Kenneth St. Lewis

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Kenneth St. Lewis, a Washington, D.C., native, met producer Freddie Perren at D.C.'s Howard University talent show and the two decided to write songs together. Relocating to Los Angeles, Perren became…
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Kenneth St. Lewis, a Washington, D.C., native, met producer Freddie Perren at D.C.'s Howard University talent show and the two decided to write songs together. Relocating to Los Angeles, Perren became a part of the Corporation, the Motown songwriter/producer/arranger collective that co-wrote and produced a string of number one R&B/pop hits for the Jackson 5, among others. Later, Perren singularly produced the Miracles and Peaches & Herb. St. Lewis eventually moved to L.A. and co-wrote with Perren, producing the 1974 track "Farewell My Summer Love" for Michael Jackson (which wasn't issued until 1984). A few years later, Perren was thinking about retiring from the music business when he met up with an old college friend, Larkin Arnold. Arnold had become president of Capitol Records and had just signed the Sylvers. He suggested Perren write songs for the new signees. One of the songs co-written by St. Lewis, "Boogie Fever," met the immediate approval of Arnold. "Boogie Fever," a certified gold single, hit both number one R&B and number one pop on Billboard's charts in late 1975. Another Sylvers gold single written by St. Lewis and Perren was "Hot Line," a number three R&B and number five pop hit in fall 1976 from the Sylvers' Something Special LP.

Based on the success of "Boogie Fever," Arnold tapped Perren to produce one of Capitol's most successful acts, the five-brother vocal group Tavares. Perren and St. Lewis wrote the sparkling "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel (Part 1)," which was a million seller, hitting number three on the R&B chart for the group in spring 1976, and was included on their LP Sky High!. The LP also included another St. Lewis/Perren song, "Don't Take Away the Music" (number 14 R&B). Asked to write a follow-up, the songwriters came up with the mid-tempo "Whodunit." Perren was initially skeptical of the song because he'd had his biggest hits with up-tempo tunes. But based on the enthusiasm of Arnold and Tavares' manager Brian Potter, he took Tavares into the studio to record it. The session lineup (one of Perren's favorites) included drummer James Gadson, bassist Scott Edwards, keyboardists John Barnes and Sonny Burke, percussionist Bob Zimitti, and conga player Paulinho Da Costa. "Whodunit" went to number one R&B in spring 1977, and was on the LP Love Storm. St. Lewis also co-wrote "(Back Down) Memory Lane," one of the final tracks of Minnie Riperton's. Another Kenneth St. Lewis-related release is Gene Chandler's Nothing Can Stop Me: Gene Chandler's Greatest Hits.