In 2004 This singer-songwriter-producer received Grammy honors for a collaboration with Keb' Mo' entiltled “Closer” which appears on the album “Keep It Simple”by Keb' Mo' which won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues album.
The musical journey for LaRombé began in the "City Of Brotherly Love" Philadelphia. and continues today in “The City of Angels” Los Angeles. With a jazz drummin dad and a baritone singing grandfather, it wasn’t long before he found himselt following in those footsteps. Influenced by everyone from Ray Charles to Motown and of course “The Sound of Philadelphia” he incorporates those styles into his own "Phila-Fornia Soul” based on his Philly roots and his current home base of L.A.
After having local success as lead singer for "The Superbs," LaRombé went solo performing on the east coast with Philly fav "Natural Experience". He next hosted a number one radio show at WAUP fm but opted out to pursue his dream of not just playing but “making" music. He headed west to L.A. where he put together “Taste Of Paradise” a group that many say were pioneers of the contemporary inspirational movement. His songs garnered attention from Motown producer Frank Wilson who jump-started his songwriting career by producing his first song with popular R&B group New Birth followed by projects for artist like Lenny Williams & Smokey Robinson .
Then this Philadelphian came to the attention of a certain Chicagoan by the name of Curtis Mayfield who signed him to his Curtom record label after one his executives literally picked his demo out of the trash.
Next came the formation of his own publishing and production company, LoveLyte Musique, which has produced solo album projects, music for TV/film, jingles etc, but whose primary focus has been artist development, writing and producing for up and coming artist. He’s done R&B, pop, hip-hop, contemporary blues and Nashville.
After surviving a near fatal automobile accident, LaRombé decided to make the most of his 2nd chance and finally put together a collection of his works which resulted in the independent album release “Cozmic Soul” followed by “PhilaFornia Soul” and the critically acclaimed single “The Ultimate” and 2018's "Bunnys Boy",
LaRombé can be seen performing locally and continues to work with artist on various projects such as the "What A Shame" project which highlighted the police shootings of Trayvon Martin and so many more.
He has also served as R&B coordinator for Songnet Soul, an L.A. based songwriting organization and does creative consulting. He also has stage and screen acting experience and is a former writer for the Los Angeles Times company paper.
My Musical Journey ♪ (in my own words)
The Genesis (planting the seeds of Soul)
when I was a kid, there were many mornings when I woke up and found that the 9 volt battery that powered the transistor radio that was under my pillow, did not survive the night.
Before we moved out of North Phillys Richard Allen Projects, I used to fall asleep listening to music from the jukebox in the bar across the street, but at this new place there was no 12th street bar so I would take my transistor to bed with me and the next day have to buy a new battery.
My mother Mary had these old 78 records that were hard plastic. If one slipped out your hand, you might as well grab your keys and head for the store cause once it hits the floor, at the very least its gonna crack and at the very most –shatter. On Friday nights instead of TV, we’d listen to those tunes while we ate Tastycakes.(Butterscotch Krimpets/chocolate juniors/blueberry pie) with our cow juice.
My favorite songs was by Ray Charles called “I Want A Little Girl” It was on the B side of his hit “I Got A Woman” Even tho I was too young to "want" a gir, somehow that sentiment really touched me. Little did I know just how much that soulful singin style would influence me.
We lived close to the legendary Uptown Theatre and my Mom took me to my first of many many concerts there. The Uptown became like college for me. I got to experience the best of the best. Every act who performed at the Apollo in N.Y. came to The Uptown. Even tho I had never envisioned myself as an entertainer, somethin in me knew I could do what they were doin on that stage. I think my father knew it also but he never pushed it on me. He was a jazz drummer by the name of Bunny “The Beat” Baker. He lived in West Philly near Fairmont Park and used to hang out with the cool cats like Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. He also taught himself how to play some guitar and when the band was hangin out at his crib, he’d play some songs he taught me to sing and showed me off, much to my chagrin. At that time all I had on my mind was baseball but as time moved on, my Dads musical genes and maternal Grandfathers singing genes eventually replaced my Major League aspirations. Like an old Saturday Night Live skit used to say “Baseball been bery bery good to me” but…hasta la vista baseball. I went from centenfield to center stage!
I just wish my Dad had been alive to see it but he passed before it happened. So I make it "do what it do" (as Ray would say) for the both of us..
Millie Vanilli of Philly?
So Mom remarries and we move out of the projects 25 miles away in a place called West Chester.. famous for West Chester State College. Compared to Philly it was like Mayberry, but it was where my dreams were manifest. It became my musical birthplace!
Even tho I had no real musical experience but was tall, thin, and wore glasses like David Ruffin, I was recruited by some cats in the neighborhood to be in this group that was gonna perform at this dance at The Armory. It was just a one time thing. We were just gonna lip-sync to a tune called Storm Warming, by a local Philly group called The Volcanoes (who became the Trammps “Disco Inferno”). No one in this makeshift group seemed to know what to do, so I found myself taking the reins. I picked the name, wardrobe and did the choreography and once we hit that stage, I KNEW that THAT was where I belonged. For some of those guys, it was just a onetime fun thing but soon those of us who were serious started a group called "The Superbs". A woman in the neighborhood named Julia Bartley took us off the streets and into her living room and allowed us to rehearse and sharpen our skills. Once we found a band, we scaled down from 5 to 3 singers and literally became overnight local sensations when I convinced the promoter of a show, that featured the number 1 local band, that we would play for free if we could follow them. That way he’d get 2 bands for the price of one and if people didn’t like us, they would have already heard the other band and they would just leave. Well no one left and we executed a SUPERB performance. From that night on, we were “Thee” group…we were the “local” Temptations! After awhile, the Superbs became complacent, I started singing solo with a Philly Band called Natural Experience. One of my bandmates was keyboardist Gayle Jhonson (that’s how she spells it) who plays with jazz great Norman Brown. She is excellent!
The 4th Del Fonic
One night I was doin a gig at W.C. State and some guys approached me afterwards and invited me to come hang with them. They turned out to be the band for one of my favorite groups, The Delfonics. Next thing I know, Im at their rehearsal but the singers are not there so the band just starts goin thru the set without them. I was standin off to the side kind of singing to myself and they encouraged me to pick up the mike and step up front so… That night I became the unofficial 4th Delfonic. It was our little inside joke but it seriously validated the feeling I had that I could sing on that professional level. The band was impressed to the extent that wanted me to sing lead when they did their solo venture.
Rhythms and Rhymes:
I grew tired of singing everyone elses songs so I bought this old organ and even tho I didn’t read or write music, I started to experiment and came up with some original songs. I approached the band about doing them and they agreed, but it never came to fruition. Since Frankie Beverly left the scene,, we were doing well as one of the top bands in Philly so they seemed satisfied with that...but I wasn't. I tried to get some other local musicians to do originals but it just didn’t seem like it was meant to be and in my mind I kept hearing ,go west young man…go west”. So I made the most difficult decision of my life and headed to the big leagues. But it would not be with the Dodgers.
Not Quite West Yet
Before I arrived in L.A., I made a stop in Akron Ohio and not only performed with Funkadelic but thanks to a Disc Jockey position I stumbled into at WAUP 88.1 fm, my friend John and I also co-promoted the concert . Altho I managed to host a number one show, I still hungered to “make” and not just “play” music, so I kept heading west till I reached the Pacific. The DelFonics band came west later and we reconnected, but unfortunately we never got to complete our musical mission.
I attended Los Angeles City College (LACC) but spent more time hanging out and writing songs than attending classes. The most influential instructor I had was Dini Clark, who helped me gain a better understand of the craft of singing. With some students I met, I finally put a group together called “Taste Of Paradise” who some say was ahead of its time because it was contemporary gospel before the term existed. The inspirational messages on top of "secular" music was something unheard of and it ruffled a few religious feathers…to say the least. I got tired of the resistance and criticism and decided to return to my RnB roots. As fate would have it, after the final concert performance, I was approached by Motown producer Frank Wilson (“The Supremes, Temptations, Eddie Kendricks). He was working on an album for an RnB group called New Birth and was very excited about a funky song we did called “Squeezin Too Much Livin” and wanted to record it for them. It was my first major session. We recorded at the famous Crystal Sound Studio where some fella happened to be recording an album titled “Songs in The Key Of Life”. I had the honor of meeting and hanging with Mr Wonder and attend one of his sessions which also included one Michael Joe Jackson, who gave me some very encouraging and timely comments after hearing me sing one of my songs.
A friend from LACC, invited me to his recording session but before it was over, he ended up walkin out after he and the executive producer got into this heated exchange. Since the studio time was already paid, the man in charge asked me if I could finish what my friend had started. I had never done any "producing" before but I gave it a shot and it eventually lead to a production deal as artist and writer. Also signed to the company was legendary songwriter, Diane Warren (Google) who’s in the "who’s who" of songwriters. She was also responsible for referring a guitar player named Kevin Moore to my band. He later transformed to Contemporary Blues king Keb Mo, who I collaborated with and received Grammy honors for a song we wrote called “Closer” from his Grammy Award Winning album “Keep It Simple” ....but that didn’t happen until 2004.
Back to the 80’s:
my production deal gave me a solid foundation to build upon. It paid just enough to keep the wolves from the door and enabled me to work on my vocal & writing skills & get familiar with studio sessions. One of the songs I recorded somehow reached the ears of an executive with Curtom Records, the legendary Curtis Mayfields label. He literally lifted a tape out of the trash that had been discarded by his friend who was cleaning out his closet. He liked what he heard and called me. When he told me the story, I thought it was a prank so I hung up twice. It took a 3rd call to convince me it was legit. Subsequently I was flown to Chicago, signed with the label and awaited the release of my single “Youre The Best” . But before that happened… Curtom was dropped by parent company RSO records (Bee Gees) and my dream of success and relocating my family here was dropped right along with them ...along with my spirit.. Everyone at the company was excited about the record but the song was never released commercially, although the limited copies that were pressed up and distributed to select DJ’s, somehow caught on and became in high demand amongst collectors (especially overseas} due to the fact that the originals are very rare. An original one sided record of the "You're The Best" single commands a high dollar value.
Diggin out of the dirt:
I gradually crawled out from under the disappointment and formed LoveLyte Musique Production and Publishing company and began the 3rd phase of my transition from singer, to songwriter to producer. I started collaborating with artist and writers like Frank Wilsons partner Leonard Caston,(The Supremes, Eddie Kendricks). Solar Records expressed an interest in signing me so I got to collaborate and record with Kevin Spencer and Taka who worked with Leon Sylvers on The Whispers and other acts. I've also collaborated with former Marvin Gaye & Stevie Wonder keyboardist Michael Stanton,. Philippine top writer Jimmy Borjas on Star Search winner Mark Mejias album & Contemporary Blues king Keb Mo. I have credits on TV/film projects with Weird Americas Chuck Cirino, Bob Leatherborrow and The Grammy honored Lori Barth of Leatherbarrow Music and also worked with Greg Williams from the group Switch. Leon Haywood (Bad Mama Jama), Norman Connors (from the same projects) & various other independent ventures. We’ve done vocal tracks and songs for New Horizon films such as “Transylvania Twist” and The “Haunting Fear” along with radio ads and theme songs for shows and commercials. We also signed some up-and-coming acts where I developed a passion for artist development. Helping to mold an aspiring artist is as fulfilling as molding a composition. I have written and or produced for Keb Mo, New Birth, Phylicea Harris, Kia Hamm, Ebony Johnson, Adam Hawley, The Pegasus Project, Charlotte Pope, Taste Of Paradise, Bryan Austin, country artist Zeke Caldwell, Carla Ballinger, J.M. Hughes, just to name a few.,
After a near fatal automobile accident, I kept a promise to myself that if I survived, I would finally do an album. The result was “CoZmic Soul”, followed by “PhilaFornia Soul” The "The Ultimate" (#4 on UK indie chart) , wrote and produced “Boomerang” for “Phil-LA of Soul” and my 2018 release “Bunnys Boy”
After multiple police shootings of so many young Black American men, I wrote a song called “What A Shame” and along with Lone Star Entertainment and Concerned Artist Of L.A ( C.A.L.A.), we released a video in 2016.
singers: Ray Charles, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Marvin Gaye, James Ingram, Isaac Hayes, Michael McDonald, David Clayton-Thomas SongWriters: Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis, Gamble and Huff, Thom Bell/Linda Creed, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Carole King. Burt Bacharach/Hal David, Babyface. Producers: Quincy Jones, Thom Bell, Curtis Mayfield, Maurice White, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Most influential Artist: Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, DelFonics, Isaac Hayes, Bill Withers, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Anita Baker, James Taylor, Earth Wind & Fire, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin,
Thru the years I’ve had the honor of performing with too many artist to list but some of the more notable would be Sly Stone, Sister Sledge, Chambers Brothers, Frankie Beverly, Keb Mo, the legendary Leon Ware (Marvin Gaye), and I’ve been blessed to have had some of the very best musicians on my songs like keyboard extraordinaire and Quincy Jones right hand man, Greg Phillinganes, Stevie Wonder percussionist Munyungo Jackson, the exceptional Adam Hawley on guitar, Keb Mo, and too many talented yet unknown names to mention.
"I am most grateful for the gifts I've been gifted. My mission is to use them to entertain and enlighten.
I thank you for your support"... LaRombé ♪ aka Bunnys Boy ="L7"