A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from November 18, 2004
“Native New Yorker” (1977)
"Native New Yorker," from a group called Odyssey, is often described as a "disco" hit. However, it's also Carribean - the singers are from the Virgin Islands!

Originally formed in 1968 as a "family act", sisters Carmen, Lillian and Louise Lopez gathered together to sing in harmony as The Lopez Sisters. The trio found work in and around New York, mainly the usual gigs such as weddings, parties, and small clubs. After struggling for many years without success, sister Carmen chose to opt out for marriage and domesticity.

Lillian and Louise decided that a new sound was needed to enhance their chances for success, enter Manilla-born Tony Reynolds. With the new line-up a name change was in order. Lillian and Louise were embarking on a new odyssey with a male singer and a more pop oriented sound, hence....Odyssey!

Although raised in New York city, the sisters were actually born in the Virgin Islands and infused much of their heritage into their music giving it a Carribean feel. Carribean music with it's rhythmic beat was a natural bridge to somewhat more mainstream dance music. That's probably why Odyssey was mistaken as a "disco group" in the beginning. A listen to their debut album and one quickly realizes that it's not at all like other 1977 "disco albums".

It was a chance meeting with Tommy Mottola (the former Mr. Mariah Carey and Pres. of Sony Music), who was an executive at RCA Records and flush with success on his discovery and management of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band that brought Odyssey to RCA Records. Mottola wanting to strike "gold" again paired Odyssey with Savannah Band producer Sandy Linzer. Linzer had a knack for creating dance (disco) hits from non "disco artists". His work with Odyssey on their first album did create their biggest hit, "Native New Yorker," but the album itself has a wider range of sounds. Listen to the very Carribean "Easy Come, Easy Go-Hold De Mota Down" or the unique "Ever-Lovin' Sam" as evidence. And "Native New Yorker" can often be heard on easy listening radio stations.

Posted by Barry Popik
Music/Dance/Theatre/Film/Circus • Thursday, November 18, 2004 • Permalink

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