CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 25: Frankie Beverly performs during day 2 of the Cincinnati Music Festival at Paul Brown Stadium on July 25, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)
They’ve been consistent headliners and enormously popular since the mid-70s, but while many of their contemporaries have faded or disappeared from the scene, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly are still heavily in demand. Indeed longtime lead singer Beverly says things couldn’t be going better these days.
“It’s unbelievable to me,” Beverly said last week during a phone interview. “We’re busier now than ever. I’m grateful and I’m thankful. If you had ever told me way back when we started that after all this time we’d still be touring and doing festivals and making appearances all over the country and the world I would have said you were crazy.”
But that’s most definitely the case, and Maze has shown its possible to be contemporary, tweak and evolve your sound over decades, yet never lose the key qualities that initially brought you fame They remain among the few bands able to be equally powerful doing hard-driving funk and sensual, passionate soul, thanks to Beverly’s formidable voice and performance skills. Their long list of hits began in 1976, when their debut LP “Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly” yielded the hits “Lady of Magic” and “Workin’ Together.”
From there a long running string of hit LPs and singles continued through the 80s and 90s, among them the LPs “Golden Time Of Day,” “Inspiration,” and “Joy and Pain.” When asked if he has any favorites among the list that also includes “We Are One” and “Can’t Stop The Love,” Beverly responds this way.
“There are two that have really surprised me in terms of popularity. “Happy Feelin’s” and “Joy and Pain.” Those two really seem to still resonate all these years later.” Beverly attributes growing up in Philadelphia as a key influence in his style and approach. “I heard so much great music there, and really got a lesson in everything from stage performance to vocal technique. You couldn’t grow up in that environment and not soak it up and learn.”
After relocating to California and for a time serving as Marvin Gaye’s backup band (he suggested they change their name from Raw Soul to Maze) they branched off on their own for one of the great careers in Black music, one that continues to this day. They’ve also played a big role in helping break other artists, among them Toni Braxton, Regina Belle and Anita Baker, all of whom served as opening acts for Maze early in their careers.
A 20-track two-CD recording titled “Anthology” is available for any latecomer to their music. They’re also 2010 Trumpet Lifetime Achievement and 2012 BET Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award winners. ‘We’re just going to continue riding that wave,” Beverly concludes when asked about future goals. “We’re just so happy to still be out here, and believe it or not, I still love doing this, love performing and being out front as long as people continue to enjoy what we do.