The Fifth Dimension gives uplifting musical aspects to the world
What: The Fifth Dimension
When: 8 p.m. on Dec. 26-Jan. 31
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
As the sole original member of the Fifth Dimension, lead vocalist Florence LaRue takes her musical responsibility seriously.
The singer makes sure the group, which will start a six-night run on Dec. 26 at the Egyptian Theatre, performs the songs as they were recorded.
“We use the very same arrangements, so when people come to see us, they won’t hear these songs in a medley,” LaRue said. “Our audiences like that because these songs are part of their memories.”
LaRue promised the group’s hits “Up, Up and Away,” “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In” and “One Less Bell to Answer” will be featured during the concerts. And one of the biggest reasons they will be is because of the current lineup that includes Patrice Morris, Floyd Smith, Leonard Tucker and Sidney Jacobs.
“Most of them have been in the band for at least 15 years or more,” LaRue said. “I am just proud that I have people with me to carry on the Fifth Dimension tradition.”
LaRue also cited the backup band, featuring bassist J.V. Collier and drummer Miles Robinson, who are led by music director Ron Feuer, a former music director for “America’s Got Talent,” as another reason the songs sound fresh as they did back in the 1960s and 1970s.
“Ron is fabulous, and he not only conducts when we play our own concerts,” she said. “He also conducts when we perform with symphony orchestras. So he is as well-rounded as you can get.”
LaRue is also proud that these artists can carry on the Fifth Dimension’s moral tradition.
“We used to be called ‘square,’ because we were a clean-cut group,” she said. “We continue that today, so people can bring their children and other family members.”
Sticking to their morals isn’t a challenge for the band members, LaRue said.
“The reason is because we don’t pretend we’re something we’re not,” she said. “Of course, we’re not angels, but we are really just being ourselves when it comes to clean living. I feel there is a responsibility as an entertainer and a senior to lift people up and be an example.”
That responsibility carries into when LaRue needs to choose replacement members for the group.
“They have to be people who I would be proud to show as role models,” she said.
The foundation of the group’s “sunshine pop” was built by its original manager, Marc Gordon.
“Marc was a genius in wanting us to stretch out to do all kinds of music,” LaRue said. “When we started the Motown sound was big, and there weren’t many African-American groups that would perform styles other than R&B. But Marc introduced us to many wonderful songwriters, producers and arrangers.”
Some of those songwriters included multi-Grammy winner Burt Bacharach, the husband and wife team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Songwriter Hall of Fame inductees Hal David and Laura Nyro.
As for producers, LaRue said she was especially grateful to Bones Howe.
“Bones would bring in boxes of songs, and if we liked them, we would record them,” LaRue said.
LaRue wouldn’t just listen to the melodies. She would also listen to the words.
“I’m very aware of the lyrics we sing,” she said. “When I first heard ‘Aquarius’ I wanted to do it because it was about peace, understanding and hope. It was not about astrology, which some people thought it was about.”
LaRue feels the world needs more songs like “Aquarius.”
“Our world is very dark and our country is divided,” she said. “We as concerned citizens, don’t hide our heads in the sand. We want to let people know there is hope, happiness and good people out there. I like to say we are a light in the darkness, and we want people to come to our show and be lifted up and enjoy a night of fun and music.”
While Fifth Dimension music can uplift audiences, LaRue said the audiences are what motivates her to continue singing and touring.
“When I go up and sing ‘Up, Up and Away’ I see people smiling, and after the show they come up to me and tell me I need to keep doing this,” she said. “It’s funny, because we’ll see these younger people in the audience slumped down in their chairs because mom or dad brought them. But at the end of the show, they will come and tell us how much they liked us and how surprised they were to know some of the songs.”
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