By Jackie Reau
Alicia Reece, Hamilton County Commissioner and Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame founder, led the announcement of the second class of inductees for the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame at the Hard Rock Cafe on June 1. The 2022 Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame inductees are Penny Ford, Wilbert Longmire, Midnight Star and Hi-Tek.
Penny Ford’s musical roots run deep down into her family tree. The daughter of Gene Redd Sr. (King Records), veteran record executive and producer, and singer Carolyn Ford, as well as sister to singer, Sharon Redd (the dance classic “Beat the Streets”), Ford was exposed to music early on because of her father’s work with James Brown and Kool and the Gang. Her formal background began at age 5 when she began taking piano lessons. Ford began performing in local talent shows in and around Cincinnati.
During her 1979 summer school vacation, Ford went out on tour with Dayton, Ohio funkateers, Zapp, as a part of ParliamentFunkadelic’s World Funk Tour. In 1986, Ford replaced Lorena Shelby as the lead singer of Klymaxx (“I Miss You”). Ford continues to do session and concert work in the U.S. and in Europe. She currently lives in Germany.
Wilbert Longmire played in the early 1960s in the music scene of Cincinnati. His first recordings were made in 1963 with the Hank Marr Quartet (“The Greasy Spoon,” Federal). Longmire was well known in jazz circles and performed with George Benson, and other jazz notables including Billy Eckstine, Lou Rawls, Jimmy Smit, Art Farmer, Herbie Hancock and Larry Corryell. He worked as a session musician for King Records with Red Prysock and Jack McDuff. He died in 2018 at the age of 77.
Midnight Star is best known as one of the most popular Techno-funk bands with a string of top mega #1 hits which include, “Operator,” “No Parking on the Dance Floor” and “Freak-a-zoid.”
Cincinnati native Reggie Calloway founded the band, and his brother, Vincent, later joined the group. The Calloway brothers also performed as Calloway with hits, including the #2 Pop anthem, “I Wanna Be Rich.”
Hi-Tek, born Tony Cottrell, is one of the few beatsmiths who has delivered aurally supreme, emotive music that seamlessly travels between sounds, styles and genres while always containing heavy doses of soul. The Cincinnati-based maestro created the sound that catapulted the independent New York rap renaissance into the mainstream in the late 1990s through his work with Mos Def and Talib Kweli as Black Star (“Definition,” “Respiration”) and with Talib Kweli as one-half of the group, Reflection Eternal (“Fortified Live,” “The Blast”). During this work, Hi-Tek became a staff producer for Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment. His first placement with Dr. Dre’s company was “Hollywood,” from singer, Truth Hurts. The song featured Dr. Dre rapping over Hi-Tek’s music.
These artists join the founding inductee stars honoring Bootsy Collins, the Isley Brothers, Dr Charles Fold and Otis Williams that will be permanently placed in the new interactive tourist attraction that will be free to families and honor Black music.
This public/private project is being built on the Ohio Riverbanks next to the Andrew Brady Center and across from Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Music Festival.
Commissioner Reece was joined by Stephanie Summerow Dumas, president of the Hamilton County Commissioners; Denise Driehaus, Hamilton County Commissioner; Sunita Sailor, Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati vice president of marketing; Lincoln Ware, Radio One; Damon Jones, chief communications officer, Procter & Gamble; Joe Santangelo, promoter of the Cincinnati Music Festival; Kent Butts, president, King Records Legacy Foundation; Joe Mallory, president, Cincinnati NAACP; and Ebony J and Don Juan Fo Sho, Radio One