Black music month kicks off with Little Anthony
June in the radio and music industries is considered Black Music Month. To mark the occasion, our own Dean Meminger will talk to artists who have had a large impact on the world of music. Kicking things off this month is the man known as Little Anthony, who helped introduce the world to "doo-wop".
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Released back in 1958, "Tears On My Pillow", was the first song for Little Anthony and became an instant hit.
That song made Little Anthony a star, who was still in high school at the time.
"Now remember, 'Tears on my Pillow' had just come out. I didn't realize how big it had already become," said Jerome Anthony Gourdine. "And like every station you turned to was 'Tears On My Pillow'. So I said, what am I doing in school? I'm a star, I am out of here. I left."
Little Anthony's journey to musical fame was on its way with follow-up hits such as "Going Out of My Head" and "Hurts So Bad". And many more smash hits were to follow.
Some people referred to that sound as "doo-wop", but Little Anthony referred to it as rhythm and blues.
"We call it street corner, because that is where you basically sung it. Or you sang it in the subways to get that sound, because of the echoes," said Little Anthony.
He lived in the Fort Greene public housing development and went to Boys High School. Little Anthony said back in the day, he was part of a gang.
"I should have been dead. The things I did as a young man, I came up totally in the streets," he said.
However, with guidance from his parents who were both in the music industry, he pushed forward with his career. That falsetto voice of his was a huge help too. He can still hit many of those high notes today.
Little Anthony said, "It is just a gift that I have this voice. It's not like I have some formula, you take two pills and have some honey and your voice is great. No. Every day I open my mouth and it comes out. It's supernatural."
Today he is still performing with the original members of The Imperials. Over the years, a lot of Little Anthony's songs were about the pain and heartbreak that love can often bring. However, some of those same songs have brought him and his fans a lot of happy memories as well.