“Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.” -Kenny Jeremiah
As charismatic frontman for The Soul Survivors, Kenny Jeremiah was a beloved entertainer in Philadelphia’s R&B music scene for nearly 50 years. But with hits like 1967’s “Expressway to Your Heart,” the fame of Philly’s esteemed son spread far beyond the City of Brotherly Love. Affectionately known as Philly’s blue-eyed soul man, Kenny entertained millions of people worldwide, sold millions of records, and gained the enduring respect of music industry colleagues.
When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes!
Entering what would become an illustrious music career, Kenny founded the New York-based band The Dedications in the early 1960s, and released several singles between 1962 and 1964. In 1965, he and brothers Richie and Charlie Ingui, formed the unique sound of The Soul Survivors. The band signed a recording contract with Philadelphia’s Crimson Records, and quickly connected with the popular songwriting duo of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.
In 1967, Kenny Jeremiah and The Soul Survivors released their first album, When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes, and rode to the top of Billboard charts with the million-selling single, “Expressway to Your Heart.” The song reached #1 in the Philadelphia area, and peaked at #4 nationally on Billboard’s Hot 100. In fact, “Expressway to Your Heart” was the first gold record for Kenny Jeremiah, and the first national hit for the songwriting and production team of Gamble & Huff. The song’s unique, reverberating style ultimately spawned a musical paradigm which infamously became known as The Sound Of Philadelphia (TSOP).
Kenny and The Soul Survivors also catalogued success with “Explosion In Your Soul,” another single from their debut album. It reached #3 on 1967’s R&B charts, and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 the same year. In 1981, iconic duo The Blues Brothers covered the song, and in 1988, new Wave band The Breakfast Club released their version of the Soul Survivors’ hit. “Expressway To Your Heart” and “Explosion In Your Soul” sold millions of copies, and continues to be featured in heavy rotation on R&B stations around the world today.
Kenny and The Soul Survivors grabbed the spotlight again in 1969 with “Impossible Mission (Mission Impossible),” their third hit single from When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes. Although it didn’t land as high on Billboard charts as their earlier hits, the song helped secure The Soul Survivors as one of Philly’s most successful and legendary R&B bands.
In 2009, Rock and Roll hall-of-famer Bruce Springsteen added “Expressway To Your Heart” to his Working on a Dream tour, and in 2011, Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall released a YouTube video of the classic R&B hit. Enjoying countless covers and samples of the song, The Soul Survivors hit “Expressway To Your Heart” was voted by readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Post as the greatest record to ever come out of Philly.
Let The Good Times Roll with Kenny
During his tenure with The Soul Survivors, Kenny Jeremiah toured and collaborated with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Eric Clapton, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and Jackie Wilson, to name just a few. While many R&B fans know Kenny best through his work with The Soul Survivors, he also achieved disco success with the 70s group, Shirley & Company. The group’s lead singer, Shirley Goodman, had achieved monumental success 20 years earlier with her hit single, “Let The Good Times Roll.” Shirley & Company’s 1975 hit “Shame Shame Shame” reached #1 on European Disco and Dance charts, and #12 on US pop charts. While touring with Shirley & Company, Kenny played to sold-out shows and collaborated on more million selling records.
Kenny Jeremiah – an Enduring Music Legend
Kenny Jeremiah eventually moved on as a solo artist and spent much of the 80s and 90s performing in the clubs and casinos of the wildly popular Jersey Shore circuit. Fans relished in his renditions of The Soul Survivors R&B hits, the disco classics of Shirley & Company, and his charismatic covers of classic Philly-based anthems which comprised The Sound of Philadelphia.
Kenny delighted music lovers on a global level for over five decades. He amassed fans and followers throughout the United States, Europe, the U.K., and beyond. The legend and his magnetic voice live on and continue to draw fans through radio play. For years, Kenny Jeremiah, and DJ Pepper Paul hosted their infamous “Rock & Soul Radio Show” every Tuesday evening on Vineland New Jersey’s 92.1fm WVLT. The show was also distributed to a global audience via wvlt.com.
Yet those easy-listening vocal stylings of Kenny Jeremiah extended far beyond radio air waves. His charismatic showmanship and stage presence filled the seats of top live entertainment venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic seaboard for decades. As part of the duo, The Jeremiah Hunter Band, he and Bobby Hunter, along with Kit Whorton, Greg Pordon, Matt Curran, and Jeff Seycot logged rousing performances at several iconic venues including the 4th of July @Somers Point Beach Concert, and at Harrah’s and Trump Plaza Hotels in Atlantic City.
Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose
Kenny and his long time friend and colleague, DJ Pepper Paul, also entertained innumerable guests and fans every week at Rack’s in Williamstown, NJ. Always one to pack a tight schedule, Kenny also performed Friday evenings at Joey M’s LaPiazza in Wildwood, NJ.
This Legend Has Touched the Face of God
An incredible philanthropist and enduring music legend, Kenneth Scott Jeremiah lost a valiant battle to Covid19 on December 4, 2020. Upon his passing, Kenny’s brother Al Jeremiah said, “You were one in a million to all of us.” Kenny is survived by Patricia DelSordo, his partner of nearly 30 years, his brother Al and wife Gail, and his nephew, Albert. Kenny also left a powerful legion of fans and followers who will cherish his legendary music and performances, his empowering personality, and his commitment to philanthropy for years to come. Kenny’s illustrious career lives on. Renowned for his boundless energy and an innate ability to draw the adulation of enthusiastic fans, he seamlessly blended superb vocals with the high-octane energy of rock concerts. Kenny Jeremiah’s illustrious recording career and his live performances will remain legendary.
Kenny’s most recent release, “Let It Be Me” and “You Sang to Me” are available for purchase. Visit iTunes to purchase these, as well as other Kenny Jeremiah recordings, including Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose,” his soulful tribute to Teddy Pendergrass and TSOP, and Enrique Iglesias’s dance ballad, “Hero,” which is experiencing heavy play in dance clubs.
If you’re still #hookedon Kenny Jeremiah like we are, please join us on his Facebook Page and channel his effervescent spirit by viewing his iconic performances on the Hooked on Everything YouTube Channel.
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