting off-beats into the sophisticated Blues Rock tunes with Gospel elements they played back then in Atlanta, Georgia.
'Love Changes' is one of the most beautiful ballads by Mother's Finest.
'Nigizz Can't Sing Rock 'n' Roll' was a pretty scandalous song title which caught people's attention once the second album was out in 1976. Scandalous or not, that little controversy helped the band enlarge its fan base. 'Fire', one of the group's all-time big hits, was part of that album too.
By the late 1970-s, Joyce Kennedy had developed the power of her unmistakable voice further. Also her stage presence had become unbeatable. If her middle name had not been 'Baby Jean' it would have had to be Energy. Holy cow! Those gigs they played provided truckloads of that.
Fascinated, in Love and Addicted
In 1978, something happened in Germany. In the city of Essen, one of their concerts was recorded for the ARD's TV series 'Rockpalast'. That gig was the greatest Funk Rock event of all time. It defined that genre and it presented the band to a huge audience. Joyce Kennedy and her colleagues Murdock, Seay, Moore, Keck (keyboards) and Borden (drums) raised the f*cking roof.
With his thick German accent, Albrecht Metzger announced the group in front of the camera: "German television proudly presents, as our guests, live in 'Rockpalast', Mother's Finest!" After the first bars of their first tune 'Dis Go Dis Way', the audience was fascinated. After the second song 'Rain', they were in love. And when Joyce Kennedy sang 'Baby Love', they were addicted.
'Baby Love' is one of their huge hits. It contains simplistic but convincing off-beats provided by bassist Jerry "Wyzard" Seay. Those turned this Blues Rock song into a stunning, funky experience and into the band's hymn. When DJs, including the author of these lines, played 'Baby Love' at parties in the late 1970-s and the 1980-s, the dance floor would fill up instantly.
Most Memorable 'Rockpalast' Gig
From that moment onward, fans in Germany would admire and follow Mother's Finest for decades. The group even returned to 'Rockpalast' in 2003 and 2016. Along with the 'Rockpalast' gigs by Earth, Wind & Fire (1979) and Rick James (1982), that Mother's Finest concert was one of greatest and most memorable ones the Germans ever captured.
Everyone was surprised when Joyce Kennedy released her first solo album.
More killer albums followed, including their legendary 1979 live record, 'Iron Age' and 'One Mother To Another'. In 1984, the fans were in for a big surprise. An album entitled 'Lookin' For Trouble' was released. The artist it was recorded by was not Mother's Finest, but Joyce Kennedy. Yes, it was the first of two solo albums she recorded.
The next surprise was the fact that 'Baby Jean' proved to the world that she could do smoother stuff too, including 'Stronger Than Before' by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. That same tune was recorded by Chaka Khan as well, that same year.
More Successful in Europe
With the album 'Looks Could Kill', Mother's Finest were reunited in 1989. And they have been ever since. Sure, they took well deserved breaks here and there, but the legend lives. 'Shut Up' is the title of their latest single. The fact that Joyce Kennedy is 72 years old by now does not show at all. She hasn't changed a bit.
All along, Mother's Finest were more successful in Europe than in the United States. They have done far more gigs on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2020, they were going to embark on another tour, but the damned Coronavirus f*cked it all up.
On April 30th, 2021, their European tour is scheduled to commence in Deventer and Leeuwarden (Netherlands). On May 5th, they will kill it at the Jazzfest Gronau (Germany), before heading over to Imst (Austria). Burgrieden (Germany) and Rubigen (Switzerland) are next. On May 10, they will be at the 'Kaufleuten', a Real Music oasis in Zurich.
Spreading the Funk Everywhere
The good news is that there are even more gigs. Mosbach, Rottweil, Mosbach, Leverkusen and Dortmund (all in Germany) will be covered. So will the excellent 'Porgy & Bess' club in Vienna, on May 18th, 2021. How about Bensheim, Hannover, Schiffdorf or Wetzlar? Remchingen or Koblenz, anyone? Well, then it's gotta be the legendary 'Fabrik' venue in Hamburg on May 28th.
One thing is certain: Mother's Finest are guilty of spreading the Funk in the first degree.