Maze featuring Frankie Beverly has been the embodiment of silky soul and stylings reminiscent of Mr. Gaye himself since they stepped on the scene in the '70s. With a prolific career spanning over four decades, the group's hits, including "Back in Stride," "Before I Let Go" and "Can't Get Over You" and countless more, became the soundtrack for many fans' childhoods across the world.
Lead singer Frankie Beverly began the group that was then known as The Butlers in his hometown of Philadelphia. From the beginning, Beverly's strong tenor voice, songwriting and producing skills, coupled with the unmatched musical ability of the band and background singers, made the group stand out immediately. After catching the eye of legendary songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble, the group recorded several songs in1963. Ready for a new direction creatively, and figuratively, the group relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and rechristened themselves as Raw Soul. Soon after, Raw Soul was introduced to Marvin Gaye in a meeting that would birth musical magic — and a name change for the group. After touring with Gaye as his opening act in '76, the legend suggested that the group rename themselves Maze. They released their debut album with that name, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, that same year under Capitol Records. The album went gold and gave us hits like "Happy Feelin's" and "Lady of Magic."
While their contemporaries moved on from soul and traversed in the world of pop, Maze stayed true to their soulful roots, earning them a massive fanbase from all around the world and countless Billboard chart-topping hits. The band owned the '80s with unforgettable records like "Travelin' Man," "Feel That You're Feeling," "Joy and Pain" and "Look in Your Eyes."
Although the band gave fans hit after hit and continued to gain recognition the world over, their amazing, magical live performance pushed them into legendary status. They solidified this status with the release of Live in New Orleans, turning into a household name in the U.S. and further increasing their fanbase in the U.K. "Before I Let Go" came from that recording session, and is arguably one of the best soul songs of all time. Maze recorded most of the album in the legendary Saenger Theatre in just two days in November 1980. After releasing Can't Stop the Love in March 1985, the group gained their first number one hit with "Back in Stride." Soon after, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly signed to Warner Bros. in 1989 and released Silky Soul andBack to Basics under the imprint, adding to their bevy of hits and continuing to infuse the industry with real soul music. If anyone doubted the group, they soon knew that Maze was a legend among their contemporaries. To honor the group's accomplishments, a tribute album of critically acclaimed hits, Silky Soul Music: An All Star Tribute to Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, was released in 2009. The album featured Mary J. Blige, Musiq Soulchild and Raheem DeVaughn, to name a few. On September 2, 2011, percussionist and background singer McKinley "Bug" Williams died of a heart attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Today, in an industry where lip-syncing to tracks is the norm, forgoing real soul for pop music is accepted and an artist's integrity is for sale, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly continues to move us with Beverly's powerhouse live voice, their perfectly-pitched booth-quality background vocals and unforgettable instrumentation. They continue to perform to awe-inspired crowds, letting our minds drift back to a time when life was simpler and filled with soul.