WBEZ | mario lanza http://www.wbez.org/tags/mario-lanza Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Music Thursday: Crossover Recordings http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-01-24/music-thursday-crossover-recordings-105116 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_wrestlingentropy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>&quot;Oh Happy Day&quot; by The Edwin Hawkins Singers</strong></p><p>If you were around in 1969, it&rsquo;s unlikely that you missed hearing a recording by the Edwin Hawkins Singers called &ldquo;Oh Happy Day.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s said to be the first traditional gospel song to ever cross over and hit the pop chart&rsquo;s top 5. And it happened by accident. Hawkins was a gospel pianist and arranger in Berkeley, Calif. &ldquo;Oh Happy Day&rdquo; was one of several arrangements he put together for an album recording session for his choir with Dorothy Morrison on lead vocals. The group used an old two-track machine to record the songs in the church sanctuary. They hoped to sell a modest 500 copies, enough to finance the choir&rsquo;s trip to compete in a competition in Washington D.C. They didn&rsquo;t win, but when they got back home, they discovered that a San Francisco DJ was playing the record. It caught fire locally and then across the country. There was a bit of local controversy about the record: Some members of the denomination circulated a petition asking secular radio stations to stop playing it, though their efforts were unsuccessful. Over the years, there have been several versions of &ldquo;Oh Happy Day.&rdquo; One of those was featured in the 1993 movie Sister Act II with Whoopi Goldberg.</p><p><strong>&quot;Be My Love&quot; by Mario Lanza</strong></p><p>Mario Lanza was an operatic tenor who became a Hollywood movie star in the late &lsquo;40s and early &lsquo;50s. During his early years in opera, he took on a major role in a New Orleans Opera&rsquo;s presentation of Puccini&rsquo;s Madame Butterfly. He also starred in a hit movie called The Great Caruso about the life of opera great Enrico Caruso. I became aware of Mario Lanza when I was about 10. I loved listening to the radio and absorbed everything I heard. It was 1951, so I wasn&rsquo;t distracted by &ldquo;too much television.&rdquo; All the pop music programs consistently played a recording called &ldquo;Be My Love&rdquo; from Lanza&rsquo;s second film. He had a great voice, and I was impressed. As it turns out, I was not the only one. The record hit number 1 on the Billboard pop chart and sold more than 2 million copies. There was no official category called crossover in 1951, but if there had been, Mario Lanza&rsquo;s recording of &ldquo;Be My Love&rdquo; would have defined it perfectly.</p><p><strong>&quot;Stuck On You&quot; by Lionel Richie</strong></p><p>Lionel Richie is perhaps best known as a founding member of the very successful soul/funk band, the Commodores. He&rsquo;s also a Grammy-winning solo artist and songwriter with an astounding track record of writing and recording credits. On his 1993 album release called Can&rsquo;t Slow Down, the fourth single called &ldquo;Stuck On You&rdquo; had a decidedly country flavor. In fact on the cover of that single release, there&rsquo;s a photo of Richie wearing a cowboy hat and a western shirt. &ldquo;Stuck On You&rdquo; did well on the country music charts and hit number one on the Adult Contemporary chart. Richie had success last year with the release of a country album called Tuskegee with a number of guest performers, including Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 08:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-01-24/music-thursday-crossover-recordings-105116