PARK RIDGE, IL, May 5, 2017 – Many will remember during the 1970s when music dance clubs – discotheques — became extremely popular. Young people, wearing polyester bell-bottoms or hotpants in psychedelic colors or floral patterns and platform shoes, lined up outside popular clubs for a chance to enter dance floors lit with bright, pulsing lights and dance to recorded music with a pounding beat. “Disco” was the word that described the clubs, the music, the dance style, and the fashions that grew out of the “anything goes” scene.
Well, bell-bottoms, hotpants and platforms will be optional attire on Saturday, June 3 when the Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) performs its final concert of the 2016-17 season with “Celebrate the ‘70s” at 7:30 p.m. at All Saints Lutheran Church in Palatine. The church setting should not discourage concert-goers from dancing to their favorite disco beats.
Eleven of the songs featured on the concert program have been recognized as “No 1” hits on the “Billboard Magazine Hot 100” charts during the 1970s. Nine of the concert songs are included on VH-1’s (cable network) list of “100 Greatest Dance Songs” and three of the songs appeared on the “Rolling Stone Magazine List of Top Ten Disco Songs of All Time”.
In 1977, disco dance history reached its peak with the release of the film and album Saturday Night Fever, catapulting John Travolta to iconic status worldwide. The film’s soundtrack featured music by artists such as the Bee Gees (six songs), KC and the Sunshine Band and the Trammps, and became the second most successful soundtrack album ever sold. Saturday Night Fever songs on the NWCS concert program from these artists include “Stayin’ Alive”, “Boggie Shoes”, and “Disco Inferno”, respectively.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bee Gees’ first hit, “To Love Somebody” (although they already had performed together for a decade), as well as the 40th anniversary of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which made Barry Gibb and twin brothers Maurice and Robin worldwide superstars.
The Bee Gees wrote all of their own hits, as well as writing and producing several major hits for other artists. During a nine-month period beginning in late 1977, seven songs written by the brothers held the No. 1 position on the US charts for 27 of 37 consecutive weeks: three of their own releases, two for brother Andy Gibb, a Yvonne Elliman single, and “Grease“, performed by Frankie Valli. Barry Gibb became the only songwriter to have four consecutive No. 1 hits in the US, breaking the John Lennon and Paul McCartney 1964 record. These songs were “Stayin’ Alive”, “Love Is Thicker Than Water”, “Night Fever”, and “If I Can’t Have You”. The Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
“Stayin’ Alive” will be performed at the concert by the Northwest Choral Society a cappella group House Blend, which includes David Hitch (Des Plaines), Jeff Rayner (Schaumburg), John Schindler (Des Plaines), Greg Park (Buffalo Grove), Angela Carlson (Arlington Heights), Beth Phillips (Forest Park), Sara Snider (Mundelein), and Kristie Webb-Williams (Libertyville).
ABBA — Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — rose out of Stockholm, Sweden in the seventies to become one of the most commercially successful pop groups in music history. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 by the Bee Gees. During their active career, from 1972 to 1982, ABBA placed twenty singles on the “Billboard Magazine Hot 100” charts, fourteen of which made the top 40 and ten of which made the Top 20. The only ABBA song to reach a No. 1 position was disco favorite “Dancing Queen”, which will be performed by NWCS at the June 3 concert, along with a medley of ABBA hits, “Honey, Honey”, “Does Your Mother Know”, and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme”. In 2015, “Dancing Queen” was inducted into the Recording Academy‘s Grammy Hall of Fame.
Two late 1970s NWCS concert songs that have stood the test of time and are still heard today at weddings, parties and are popular anthem for sporting events are “Celebration”, originally recorded by Kool & the Gang, and “Y.M.C.A.” by Village People; the later only reached a No. 2 position on the “Billboard Magazine Hot 100” charts, but is one of fewer than 40 singles to have sold 10 million or more copies worldwide.
Also on the NWCS concert program are the following ‘70s favorites: “ABC”, originally recorded by The Jackson 5; “Joy to the World” (as in “Jeremiah was a bullfrog. . .”), originally sung by Three Dog Night; “You’re the One that I Want”, from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease; “Boggie Wonderland”, a hit from Earth, Wind and Fire; “I Will Survive”, first performed by Gloria Gaynor (in 2016, the Library of Congress deemed Gaynor’s original recording to be “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry); and more.
NWCS is under the direction of artistic director Alan Wellman. The chorus will be accompanied by the Northwest Chorus Society Pit Band for this concert.
Tickets for the “Celebrate the ‘70s” concert are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at www.nwchoralsociety.org, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or an hour prior to the concert at the All Saints Lutheran Church, 630 South Quentin Road, Palatine. Ample parking is available in the church lot.
Rehearsals for the NWCS’s 2017-18 season will begin on September 5, with the new session’s first concert, “Global Holiday”, scheduled for December 3 at St. Raymond de Penafort Church in Mt. Prospect.
Lipke-Kentex-Hesse / Dionne Supply of Chicago is providing much appreciated sponsorship financial support for the Northwest Choral Society’s 2016-17 concert season.
Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature. Its adult membership resides in the greater Chicago area.
The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization. Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.