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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: McCoo, Davis to headline Soul Train Cruise

From the time they were kids, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. wanted to sing. Since then they have been living the dream with more than 50 years in entertainment, multiple Grammy awards, gold and platinum records and many mind-blowing achievements.

As lead vocalists in the 5th Dimension, they recorded classics such as “Up, Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “One Less Bell to Answer” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.”

Upon leaving the group after a decade as a duo act, they scored again with the No. 1 hit “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show).” That success led to them becoming the first African-American married couple to host a network television series (with Jay Leno and Tim Reid as regulars).

As solo artists, McCoo hosted the popular 1980s television series “Solid Gold,” was a regular for a year on “Days of Our Lives,” and appeared on Broadway in the revival of “Showboat.”

Davis went on to record a gospel album with the Rev. James Cleveland and also took stage roles in musicals “Blues in the Night” and “Dreamgirls.”

Now the two, celebrating their 48th anniversary, are joining “The Hippest Trip at Sea” as part of the Soul Train Cruise (www.soultraincruise.com or (844) 266-7685), setting sail for seven days from Fort Lauderdale to St. Maarten, St. Croix and the private island of Half Moon Cay, Jan. 27, 2018.

Charlie Wilson, Eddie Levert, Jeffrey Osborne, the Whispers, the Spinners, Gerald Alston, Howard Hewett, the Pointer Sisters, Maxi Priest, Rose Royce, the Trammps, the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, and more also will perform aboard the luxuriously appointed Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam.

“It’s funny because I met Don [Cornelius] before he started ‘Soul Train’ in Chicago,” Davis told Tasty Clips. “He was talking about it then and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know if that’s going to work.’ Next thing I know it was up and running. It was a beautiful thing to see and then for us to be a part of it was really the icing on the cake.”

McCoo believes some guests may be surprised by their concert.

“We have more R&B in our shows than people realize,” she said. “Many of our hits were pop, but by the time our show is over its like people are always saying, ‘We didn’t know you did all that kind of music.’ One of the beautiful things about the music of our era is that you hear the influences of it in all of the music today.”

One thing you won’t hear is her rendition of “Saving All My Love for You,” despite being the first to record the song.

“Mainly because it was Whitney [Houston]’s hit and done beautifully by her,” McCoo said. “We have so much music and so many songs to do we have to pick and choose. We try to sing the hits we think everyone wants to hear.”

As for the secret of their marriage, she says simply that they get along very well.

“We both have very strong personalities and strong opinions but we learned through the years the best thing about making relationships work is timing,” McCoo said. “Knowing when to say what you want to say, and knowing when this is not a good time.”

Added Davis, “You learn you may win the battle, but you may lose the war.”

CLIPPETTES: The Summer Soul Festival features Frankie Beverly & Maze and Loose Ends at the Galen Center on June 23. Also that evening, DJ’s Talib Kweli plus Vikter Duplaix bring their Kiss-n-Grind Summer 2017 Tour to the Globe Theatre; and Tank & the Bangas and Sweet Crude are performing a free concert at MacArthur Park’s Levitt Pavillion

On June 24, Charles Bradley hits the Arroyo Seco Weekend at the Rose Bowl; Dhani Harrison plays his first ever solo show at the Echo; and composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson pays homage to producer-rapper J Dilla with his Suite for Ma Dukes and New Originals at the Waterstage at Grand Performances

Denys Cowan, Erika Alexander and Hannibal Tabu are some of the participants of the BSAM convention featuring a screening of the documentary “Making SkyBreak” by Zo! on June 25 at Leimert Park. Later, Seu Jorge and orchestra top The Life Aquatic – A Tribute to David Bowie at the Hollywood Bowl; as 2 Chainz & Friends present Pretty Girls Like Trap at The Novo DTLA

Ray Parker Jr., Steve Lukather and Steve Vai are just a few of the top studio/touring musicians profiled in the all-new “Hired Gun: Out of the Shadows, Into the Spotlight” set to screen in cinemas followed by an exclusive question and answer session on June 29 via www.fathomevents.com.

TASTY QUIP: “Every time I watch that video, the question I ask myself is ‘How?’ Just how. How does a black person not get shot in America? Because if you think about it, the bar is always moving. The goalposts are always shifting. There’s always a different thing that explains why a person got shot.” – TREVOR NOAH on the death of Philando Castile

TC ON TV: June 23 – “CMT Crossroads” (CMT): Earth, Wind & Fire with Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride and Rascal Flatts. “Great Performances” (PBS): “Will.I.Am – Landmarks Live in Concert” features a reunion with the Black Eyed Peas at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

June 24 – “Autopsy: The Last Hours of … (Reelz): Gary Coleman.

June 25 – “2017 BET Awards” (BET): Leslie Jones hosts sets by Bruno Mars, Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, French Montana, Kamasi Washington, El DeBarge and others. “Power” (Starz): The 4th season begins. “Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror” (Reelz): A feature-length, partly dramatized biopic with insider interviews.

June 26 – “NBA Awards” (TNT): Drake hosts and Nicki Minaj performs for this inaugural event. “Big3” (FS1): Ice Cube’s new league with ex-stars like Allen Iverson jumps ball!

June 27 – “Tales” (BET): “F*** The Police” kicks off this series from Murder Inc. founder Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo which takes a song’s lyrics and presents them cinematically.

June 28 – “Hood Adjacent with James Davis” (Comedy): South Central L.A. comic gets a topical show. “Cleverman” (Sundance): The futuristic Aboriginal sci-fi series is back. “Lip Sync Battle” (Spike): Uzo Aduba takes on her “Orange is the New Black” co-star Danielle Brooks.

June 29 – “Nick Cannon Presents” Wild ‘N Out” (MTV): Chance the Rapper

TASTY QUIP: “I think African-Americans have a very convoluted relationship with patriotism. The fact is, we essentially were the abused child. We still love the parent, but you can’t overlook the fact that we have a very convoluted relationship with the parent. I absolutely love this country, but like so many people have some real questions and concerns about how things have gone down over the years and where we’re at. And that’s from a place of love, because I want the country to be what it says it is on paper.” – MAHERSHALA ALI to GQ


As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.