The Three Degrees - longest running female vocal group in history - is celebrating more than half a century in the music business with a 30-date UK tour that takes in The Ritz Ballroom, Brighouse.
Featuring two long-serving members - Helen Scott and Valerie Holiday - the band, which brought American soul music to the world, has also announced the release of its first studio album in 25 years, Strategy (Our Tribute to Philadelphia) on SoulMusicRecords.
The girl band to beat all girl bands can be seen in Brighouse on March 20, at the half-way point on a tour that will take The Three Degrees from Exeter in the South to the Buxton in the North.
Founded in Philadelphia in 1963, a city famed for its musical innovation, The Three Degrees has had a changing membership over the years - a total of 15 singers have been with the band. Helen was in at the beginning and initially stayed with the band for three years, rejoining in 1976. Valerie, however, has been a member since 1967. The third member of the trio today is Freddie Pool, who joined in 2011. One of their most famous hits was the 1974 single “When Will I See You Again”, which was a huge international hit, but they are also well known for other singles, such as Take Good Care of Yourself, Woman in Love and My Simple Heart.
The singers’ new album and stage show features tributes to timeless Philadelphia classics such as The O’Jays Love Train, Billy Paul’s Me & Mr Jones and the Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes hit If You Don’t Know Me By Now, as well as their own song The Sound of Philadelphia (T.S.O.P.).
Helen, who was brought up in the city, says: “This album holds a special place for me. I was raised in Philly and my exposure to the music of many Philadelphia artists was vast. T.S.O.P. came from two talented musical moguls, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who challenged the industry and put Philly on the map.”
Valerie describes how the threesome still enjoy taking their music out to live audiences: “We are blessed with a wide age group appeal.... from 15 to 65. We have opened a lot of doors for other entertainers. In some cases we may not have always succeeded but we have never given up. It still amazes me when we see teenagers singing along with our songs. And yet we still have the fans who have grown up with us.”
Tickets for the show, which starts at 8pm, are £19 from 01484 720058 or by visiting ritzballroombrighouse.co.uk