RESERVOIR ACQUIRES THE HISTORIC SOUL CATALOGS OF SOUL LEGENDS WILLIE MITCHELL, LEON WARE, NORMAN HARRIS, AND THE COMMODORES’ THOMAS MCCLARY AND WALTER ORANGE
Reservoir announces the acquisitions of the historic catalogs of soul legends Willie Mitchell, Leon Ware, Norman Harris, and the Commodores’ Walter Orange and Thomas McClary. Collectively, the five deals bring over 1,000 genre defining songs to Reservoir’s diverse and expanding catalog.
Willie Mitchell was credited with creating legendary recording artist Al Green’s signature sound and was integral in developing the distinctive ‘Memphis Soul’ sound. In addition to producing eternal hits, such as Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still In Love With You,” Mitchell wrote and produced for Memphis mainstays Solomon Burke, Ann Peebles, and Syl Johnson, among others. His instantly recognizable works feature prominent horns, soft strummed guitars, and a hard-hitting drum beat. Seeking the famous Memphis sound, artists including Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, and Tom Jones traveled from all over the world to collaborate and record with Mitchell at his illustrious Royal Studios.
A renowned soul and R&B writer-producer, Leon Ware was best known for his musical and lyrical sensuality. His long list of credits as a songwriter and producer include some of the biggest songs and albums in the world, including Marvin Gaye’s acclaimed album, I Want You, Michael Jackson’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” The Isley Brothers’ “Got To Have You Back,” Minnie Ripperton’s “Inside My Love,” Quincy Jones’ “If I Ever Leave This Heaven,” and Maxwell’s “Sumthin’ Sumthin’.” Ware’s songs have also been widely sampled in contemporary hip-hop, with artists like Jay-Z, Ice Cube, Tupac, and A Tribe Called Quest, among those that have utilized his works. In addition to writing and producing for others, Ware was an accomplished singer and performer in his own right, having released eleven studio albums in his decades-long career.
A pioneer of the Philly Soul movement, Norman Harris collaborated with soul and disco artists of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s including The Trampps, The Four Tops, The Temptations, First Choice, Loletta Holloway, Curtis Mayfield, and Blue Magic, among many others. As an acclaimed guitarist, producer, arranger, and songwriter, Harris was also founding member of Philadelphia soul band MFSB and the record production trio Baker-Harris-Young. His works have been sampled by some of the biggest contemporary artists in the world including 50 Cent, The Game, Whitney Houston, Jeezy, R. Kelly, Nas, Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige.
Guitarist Thomas McClary co-founded the Commodores after meeting Lionel Ritchie at college in 1968, and a year later, Walter Orange joined as the band’s drummer. Together, the Commodores became one of the biggest music groups in the world earning nine Grammy Award nominations, and picking up the award for best R&B Vocal Performance for their single “Nightshift” in 1986. As part of the Commodores, McClary and Orange co-wrote songs that contributed to six #1 albums on Billboard’s R&B charts, plus the release of some of the most timeless songs of all time, including “Brick House,” which also featured lead vocals by Orange.
“The opportunity to build upon the legacies of genre defining music is rare and thrilling,” said Reservoir SVP of A&R and Catalog Development Faith Newman, who lead the company’s initiative to pursue these historic American catalogs. “When I connected with Willie Mitchell’s son, Boo, and Norman Harris’ son, Dorian, as well as with representatives for Leon, Thomas, and Walter, I let them know that it is important to Reservoir to ensure that historic catalogs continue to inspire new generations. As a Philadelphia native, soul music runs through my veins and I am very passionate about seeking out the gems in this often-underappreciated genre of music.”
Newman further adds, “Our licensing teams in Los Angeles, New York, and London will pursue new opportunities for syncs, samples, and lyric reproductions, so that these works will continue to live on for years to come. Reservoir has already licensed the Commodores’ ‘Night Shift’ in a major ad campaign for African telecommunications company MTN and watching new audiences discover this music is amazing.”