The O'Jays will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at War Memorial Auditorium as part of the fifth annual African American Arts Festival.
R&B favorites for more than 30 years, the O'Jays have five platinum albums to their credit and hit songs such as ``Love Train,' ``Used ta Be My Girl' and ``Back Stabbers.'What is now a three-man group was formed in 1958 in Canton, Ohio, where Eddie Levert and Walter Williams sang as a gospel duo.
The two went on to form a doo-wop group, the Mascots, with William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. As a gesture of thanks for the helpful career advice of Cleveland disc jockey Eddie O'Jay, the Mascots became the O'Jays in the early 1960s.
Isles left the group in 1965. Under the Imperial and Bell labels, the O'Jays had only minor success, and members talked of retiring. But in 1968 the group signed with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and their Neptune label, and had a No. 17 R&B hit, ``Looky Looky (Look at Me, Girl),' on that label in 1970.
When Neptune folded in 1971, Massey left the O'Jays to delve into record producing.
Under Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International label, the O'Jays had eight No. 1 R&B singles from 1972 to 1978, including 1975's ``I Love Music (Part I).'
Sammy Strain, who was a member of Little Anthony and the Imperials for 12 years, replaced Powell, who died in 1977.
Tickets are $20, $18.50 for senior citizens and students with identification. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketron outlets or charged by calling (800) 543-3041.
The African American Arts Festival is continuing during Black History Month. It is produced by the United Arts Council with sponsorship by Miller Brewing Co., the Greensboro News & Record, WQMG (97.1 FM), North Carolina Grassroots Program, Dr. and Mrs. Gerald Truesdale, Dr. and Mrs. Preston Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Williams, Dr. and Mrs. James McKie and Dr. Barbara Saunders. To obtain a schedule of events, call the United Arts Council at 333-7440.
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