The Recording Academy Philadelphia Chapter, in conjunction with Temple University's School of Communications and Theater, recently hosted Up Close & Personal With John Oates, a GRAMMY Professional Development Event, at the Temple Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia.
Before an intimate audience, the GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter participated in an interview-style conversation with WXPN radio personality Gene Shay, discussing topics such as his songwriting process, new technology, tips for breaking into the music industry, independent labels, musical influences, and more. Following the discussion, Oates performed a brief acoustic set, including songs from his latest solo project, Mississippi Mile.
"I am old school at heart but I embrace all of the new technology," said Oates about the prevalence of new recording technology today. "It's fantastic when you're editing and for all the hard work of really crafting the production of a record. There's nothing like it. But in the end, it comes down to songwriting, singing [and] playing, and that's what it's all about."
Oates met his musical partner Daryl Hall in 1967 while attending Temple University. The two musicians shared a love for rock and roll and soul music and eventually joined forces as Hall And Oates, releasing their debut album in 1972. They broke through four years later with two Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, "Sara Smile" and "She's Gone." In 1977 Hall And Oates scored their first No. 1 hit, "Rich Girl," and from 1981–1984 the duo logged a string of five more No. 1 hits: "Kiss On My List," "Private Eyes," "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," "Maneater," and "Out Of Touch."
By 1984 Hall And Oates had earned 19 gold and platinum awards, leading the RIAA to declare they had surpassed the Everly Brothers as the most successful duo in rock history. Released in 2004, Hall And Oates' most recent studio album, Our Kind Of Soul, features the duo's take on classic soul songs by the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, the O'Jays, and Barry White, among others. In 2008 they released Live At The Troubadour, commemorating the 35th anniversary of their first concert at the popular Los Angeles venue. The album spawned Hall And Oates' most recent GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for "Sara Smile."
Stepping outside the Hall And Oates umbrella, Oates released his first solo album, Phunk Shui (pronounced Funk Schway), in 2002. Mississippi Mile, his latest solo album, was released in April. The album features original songs and a new recording of Hall And Oates' "You Make My Dreams Come True," but predominantly pays tribute to Oates' blues, folk and R&B influences, with covers of songs by Chuck Berry, Mississippi John Hurt, Curtis Mayfield, and Elvis Presley, among others.