Award Winning Legendary R&B Group, The Whispers, Shout About a Secret of Huge News! Who Would Have Thought a Whisper Could Make So Much Noise!
One of our lifetime's most polished, talented, and smoothest groups is The Legendary "Whispers." Despite their significant impact on the music industry since the late 1960s. "And the Beat Goes On" in 1980 and "Rock Steady" in 1987 were their breakout chart-toppers. Following that, numerous albums and hit singles achieved tremendous success. In addition to 15 top ten R&B singles, The Whispers also recorded eight top ten R&B albums, two of which reached No. 1. The RIAA has awarded them two platinum and five gold albums. Scotty, Walter, and Leaveil, three members of the Whispers, gave me a chance to speak with them about their incredible journey. Here is what they shared with me.
It is a pleasure to speak with you today, gentlemen.
The Whispers: Thank you.
My pleasure. OK, seven gold albums, two platinum albums, one double platinum album, 12 top 20 singles, and 40 charted hits since 1970. You have four decades of pop and R&B American Music Award nominations, Soul Train Music Awards, and Grammy Awards nominations. You were inducted into the "Vocal Group Hall of Fame and received the SF Regional Grammy Governors Award. That's awesome! Again, congratulations to you all. Walter Scott, Wallace "Scotty" Scott, & Leaveil DeGree of the smooth, soulful group we all love, known as "The Whispers," it's a pleasure.
The Whispers: Thank you.
OK, gentlemen, I need your help. Two individuals appear to be the same person. Leaveil, there's no doubt in my mind who you are, but when it comes to the twins, I need help. So, who's who? Let's start with your right. (Laughs)
Walter: I'm Walter.
Scotty: I'm Scotty.
Leaveil: And I'm, Leaveil.
This is great! I appreciate that. Where does everyone currently reside?
Walter: Scotty and I were born in Texas but currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. We live right around the corner from each other.
Awesome! And what about you, Leaveil? Where were you born, and where are you located?
Leaveil: I was born in New Orleans but raised in California. I have a lot of family there, but I only know a little about New Orleans besides its great food. That's about it. (Laughs)
The food in New Orleans is fantastic, I agree. In this interview, I hope to give your fans an even better understanding of you by asking you a few random questions. Are you ready?
The Whispers: Alright.
Awesome! When you were young, what was your favorite ice cream from the ice cream truck?
Walter: Oh, that's easy for me. Yeah, it's called lemon custard. To this day, that's still my favorite.
Leaveil: My favorite ice cream from the Ice-cream truck was push-ups. I loved them.
Scotty: I was a simple vanilla drumstick guy.
Thank you, gentlemen. OK, so what was your favorite childhood toy?
Walter: Wow, that's a good one.
Leaveil: We didn't have scooters back then, so we made our own. We would attach a milk crate to a board and use it as a scooter. Therefore, I made my childhood favorite toy, a scooter.
Walter: I didn't have a favorite toy until I was about 6 or 7 when I got my first bike.
Scotty: We both got one.
Walter: Having that bike made me feel like I was in heaven. I rolled off by myself and daydreamed that I could go all over the world on that bike. So, that was my favorite.
What type of bike was it? A Huffy or a 10-speed?
Walter: No, it was called a "Schwinn." They were extremely popular, and we wanted them. My dad had to save up to get two of them because it was two of us. So, when we received those Schwinn bikes for Christmas, I was a happy guy.
Leaveil: Back then, the only speed you had was your speed. (Laughs)
Walter: Right. There wasn't such a thing as a 10-speed bike. It didn't exist.
Scotty: One chain. That was it.
That's hilarious! OK. What was your favorite childhood cereal?
Scotty: You know, you're assuming that we had cereal back then.
Scotty: Back in those days, it was a little different. It wasn't so much about the cereal. I remember eating boiled eggs more than eating cereal. Even today, I still eat them.
Walter: We did have cornflakes.
Scotty: Cornflakes have been around forever.
Walter: We didn't have then what most people have today. Today there is such a variety. But back when we came up, it was cornflakes, as I remember eating.
Leaveil: We had Oatmeal because it went in the pot small and came out big.
The Twins: (Laughs)
Leaveil: When we were kids, our bellies needed to be filled, and we had oatmeal. So, Oatmeal was one of my favorites, and I still love it.
OK. What was your first chick magnet outfit when you began dating?
Walter: We're going to show you our ages now. When I went on my first date at 16, there were no Levis, only khakis. We wore khakis with cuffs at that time. Both of us received a pair from my mom. We had two pairs of grey khakis and two pairs of tan khakis. So, when I wore them on my first date, I thought I looked dressed up. I had on khakis and a nice and a nice shirt. Carolyn was the girl I went out with on my first date. I took time to get her to go out with me, but I eventually did. So, yeah, I wore khakis. This is what I remember.
Scotty: I'll be honest with you. On my first date, I can't even recall what I wore. I dated late, and it was so long ago. I stayed a kid for a very long time. It was my choice because I enjoyed it so much. As for the dating part, I don't remember much.
Leaveil, how was your experience?
Leaveil: Now that I think about it, that's why it took me so long to get a date. (Laughs) But I wore a V-neck sweater with slacks and penny loafers. With that on, I thought it was the cat's meow. But it took me a long time to get a date.
Love this! OK, gentlemen, what was your dream car as a teenager?
Walter: My dream car was a two-door Corvair. It looked almost like a little sports car. The money I saved from working at a shoe store allowed me to put a down payment on a Corvair. I was the happiest guy in the world. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
On the Corvair, the engine was in the back. As far as I was concerned, that was my Corvette, and I loved it! No question about it.
Scotty: I didn't have a car for quite a while because, as I said, I was too busy being a kid, having fun in the desert chasing lizards and that sort of thing. When I finally got a car, that was later. I didn't have a car as a teenager.
Leaveil: As a teenager, I dreamed of owning a Porsche. Mostly because my father exposed us to many things, made us see things, and took us places. Although we didn't have much money, he would put us all in the car and drive us to Beverly Hills, CA. While there, I remember us passing all these stores with Ferraris, Porsches, and Rolls-Royces.
So, the first time I saw the "Porsche," I fell in love with it. At that moment, I thought this would be my dream car when I grew up, and in 1979, I bought a 930 Porsche. My dream became a reality.
It took time to get it, but when we got our first hit with what people like to call the new "Whispers," and we started making some real money, I went straight to the store and bought the Porsche on the showroom floor.
Do you still have it?
Leaveil: No, unfortunately not. Back in those days, they were stealing Porsche like crazy. It broke my heart, but it taught me not to put my heart into an object like that because it's not worth it.
Since I hardly drove my Porsche when I had it, I now drive the daylight out of everything I own. In the past, when I had my Porsche, I would drive it, wipe it down, and then put it back in the garage. I didn't want to drive it. It had around 1600 miles when I bought it and about 3000 miles when it was stolen. My experience with that car taught me many valuable lessons.
It's an important lesson, indeed. I hope someone reading this today will hear and heed what you have said—certainly a lesson worth learning. As well-traveled men, can you tell me about the scariest airplane ride you have ever taken?
Walter: I don't quite remember what year this was, but I remember flying back to California, and we were told that the landing gear was not working, and they were working on it. This had to be about maybe 15 years ago.
And, of course, people were saying, man, what do we do and how to tell our loved ones because we thought this was it. They told us to stay tuned, but for about 40 minutes, we were under the impression that we would have to land without the landing gear coming down. That was the scariest feeling I have ever had, and I was a soldier who went to the Vietnam War. That was scary enough, but this was one of the scariest moments of my life. That's a frightening feeling when you think you won't be here in the next half hour or so. I'll never forget that.
The good thing is that they were able to get the landing gear to come down, and we were able to land safely. They let us know that it came down, and everybody sighed a sigh of relief. But that was a scary moment for me.
Leaveil: I wasn't on that flight because we usually fly out of different airlines. Now, I'm a pilot, so I'm seldom scared when it comes to flying, and it doesn't bother me as much when they bump around. But, one time, when we were arriving in Ontario, CA, for some reason, they had a severe storm there, and the winds were blowing like crazy. Because of the severity of the wind, they couldn't land in Ontario after two attempts coming down.
Then they said, "OK, we can't land here." My first thought was, OK, if we can't land, then where are we going?
The Twins: (laughs)
Leaveil: In the end, he landed at the Orange County Airport. At that moment, I was like, "OK!". However, I'm usually not too frightened when crazy things happen. When your time comes, it comes.
I agree. God has the final say in all things. For me, as a Christian, the worst thing that can happen is not to die but to die without accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. To me, that would be the worst thing ever. Scotty, what about you? Have you had any nightmare flights?
Scotty: No. I've been lucky because I haven't had any scary flights like the ones they describe. I have the same perspective as Leaveil; if it's not your time, it's not your time. Maybe it's coming up later, but I hope not. (laughs)
Gentleman, you've been fantastic, and I've enjoyed going back down memory lane with the three of you. Thank you for sharing some nuggets of your personal life. Now, I would love to talk about your musical journey. How did you first discover your passion for music and understand your God-given gift?
Walter: When we were about five years old, my dad bought Scotty a set of drums for Christmas, and he bought me a saxophone. And from then on, we knew we wanted to be in music. We couldn't play then, but Scotty later learned to play the drums.
I was never that active on the saxophone, but because of my dad, we knew we would be involved in entertainment. My dad's goal was to ensure the world knew he had twin boys (Scotty and I) who would one day set the world on fire. I remember my father walking up to a guy when we were around three or five, tapping him on the shoulder, and saying, "You see those guys?" You're going to remember them. Believe me when I tell you, they're talented. From that point on, it was clear that we would be in the music business. This was before "The Whispers" or anything.
Scotty: As soon as we realized we could sing, and my father discovered we could sing, it was easy. From that point, he pushed us forward.
Leaveil: I learned about music in elementary school. I was in Glee clubs in grammar school, junior high school, and high school. But at that time, it was more fun for me. I never thought I would become a professional singer. It was like, what are the odds of that happening. To me, it just wasn't going to happen. It's like trying to become a professional baseball or football player.
Even though I aspired to be a Learjet pilot flying VIPs all around the world, you never know what God has planned for you. Though I got my "Commercial pilot license with instrument" and did fly professionally, God said no, this is what you're going to do. You're going to be an entertainer. So, that's what I did.
How did you meet the twins?
Leaveil: It was by chance that I met Scotty, and I was able to meet the group. And here it is 47/48 years later; I've been in the entertainment field as a performer, so I feel blessed.
As I still had a passion for flying, I sometimes flew professionally for someone after a gig, then returned to do shows. I went back and forth. Now that I'm in entertainment, it's my first love. I'm so blessed to be able to do what we do and get paid for it. If somebody wants my old behind on stage, at this point, you know like let's do it. (laughs)
Leaveil, was it ever a desire of yours to fly commercial airplanes?
Leaveil: No. Honestly, I started flying planes but didn't like it, so I switched to helicopters. Here in Vegas, I flew helicopters and did a lot of Grand Canyon tours. Afterward, I did EMS work, saving people from accidents and stuff like that.
I also did a lot of test flying for companies and test flying for a part of something that they wanted on it. I did not tell Walter and Scotty about that, but that is what I did. (laughs) Due to my love of helicopters, I've done quite a few different jobs in the professional helicopter world. I also enjoy flying planes, but helicopters intrigue me, so I chose that path.
Scotty: We've tried for years to get him out of it. We always felt like that was a huge risk for him. But, as he said, he loved it so much that he figured out that we were trying to get him out of it, and he stayed in it for years.
See, God had another plan for your life. That's awesome!
Scotty: That's correct.
Gentlemen, how did the whispers initially form, and how did you guys get together and get signed?
Walter: In the early 60s and Middle 60s, "Motown" was what every kid dreamed about. We wanted to be like the temptations, The Four Tops. So, it all started in the early 60s when Scotty and I were singing in a talent show. At that time, we went by the name "The Scott Twins." So, there was another group called "The Eden Trio," which consisted of three guys performing as a trio then. So, while we were waiting backstage to do our respective acts, all five of us began singing together, backstage.
So, we said to each other, "Hey man, after the talent show, maybe we need to put all this together and form a singing group like "The Temptations," and that's how it started for "The Whispers." And, of course, at that time, we weren't called, The Whispers," but that's how the group started. And that had to be in 1964.
Scotty: Yes. It was the early 60s.
At what point did Leaveil join the group?
Scotty: Well, when we first started, it was me and my brother, and we sang as a duet. Nicholas Caldwell, who we lost in 2016, and we just lost Gordy Harmon this year in 2023, were the ones singing as "The Trio," and we put that together.
Well. It turned out that Gordy had a bad car accident. He went through the windshield and messed up his larynx during that car accident. Therefore, we had to replace him, and that's how Leaveil became part of the group.
In those days, Leaveil and I were car buddies. I learned how to fix up certain cars from him since we were both car enthusiasts. On occasion, he would pick me up. Back then, I lived in Oakland, California, and he would pick me up now and then when I flew back and forth to LA.
So, once, he was singing while taking me to the airport to go home. It was a song by "The Delfonics" or "Smokey Robinson." I can't remember which one, but they both had a pretty falsetto. Then, Leaveil started singing with them, and I said, "Man, I didn't realize you had such a beautiful falsetto." He replied, "Well, yeah, you know."
At that time, we were looking for someone, so I went back and told the group, "Man, believe it or not, my buddy Leaveil's, you're not going to believe his falsetto! He's the guy that we're looking for. So that's how Leaveil came into the group.
To make a long story short, when we first brought him into the group, I welcomed him, but Nicholas Caldwell didn't. (laughs)
Nick was looking for one kind of guy, and I was looking for another. To me, Leaveil was the guy we were looking for. He was clean-cut, and at the time, he wore V-neck sweaters and did not drink or do drugs. So, I said, "That's what we need."
Nick wanted that too, but he felt like Leaveil wasn't the greatest mover. (laughs) He said, He looks good, but he can't dance.
Scotty: This story is a whole interview within itself. But, ultimately, that's how Leaveil came into the group. Then, Nick told me, "Man, I'll give him a shot, but first, I think we need a nationwide audition to bring in other people. And, if we can't find anybody, we'll give him a shot." And that's what we did. We went through the audition process, yet Leaveil still hung in there,
For a good year, he sang backstage without anybody seeing him working with Nicholas Caldwell, trying to convince him because Nick was like the choreographer. He told Leaveil that he couldn't be in the group if he couldn't learn the routines.
Walter: Yes, he sang for one year behind the stage. They heard his voice, but they never saw him. But Nick finally reached the point where he felt good about Leaveil being in the group. That's when we told Leaveil he was officially in "The Whispers."
That's a funny story! Leaveil, do you want to defend yourself? (Laughs)
Leaveil: What was crazy was that he said I couldn't dance but could do all the colloquial stuff.
Walter: Right, he couldn't do his routine.
Leaveil: Right. If you talked to Eddie LeVert or any other group that's seen us perform or do our choreography, they would say to us, "What are you listening to or how are you doing what you're doing" because Nick would hear a drum line, a cymbal, or a horn line and he would put a routine to that. So, it was crazy, and it was difficult because it was like learning a new language through dancing. And that's the best way I could put it. It's like trying to go from English to French. Although it took a while, I eventually succeeded. In Nicholas' head, he had something that worked out, making us one of the most respected choreography groups today.
What a remarkable story of determination. As you said, Leaveil, I also agree. "The Whispers" are one of the smoothest and most polished groups from a choreographic and vocal perspective. Thank you, gentlemen, for sharing your stories.
Scotty: That's an interesting story. When you've been singing as long as we have and telling these stories, many people will say, "You've got to be kidding. Is that real? But yes, it happened.".
We went to audition at a little record company called Dore Records because we were trying to get a deal with them. We auditioned for Lou Bedell, the owner of the label. After we sang for him, he said, "Man, you guys got a great sound! Your sound is soft, like a whisper. Why don't we call you "The Whispers." So Nick said, "Listen, if you give us this deal, you can call us anything you like." That's how the name "The Whispers" came about. (laughs)
Walter: Yeah, that's for real.
That's awesome. Now, did Nicholas Caldwell choreograph all of your routines?
Leaveil: Yes, that's the person I had to get by because Nick was the group's choreographer, and he had a certain expectation from when you walked out to when you left the stage; everything was choreographed.
Even the way we walked out on the stage was choreographed. Pivoting, bowing, and even how we stood in the negative time when nothing was going on, Nicholas was a catalyst for what you see today. Everything that goes on while on stage was him. Sometimes you wanted to choke him, but he demanded perfection, and I understand why.
The Whispers: (laughs)
Leaveil: We were well known for our choreography, how smooth it was, and the creativity of it. He created some ridiculous awesome routines for our music, and we still miss him today because he was the anchor of the group.
Walter: No question. Yes, he was the anchor of the group.
He sounds like such a wonderful man! I sincerely thank you for sharing this loving memory of your group brother with us. Who designed the costumes you wear on stage, gentlemen?
Walter: Over time, our wardrobe evolved. This is funny. I'll put it like this; we must have worn every kind of outfit that you could name. (laughs)
We started in tuxedos like everybody else in the 60s. We wore burgundy tuxedos, black tuxedos, and white tuxedos with a bow tie. You're too young, but that was the look of "The Temptations." We were mimicking them and, in a way, trying to imitate those we thought were at the top of the mountain. At that time, if you were from Motown and were The Temptations, The Four Tops, or The Dramatics, that's who we wanted to be like. So, our wardrobe reflected that.
Leaveil: We tried to wear platform shoes, but it never worked with dancers. That was crazy because we dang near broke our ankles doing that kind of thing. (Laughs) Then we got smart and hired a young lady named Ronnie. To me, women know what they want to see. She would say, "This is what women want to see." So, she dressed us and created a lot of outfits for us. She even dressed us for many of our album covers. And that was the turning point in what you see today.
Normally, we would all wear the same thing, and it didn't always compliment everyone's body frame the same, so she would say," Scotty, you're wearing this, Walter, you're wearing this; I want Nicholas to wear this, and I want Leaveil and Marcus to wear this. The color coordination was just incredible.
So, some of the things that she put us in, I would have never worn, but when you get compliments from women saying, "That's some bad stuff," and then your wife tells you that the album cover was on fire, it's a good thing. She dressed us for those things too. In retrospect, I think, "Wow, she did a fantastic job!"
She did an excellent job. Gentlemen, what was your favorite album cover out of all of them?
Scotty: My favorite album was more about the song than it was about the cover. While we were dressed casually on the album cover, the song off of that album, "And The Beat Goes On," was the album that changed our lives. That album was called "The Whispers," and that's what I remember. Rather than what I had on, I remember what that album did for us. I love that album for that reason. Whatever we had on that day was the greatest outfit because the day after that, our lives completely changed.
Walter: Yes, "And The Beat Goes On" changed everything.
Leaveil: For me, there was an album cover where we were all standing in a row, and we all wore black, but we had on different outfits.
Walter: Yes, that was my favorite album as well. 'The Whispers - Songs of Babyface' was the album's name. It's a good album cover because we all wore different suits, but it was all tailored to each individual. It helped to highlight each individual's unique personality. That's why like Leaveil, I like that album cover so well.
The people who did my hair had a hard time because they wanted to make it flat on one side and then lift it upward on the other. I didn't like it because it reminded me of the hairstyle young Bobby Brown of "New Edition" wore. It wasn't me. When I look at that photo today, I can clearly see what they were trying to accomplish, which shows you that if you have less ego and let someone else see you from the outside, sometimes they can do a better job than you do. This is a prime example of that.
That's right. Gentlemen, your songs are all great. When I was growing up, I enjoyed many of your songs. Because I was too young to listen to adult music, I had to sneak and listen to it on the radio. Back then, young people had a place, and that place wasn't in grown-up business. Our parents expected us to respect our elders and stay in a child's place, but we got away with a few things on the sly.
One of them was listening to grown folk music." The Whispers had a song I loved called, The Mood," and man, did I love it! I had to listen to this one secretly since I was not allowed to listen to it. Even so, I played it repeatedly. "Olivia, Lost and Turned Out" was another of my favorite songs. It wasn't until I got older that I realized how deep and powerful the lyrics were. What prompted you to write about this particular subject matter, and who wrote it? I found it a phenomenal song with a deep and powerful message.
Walter: Well, Olivia is actually a true story. The two guys that wrote the song were Olivia's uncles, Wayne and Malcolm Bell.
This song was written about their niece, who hung out in the streets, got picked up by a pimp, and became a prostitute. And her two uncles and their family were trying to get her off the streets. So, that song was about their niece, who was lost and turned out.
So we recorded the song. As you said, it was deep, but it was a song in keeping with what we wanted to do at that time. As a group, we've had the luxury of doing a lot of message-oriented songs, and Olivia was a great one to use to convey an important message to young girls: don't let the same thing happen to you.
But anyway, they happen to be the cousins of the man that owned "Solar Records," and they submitted this song about their niece Olivia.
They submitted it by sitting at the piano and singing the song to "The Whispers," which blew our minds. Little did we know in recording it that it would become one of the biggest songs never released as a single; it was just on the album. You're right; even today, Fifty years later, we cannot do a concert without singing "Olivia, Lost and Turned Out."
I appreciate you sharing the back story of that song. Have you ever heard women say, "Thank you so much for singing that song; it touched me or saved my life?"
Walter: Yes, many women. It's incredible. There have even been instances when women have attended our shows and told us how much that song touched them. Now that we have e-mail, one lady talked about how that song helped her niece get off the streets and that she was once on the streets as well. It's gratifying to hear that. It's great to see Olivia do so well with "The Whispers" because it has a powerful message.
Even today, young women are still being entrapped by men who know more than they do. And hey, Olivia, if we can play a part in helping you escape it, we're glad to do it.
And my heart goes out to all the Olivia's' of the world too. May God provide an avenue of escape and the loving arms of compassionate, caring, and honest people to run to. It's so good to hear of the big, beautiful heart of The Whispers." Men, your hit single "Rock Steady" rose to number #1 in the R&B charts and became the first top 10 success on the "Hot 100," reaching #7. What is the story behind that song?
Walter: Well, that brings Babyface into the mix. That was La Reid and Kenny Edmonds before they were known as "Face" in LA. But they submitted the song to us. We were in the studio with them finishing our song, "In The Mood." And when we finished it, we told LA Reid and Face that we needed another hit like "And The Beat Goes On," which was a big song for us.
Leaveil: Yeah, we had just finished "In The Mood, "and the song came out so great I was like, why not go and say, "Hey guys, can you come up with an up-tempo song? We need another up-tempo because "And The Beat" was a mega-hit for us. It was our first up-tempo mega-hit. That album itself went double platinum. But, I asked "Face" if he and "LA" could come up with that, and he told me, "Oh yeah, no problem, we'll be back tomorrow with it. Then I told the group they said they would come up with a hit by the following day. To me, I thought that was some serious ego. (laughs) But, just like they said, the next day, they came back with "Rock Steady."
Walter: That was the very next night.
Leaveil: Yeah, and we were blown away. They did a couple of other songs that we didn't end up doing called "Rose Are Red "and "Two Occasions."
Walter: And, what was amazing is that these two young guys came back the next night with this big hit, "Rock Steady," and "And The Beat Goes On" was even bigger than "Rock Steady. We laughed and said, Man, they've got some ego thinking they'll come back tomorrow night with something that big. Well, that tomorrow night came, and they came back with that hit! Oh, yes, they did! (laughs)
Crazy enough, "Rock Steady" was not the biggest hit because it was a million 6, but "And The Beat Goes On" was a legitimate 22 million seller. So, other than, And The Beat, Rock Steady was the biggest up-temple song we ever had, and LA Reid and Babyface wrote it.
That's awesome! Yes, LA Reid and Babyface are incredible writers. Can you tell me about black tie Records? Do you still own that label?
Walter: No, but it was a dream of ours. We went to Capitol Records, and as part of the deal, we insisted on creating a production company to get new talent. So, we found a young group, went into the studio with them, and formed Black Tie Records. Amid that, Capital Records closed the entire black music department.
Walter: Yeah, so it never really got off the ground. We had dreams that it would be a success because we thought that we could go and recreate a new young version of The Whispers, which is what we were in the process of doing, but unfortunately, it went above our heads. That's the way corporations work. Black Tie was eliminated when that happened.
Are you planning to have another label in the future?
Walter: We went further and ended up signing with another company. Still, from then on, we never had another production company because today's distribution situation makes that impossible. So, the idea of it went out with that.
Scotty: For that reason, I'm thankful for you allowing us to talk about where we are today and our plans to redo our catalog.
That's exciting Scotty! Please tell me more about that.
Scotty: We're having to redo our catalog because back in the day, not only The Whispers but other groups of our era like The O Jays, The Manhattans, and other groups of the sort, we weren't really treated that fairly and we didn't have the greatest deals either. But, thanks to God, we've lived long enough to remake some of our previously released songs like Olivia, Lost and Turned Out, and others.
Some people might think, why are we doing this? It's because we want to reap some of the benefits that should have been collected long ago, but better late than never. In other words, we can now redo our music; only we will own it this time.
As an added benefit, it will allow you to release songs unreleased by the record label that you believe would be successful but were not released by the label, so it would be good to hear them. Now you can tell your own stories.
Walter: Yes, you're right, because people have requested songs they heard on the album but not on the radio. Therefore, we can rerecord and now own it, and they will have the privilege of buying it from us, not the record company that originally owned it.
Are you still affiliated with "Interscope Records?"
Walter: No, Interscope Records was a Capital Records situation, and we're no longer affiliated with them. Furthermore, Interscope went on to focus more on rap music. We were signed to Capitol Records then, and they were intertwined with Interscope.
Again, we were under an umbrella where we needed more attention. The ownership wasn't ours. But we're no longer affiliated with that at all. We now do our own thing; we own our music, and nobody can tell us what to do but us. That's a great feeling.
I love it! Ownership is a great feeling, and so is helping others. Gentlemen, also, you support a few charities related to cancer and domestic violence. I would love to hear about your charitable work and why you are passionate about these charities.
Walter: Because I'm a victim of prostate cancer, we started what we call "The Whispers Cancer Fund." We wanted black men, in particular, to get checked. When we do our shows, we tell black men to get checked because, for some reason, in our culture, black men are even hesitant to go and get a physical.
Therefore, we want to bring awareness to this issue through every performance we give. As someone affected by cancer himself, Leaveil is at the forefront. Another issue we care deeply about is domestic violence. It was Nicholas Caldwell, who we discussed earlier, who instilled respect for women in us early on.
Therefore, we always tell men and women, "This is my mother, sister, or daughter." We want women to be respected at all times. So, we have been very active when it comes to pushing women's issues. Very much so.
Leaveil: He's right about that. For Walter and me, the biggest shock was finding out we had prostate cancer. We have lost a couple of members of our organization to the same disease.
We lost our musical director. As a result of not going to the doctor, his prostate cancer spread to other organs. So, it happens, but we wanted men to be aware of it and not be afraid of it. Even with breast cancer, I had a lump in my chest, and I did not realize men can also be affected by chest cancer. There is a misconception that men can't get breast cancer because they don't have breasts.
Thankfully, I did not have breast cancer, chest cancer, or whatever you want to call it. However, we promote breast cancer awareness among women. Whenever I discuss these issues, I share my experience and mention my encounter with them clamping my stuff into that machine. I understand because I experienced it. When someone tells you that you have cancer, you blank out. After they told me, I don't know what happened. I didn't hear it. All I heard was cancer, and I didn't hear anything else after that period. So, cancer is an issue that has become dear to us because it has personally affected us and those we love.
So now we're trying to encourage men to stop being so macho and do what they must do because it can save their life. And I still argue with men. They're like, "Man, I'm not gay." When they say that, I tell them, what's gay got to do it? Then they say, "Well, they want to do that prostate exam." Then I tell them, "Dude, it's not about "gay" it's about saving your life. Do you want to be here?" So, I've convinced a lot of men to go and have their PSA levels checked and get and get their exams done because it can be the very thing that will save their lives. And if we can save one life, it's worth it.
Yes, that's awesome. I think you guys need to get a bus, go around in the hood, pull up to them, open the bus door, and say, "Get in!" Then take all of them to the doctor. They had the million-man march. Now they need to have the million-man doctor visit. Well said, gentlemen.
Walter: That's right. (laughs)
Right on! Gentlemen, you have achieved a great deal over the years. What are some of your most outstanding career achievements? Please share them with our readers.
Walter: Thank you, and you're right. The most recent achievement was Vice President Kamala Harris's recommendation for the presidential award, which took us by storm. We've been around for 50 years, five guys from Watts, California. We never dreamed that we'd get awards and be Grammy nominated.
Also, we were nominated and elected to the "Vocal Group Hall of Fame." That meant a great deal to us. So, we feel fortunate. Back when, if anyone had told us that this would be our story and that we would be in this business still doing what we have done for 50 years, we would have laughed and said they were crazy. But amid all of this, we've gotten these awards, and it speaks to us from our fans; we like what you do, which means everything to us.
I always will remember when we first got the first hit, we would almost get there, but it wouldn't quite be 1/2 a million. But when they told us that we had a gold record, which was for real, Oh man! That's like your audience saying, hey, we got y'all, and y'all are all right with us! But it's a great feeling.
Bravo! Your award-winning accomplishments certainly deserve all the recognition you've been receiving. Congratulations again. The Whispers have been on some hit movies' soundtracks, including Tyler Perry's "Diary Mad Black Woman, Collision Course, and Waiting to Exhale." Do you plan to act in any future films or television drama series?
Scotty: Firstly, redoing our catalog is our "chief" business. Now, to the answer to your question, the answer is yes. We would love to be involved in many of these black corporations that do movies, videos, or commercials. You can now come to "The Whispers" instead of going to the record company. We are open to new opportunities, most defiantly. All those things you just mentioned, if there is an opportunity for "The Whispers," Bring it!
Walter: Yes, and let me add this. When we did the song on the "Waiting To Exhale."
soundtrack, "I'm Going To Make You My Wife," Tyler Perry let us know that instead of going to the company that owns that music, by owning our music, he could now come directly to "The Whispers."
So yes, we want to do many more musical things in the future because now the ownership belongs to us. Young black entrepreneurs are doing great things in the movies these days, and we want to be a part of it.
Absolutely, and I'm sure you will do a fantastic job at anything you do because that's how you gentleman roll. So, what's next? Do you have any tours coming up or anything you want to share further?
Walter: Well, it's simple. At the moment, we are dedicated big time to recording our catalog. We're touring, of course. We tour every year, but in the midst of that, we're incredibly active in getting as much of this done as possible because, as you said earlier, we want to be available when there's a motion picture with music in it.
We want you to be able to come directly to The Whispers and negotiate with them directly. So that's what we're doing now other than touring. We do have a touring schedule that we do every year. We're out there doing it. We thank God that our fans still love us, and, amazingly, we are still here doing what we love doing after 50. So again, the most important thing for us right now is rerecording our catalog.
Awesome! Yeah, we can't wait to get more music. You guys are one of the finest musical groups I have ever heard. Nobody does it like "The Whispers." Everybody had a unique sound back then, and the singer was instantly recognizable. I watched pigeons flying around once and asked my husband, "How often do we pay attention to pigeons? Many of them fly around everywhere, yet nobody pays attention to them. Despite seeing them often, we ignore them since they are familiar.
In contrast, when a bird of prey swoops down, everyone faces that bird in awe as their eyes gaze up at it. The Whispers are eagles. Because of this, your music has retained its value over the years. Sight unseen, everyone recognizes your voice right away.
The Whispers: That's right.
Therefore, if this is the case, why do so many people spend their lives trying to be pigeons, carbon copies of each other?
Most of the entertainment industry is looking for another carbon copy today. I'm incredibly proud of you, "The Whispers," for continuing the path of your uniqueness but now with ownership and freedom.
You are doing a fantastic job as you do it with class, genuine talent, uniqueness, and respect for women. Hence, you must remain here to show them how to do it correctly because both young women and men need our guidance, those of us who are mature and experienced.
To conclude, I'd like to hear from each of you a piece of wisdom or something you've learned that is inspirational for new artists.
Scotty: That's a great question, but before I answer it, I want to speak for all three of us and thank you for giving us your platform to talk about what we're doing and that we're still here. We do appreciate that.
Thank you for sharing your stories, and it's my pleasure.
Scotty: My advice to young people is this. I remember myself as a younger person. Being a dreamer was my biggest problem, but I'm glad I was and kept dreaming. So, to young people, when it gets boring, and you think you don't want to do it, don't quit. Follow your dreams and keep them. That's what happened with, The Whispers. I wouldn't have believed it if anybody had told me I'd be singing for 56 years. But because I dreamed of it as a kid, it happened.
Walter: I would say, never let anyone discourage you, and don't give up. I remember our parents saying to us around 1978/ 1979 but defiantly before 1980. My mom said, "You know what? "Yawl gotta get some jobs with some benefits because I don't know if this is working."
Walter: But we all believed very strongly, and Nicholas Caldwell was a big part of it. We felt in our hearts that we would get a hit record one day. Many young people have difficulty concentrating, but don't let anybody discourage you if you're serious and want to go for it. You can do it because we're prime examples.
I always say this to my grandson so that I will say the same thing to young people. We sang 11 years before we had our first hit.
We could have easily said, "It's been ten years; let's forget this, but we believed strongly in our dream. So, I say to young people, never let anybody discourage you. If you're serious, do whatever you think you can do.
That's right. Leaveil?
Leaveil: That's one of the things I touch on when we talk to other people, and you touched on it well. The clones are everybody who looks the same, right? So you don't want to be a clone. You want to be the one people say, "Wow, that person, that group, or this single artist is so different. I like his music."
You're right; it seems like everyone today wants to be Beyoncé, Jay-Z, or whatever. They try to emulate them, but Jay-Z already exists, so why do they need another one? Be your own individual; as you said, every group from that era had its own distinctive sound—Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Whispers, The Temptations, The Four Tops, etc.
Secondly, this is called show business, and many artists these days don't pay attention to the business side, only to the show side. So, ensure your business is right because it will give you longevity in the long run. That's your retirement plan.
It is also extremely important to consider what you do with your money and how you invest it. Don't be thinking about these dog-on chains and Rolex watches. Own something, buy something, and do something worthwhile with your money because you will still have access to that Rolex, Ferrari, Lambeau, or whatever you want, but you will own it and enjoy it for the rest of your life because now you have invested in something.
So put things in order so you will always have money coming in. I believe in my soul, and The Whispers hear me say this all the time, "There will never be 40/50-year-old groups in the business ever again. It just won't happen because everybody is trying to be a clone of one another. You'll get a good five years of popularity tops which is great because they make millions of dollars now.
Not like us. Because we were in the chitlin circuit for many years, we didn't have the tools to make the kind of money they can make today. But, when you can make that kind of money, do the right thing with it because it won't last forever.
I prefer listening to the type of songs you sing above what I hear today. Those are the songs that connect with my heart the most. They have substance and meaning. These songs trigger memories of weddings, civil unrest, falling in love for the first time, or leaving a toxic relationship.
When trying to convey your deepest feelings to someone, you often had to use your songs and similar music to encourage them to pay attention to your heart's cry. Groups like . "The Whispers and others of the sort, helped us say what we sometimes lacked the courage to say. The only thing we had to do was play an album. Then they understood exactly how we felt. Today, many of the songs promoted in mainstream media lack that trait. Many songs contain hate, anger, rage, discontentment, disrespect for women, and the rest; I do not even understand what they are saying.
The second thing is that you sound the same on record as you do live. Many of today's live shows have lost much of that art. This is why "The Whispers" music, like blue jeans, will remain fashionable.
Walter: I'm laughing because you put that so well. Glad you said it.
Well, this is how you would have said it back in the day, "Show you right," and "Right on!"
Gentlemen, it has been a pleasure to speak with you. It is an honor to talk with living legends, and I am so grateful for what you guys have done in this industry and what you have accomplished. You have laid the foundation for so many young aspiring artists to walk on today. You have worked hard to make your careers what they are, and I congratulate you on all your achievements.
I am also grateful to hear how God healed you, Walter, and Leaveil, from cancer and what the group's doing to bring awareness to that horrible disease and domestic violence. I pray that God will continue to bless you and bless the works of your hands according to His will. I pray that God will bless your travels and keep you and your beautiful families safe. I'm so proud of you. This has been an honor.
The Whispers: Thank you
It's my pleasure
The Whispers: Take care.
All right. Bye.
End of Interview
Photos credits for the Whispers: in Orange - Photo by Tyler Scott, In bLack and red - B & A Entertainment, In Street close with Leaveil in sun glasses - Just4love Photos, In BLue - Celestial Studios
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Disclaimer: The words of inspiration posted by The Indie Post, written within ( The New American Standard Version Bible Verse) are not the words of the above interviewed. "John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him." "Romans 10:9-13 9 [f]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, [g]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [h]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE [i]PUT TO SHAME.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”