Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Funkytown’

Twenty-one years ago, I visited Minneapolis to report on the music scene there. Met a popular nightclub singer named Cynthia Johnson. She gave a great interview.

Ms. Johnson had been the lead singer of a local funk band called Flyte Tyme... which used to compete directly with Prince’s local funk band, Grand Central.

Flyte Tyme included “Jimmy Jam” Harris, Terry Lewis and Jellybean Johnson, while Grand Central included Morris Day and the artist soon to be known as André Cymone. (How’s that for a couple of high-school bands?)

Look at the photo above. That’s Cynthia Johnson fronting Flyte Tyme... with Terry, Jellybean and Sue Ann Carwell in the background. (Remember Sue Ann?)

Irony of the story is... in 1980, Cynthia Johnson was a bigger deal in the music business than Jimmy & Terry, Morris Day and André Cymone put together. Because she was the voice on the international smash-hit disco record “Funkytown” by Lipps, Inc.


Invisible Woman said...

wow, that was an awesome informational post; very interesting.

but i must say, "funky town" always has, and always will be, like nails on chalkboard squared for me--her singing style being the main reason.

do you know what she's doing now?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Thanks, IW. Cynthia Johnson is still performing in Minneapolis.

Here's her website.

bklyn6 said...

Loved the backstory, UBM.

Never heard of Cynthia Johnson. (Wonder if she's related to Jellybean or Jesse?) But I'm a fan of "Funky Town." I remember hearing that Lipps, Inc. was a pun on lip sync.

I definitely remember Sue Ann and her song "Let Me Let You Rock Me."

Michael Murray said...

Nice post. Designer Music is the worst album I have ever heard.

That's quite a musical tree. I can't think of one more talented.

DRE said...

Wow. Did not know that. Thank you for putting me up on that bit of info. I dug Funkytown, but I would have never made the connection to Cynthia or Flyte Tyme.

Get Togetha said...

yes...Love the backstory of when music had the certain something...some artists are promising today...but we certainly had a better buffet to choose from back in the day...today's really talented artists get drowned out of today's push-for-profit music...


Val said...

That was very interesting. I hope someone eventually makes a doc on the 1970/ 80's Minneapolis music scene. So many talented people came out of there, as you point out, at one time.