R&B Foundation honors pioneers of musical genre

— When George Clinton started his band decades ago, he hadn't yet come up with the wild costumes or tripped-out funk grooves that define it today.

"It started out as a doo-wop group," Clinton said of the Parliaments, which would eventually become the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, among other offshoots of his "P-Funk" family.

"Once we decided to change from that, we went as far as we could ... from diapers to any kind of costume that anyone might have on."

Clinton's funky contribution to music, and to R&B; in particular, was noted Thursday night when the Rhythm & Blues Foundation honored him as one of its pioneers.

Other honorees were saxophonist Maceo Parker, best known as James Brown's sideman; blues singer Koko Taylor; New Orleans-based musician Clarence "Frogman" Henry; Johnny Nash, who had the hit "I Can See Clearly Now"; doo-wop group The Del Vikings; the '60s girl group The Dixie Cups; and Motown legends The Supremes.

The late R&B; crooner Jackie Wilson received the foundation's legacy tribute; Dionne Warwick its lifetime achievement award.

"It's wonderful to be recognized, and for them to finally understand that after 47 years," Warwick said.

Warwick, whose hits include "Don't Make Me Over," "I Say A Little Prayer," and "Do You Know The Way to San Jose," has generally been considered more of a pop singer than an R&B; singer. But she says her music is "whatever the listening ear decides."

Clinton describes Funkadelic's sound as "definitely R&B; based.

"But it's also the DNA for hip-hop, for alternative, for techno and everything else."

Blues veteran Taylor acknowledged the award was an important personal achievement for her.

"It means everything to me," she said. "I'd rather chop off my right arm than not have gotten this award."


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