Don Blackman is an enigmatic figure in the musical realm. He has rubbed elbows with the best and produced a masterpiece solo record, yet he has never gotten the recognition he fully deserved. Indeed his resume reads like a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer and on the day following his untimely demise, I hope to shed light on his incredible contribution to our ears and souls.
Growing up a neighbour to jazz man Charles McPhearson Blackman integrated his band and went on to play with musical juggernauts Parliament/Funkadelic, EarthWind&Fire and Roy Ayers. Blackman always had his own ideas, however, and it’s his production and songwriting that have really left a lasting legacy. He wrote Twennynine’s hit Peanut Butter, but for me his best song was Morning Sunrise which was beautifully interpreted by Weldon Irvine with Don on vocals. He also helped Irvine with the stunning and uplifting ‘I Love You’. Blackman had a big impact on hiphop as a session musician for Kurtis Blow and more specifically with his protégé Bernard ‘Nard’ Wright whose album was a staple in crafting of the G-Funk sound and a direct influence on Dr. Dre using session musicians for his beatmaking.
L the Headtoucha’s ’Too Complex’’ was my first introduction to Don Blackman’s music and once I heard the original sample ‘Holding You Loving You’ I had to own the record. Indeed, Blackman’s only LP released on Arista is an absolute masterpiece and a blueprint to the modern soul sound. It holds up to any beaded hair era Stevie Wonder record and it is an expression of Don’s sound, personal feelings and absolute creative freedom. Stunning songs, so well crafted and produced it really feels like a musical diary. ‘Since You’ve Been Away So Long’ is the perfect example of Blackman’s unique song structure where the hook is predominant and the vocals are intimate, but ultimately the arrangements are the real star. Anyone with a soul sensitivity or a funky tangent can’t help but love this opus and the S/T LP is an absolute essential album for boogie and modern soul aficionados’ repertoire.
Blackman will be remembered for his free flowing melodies and his masterful craftsmanship behind the boards, keys, microphone and pen. He will be missed but his music will live on forever.Don Blackman - Holding You Loving You Don Blackman - Since You’ve Been Away So Long Weldon Irvine - Morning Sunrise Weldon Irvine - I Love You